Lisa Winkler is an art teacher in the Collingswood Public School System.

Lisa is being recognized for her award of one of ten NJDOE Title 1 Arts-Integration Grant for $100,000 for 2016-17 and $75,000 for 2017-18 school years.

In Lisa’s own words:

The NJDOE offered the Title 1 Arts-Integration Grant last year in the amount of $100,000 to 10 schools.  We were one of the schools selected for the pilot.  This is the first time that any state is allocating Title 1 funds for arts-integration, so we are very excited to be part of this groundbreaking pilot program.

I believe that our proposal was the only one written solely by an art teacher.  Our proposal was for an after school arts-integration program for 6th grade students.  We ran the program for two hours once a week from Feb-June.  The theme of our program was storytelling with an emphasis on ancient Greece.  We worked with 31 sixth grade students and there were 9 teachers involved (visual art, social studies, science, 2 language arts, technology, 3 special education).  We were looking for increased academic achievement and improved school climate.

The goal/final product of our program was for the students to create a graphic novel based on ancient Greece.  The activities included the following:
  • Students read “The Lost Hero” graphic novel by Rick Riordan.
  • Students broke into small groups to write their own stories, inspired by ancient Greece.  They wrote throughout the program.
  • We used virtual reality viewers to “visit” the Acropolis and other ancient Greek sites.  Students used the time to scout locations for their stories.
  • We went to the Met and toured the Greek galleries.  Students were required to add one of the artworks they saw at the Met in their stories.
  • We excavated Greek urns using dig kits.  We discussed how the layers of the earth tell a story.
  • We had an astronomy night where students assembled their own telescopes.  We observed the stars and discussed how the constellations influenced Greek storytelling.
  • We attended a performance of “Chariot of the Sun” from Young Audiences of NJ.  Seth performed Greek myths and discusses Greek storytelling.
  • We completed a science lab where students experimented with the effects of acid rain on ancient building materials.  We discussed why it is important to preserve ancient sites.
Once the stories were complete, students worked with a visiting artist from Young Audiences to create papier mache masks of the characters from their stories.  We spray painted and embellished the masks when they were done.
We set up a photo studio in the classroom.  Students made costumes and used their masks to act out scenes from their stories.  We photographed various scenes from each story.
Students used iPads and Photoshop apps to edit their pictures to add Greek backgrounds.
We had a closing ceremony where the students shared their work with their families.  We ate lots of Greek food!
So far, we have had improved language arts grades, improved attendance, and students participating more in after school activities. We were able to purchase cameras, studio lighting equipment, virtual reality equipment, and a class set large iPads for the art room.
We’ve been renewed for an additional year at $75,000.  Our program will include the same students, now in 7th grade, and will be an after school program and a summer camp.  The theme this year is balance with an emphasis on China.  Some of the activities that we are planning include: going to Chinatown in Philadelphia for a walking food tour, making dumplings with a local chef, kayaking in the Pine Barrens, papermaking, calligraphy, virtual reality tours, excavation kits, feathered dinos of China and fossil labs in science, visiting the terracotta warriors exhibit at the Franklin Institute, and a 5 week residency with the Philly Circus School.