Liz Brown is the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program Visual Arts Specialist at Daniels Canyon Elementary and Old Mill Elementary in the Wasatch County School District. During the last week of school, Liz hosted school-wide chalk festivals at both locations. Each class was given a designated area on the school sidewalks to create chalk art. Every student received professional chalk pastels that can be used in unique ways to create pieces of art.
Before the students could begin to draw on the sidewalks, they had to learn about chalk pastel techniques. First, Liz had the students practice blending and shading techniques on paper. Then, they practiced pressing the chalk into the paper to create varying levels of thickness and sharpness. The students were also taught how to properly scale a small piece to a larger size, which created an opportunity to integrate art and math.
Prior to becoming a specialist, Liz was a classroom teacher and participated in the BYU ARTS Partnership’s Arts Leadership Academy. Over ten days of professional development workshops, she learned skills in five art forms and techniques for integrating the arts into other curricular areas. She then participated in Arts Bridge, a program where a BYU student came to her classroom to teach art lessons. Even though the Arts Leadership Academy did not provide the qualifications necessary to become a specialist, Liz has still been able to apply what she learned to her current position. Of the experience, Liz said, “Before Arts Academy I loved to use art, but I looked at art as the fun stuff. Through Arts Academy and through the action research I did with Arts Bridge, I really saw that it wasn’t just fun stuff. I felt like I could justify with research and valid sources why I was doing art, and why it was having a deep impact on my students.”
Liz now advocates to bring school-wide opportunities in the arts to other teachers. These opportunities include programs by the Kimball Arts Center and Arts-Kids, Inc. from Park City, Utah, as well as field trips to BYU. “Arts Academy gave me more confidence to advocate for the arts” she said. “Other teachers wanted their students to have more of the arts as well.” The chalk festival was a perfect way for Liz to end the year with an arts experience for both schools. To learn more about Arts Leadership Academy, visit https://education.byu.edu/arts/arts_leadership_series