Last time I introduced you to my former student, Mollie Gruennert.
When my daughter Kaia was born, Mollie gave her a cute cloth doll. Much later, when I told Kaia that the doll was from Mollie, Kaia promptly named the doll after her. So over the years, we’ve had a sweet reminder of Mollie in our household.
When my girls were in middle school, they each had Mollie as a literature teacher and/or drama coach, during the two years that Mollie was back at Heritage–the high school she’d graduated from.
Fast forward over ten years. Currently, Mollie is the principle of Cross Trainers Academy (CTA) since June, 2014. CTA collaborates with local organizations to bring students experiences in the arts.
How do you bring creativity into your daily life and into the school’s environment?
Mollie: At different places in life I find different outlets to just enjoy creating: flower gardens, redoing my grandmother’s house, drafting a poem or children’s book, refurbishing a dollhouse, stoking the fires of imagination with the children in my family through stories and play.
According to their mission statement,
“Arts @ Large activates Milwaukee’s education communities
to build environments that support arts-rich, life-long learning.”
Their vision states that “All K-12 Milwaukee students
have equal access to an education
that includes the arts.”
Mollie: Arts @ Large engages students in experiential learning that inspires knowledge and transforms education. They are a nationally recognized program that promotes partnership with artists in the community from organizations, businesses, and higher education working with student groups at schools and their families to develop a theme from which they design a unique piece of art.
The art we created will be displayed on our school property in our new building. The students worked with a local potter to create an outdoor display of tiles that sends a message of peace to the community. They created a mural that will hang in our new building that tells how the students desire their faith to impact their community and culture.
They also created a peace dove in mosaic.
We had a spoken word artist work with middle school students
to develop a video that shared the students’ personal feelings
about some of the deeper topics our culture is wrestling to resolve.
The common theme in all of our work was
to bring “Shalom” to our community in Milwaukee.
Mad Hot Ballroom is another organization that CTA partners with.
Our 4th and 5th grade students participate in the Mad Hot Ballroom program competing in tap dance paired with ballroom dance steps for 4th grade and partner ballroom dancing in the 5th grade. Danceworks professionals teach our students in a 9-week rigorous course of tap and ballroom in preparation for a citywide competition held at the Bradley Center each year for each category of dance.
The program builds our students’ confidence in public performance as well as teaches them the skill of concentration and self-correction in a pleasant manner.
Additional skills the students learn include how to have social grace within the dance team and with partners, how to apply their knowledge to a wide variety of music (rigorous application of their skill), and how to work together to accomplish a shared goal.
These skills transfer to the classroom when the children need to work on academic projects. Teachers can refer back to their social graces in relating to their peers both inside and outside of classroom.
Any tips for others who want to create?
Enjoy exploring every relationship and life circumstance as part of the material for creativity.
Creativity goes beyond the stylus or paint and explores “being.”
When this is done in Shalom, it becomes,
“Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”
All the materials on earth, and our relationships,
become tools for bringing about the Master design
of our collective potential.
Check these out . . .
CTA & Milwaukee Rescue Mission:
Arts @ Large:
https://www.milwaukeemag.com/Arts_Large/ — a 2010 article in Milwaukee Magazine. It’s an older article but it captures the essence of Arts @ Large.
Mad Hot Ballroom:
Are there projects you did in school, or wish you’d had the opportunity to do, or would like to see implemented currently?
I’d love to hear from you!