Students get a visual approach to learning

Fourth graders Emma Richards, Sarah Beth Brauss, and Savannah Spencer make pinwheels.

Kay Thomson’s Lower School students do more than draw in her art classes. They learn life skills and how to create projects, and they learn about art history. They also learn new depths about the subjects in their other classes through a cross curriculum that teaches with visual cues.

Thomson, who teaches second through fifth grades, reinforces what students are learning in other classrooms by focusing on relevant art projects, depending on the various cultures they study. Recently, for example, fourth graders created castles to accompany the annual Medieval Feast. “It broadens not only the classroom experience, but the art experience,” she said.

At USJ, Thomson is free to apply a cross curriculum program in addition to meeting state education standards. She said it helps her students learn more about the subjects they study because it’s a different approach to the materials.

“The art lesson is such a different environment than the classroom,” Thomson said. “It’s a visual experience.”

When they’re finished, students showcase their work on one of five bulletin boards that are changed throughout the year. It’s something that makes the students proud.

Other Lower School teachers are supportive of her approach, Thomson said. She also receives encouragement from the administration, as well as from parents. “I really appreciate the parents being supportive,” Thomson said.

Making castles out of clay are fifth graders
Chidera Nwokolo, left, and Gabrielle Berry, right.
It’s her job, she explained, to teach children to solve problems and create a love for work, and her students are eager to meet the challenge.

“USJ has a wonderful, creative, and diverse student body. They’re just really creative and enthusiastic kids who are easy to teach.”