Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Maclay School's Faculty Excellence Grant - Maclay Visual Arts - Choose eMpathy (eM)

 Well, our team applied for our school's Faculty Excellence Grant and were awarded it for the 2nd year! Read on below to see how we did it! If you are interested in finding out more comment in blog or message us on our social media!

In the area of innovation, the committee values proposals that establish new programs which will open up new avenues of learning and experience to our students:

*Upon reading the categories for this Faculty Excellence Grant, we feel that we don’t just fit into one category with this lesson. (You know we are always thinking outside the box or even as if there wasn’t a box at all…we like to blur the lines and integrate in as many aspects as we can.) As you read further you will see just why that is and we hope you like it.  We feel we incorporate differentiation and innovation.

·       In the area of differentiation, the committee values proposals that seek to ensure a rigorous curriculum that is responsive to the individual learner.
·       In the area of innovation, the committee values proposals that establish new programs which will open up new avenues of learning and experience to our students

What is our deal? We want to take the Faculty Excellence Grant we were awarded in 2017 /18 and Reflect, Share and Grow as we make our Visual Arts Team unstoppable in integrating eMpathy in all of our teachings on and off our campus.

When you hear the word “creativity,” what do you think of next?  If you are like many people, your mind immediately leaps to artistic endeavors like sculpture, drawing, music, or dance. You may equate “creative” with “artistic.” You may believe that architects and designers are paid to be creative thinkers, but CEOs, lawyers, and doctors are not. Or you may feel that being creative is a fixed trait, like having brown eyes – either you’re born with creative genes, or you’re not.  What we as the Fine Art Department want is to encourage our kids to have “creative confidence”.  Its foundation is the belief that we are all creative which simply stems from one core element – empathy.

Innovation and creativity are now widely accepted as the driving forces behind business success, and are among the most highly prized qualities in today’s leaders. We forget that as kids, we were all creative, making things out of clay and using crayons with abandon. Over time, so many of us were discouraged in our creative endeavors and eventually focused our energies on more traditional pursuits. We all have ideas and insights to offer. Creativity is a mindset, a way of thinking, and a proactive approach to finding new solutions. We may not all be artists, but we can be more creative lawyers, doctors, managers, or salespeople.

Being human centered is at the core of our innovation process. Deep empathy for people makes our observations powerful sources of inspiration. An empathic approach fuels our process by ensuring we never forget we’re designing for real people. And as a result, we uncover insights and opportunities for truly creative solutions.         
2017 – To present our Visual Arts Team has become an instigator for positive change within our school community on and off of our campus. This small act of kindness might evolve into something much bigger. This may lead to larger initiatives down the road and instigating a change within our school, our area and our community. We want to promote opportunities for demonstrating Empathy. This project has kept our team motivated and thinking about the future something larger than ourselves. As of now, we are turning in a Professional Development Book Study for next year for Visual Arts called Creative Confidence, by David and Tom Kelley. Out of the book study we want to use it to spiral into our already established Creative Code Mindset of Reflect, Share and Grow.

How about a Community Crafts Project? Yes, we mean our community off and on our campus… We are researching doing more in the community with the eM pieces. Next year for The Celebration of the Arts we are going to start the #850createswithmaclay We will model this after #352Creates in Gainesville, FL.
Let’s Talk PR for the school in this article below…
Boy, so we have a story for you. A picture is worth a 1000 words. What do these say to you?   What you are about to read is the actual chain of events that have taken place right outside the McKenzie Center by just giving an eM bracelet…(In the words of Kaitlyn Dressel)

Mia has been attending Maclay since she was in the Pre-K. She is now in her sophomore year however, it has been a long journey for Mia adjusting from her accident that happened when she was only four years old. Mia has been growing up and attending Maclay all these years with her peers, but as time progressed it became harder and harder for Mia to keep the social interaction with her friends. 

I had never been introduced to Mia, but when I saw her sitting outside of my art room, I knew she was the perfect fit and complete testimony to what us as a faculty were trying to instill in our students an act of empathy. There was a small stack of empathy bracelets that a group of kids had just finished. I quickly wrote a note on the back side of the eM card and walked outside to meet Mia for the first time.

It quickly made me so aware that sometimes it’s not the kids who do not have empathy, they simple don’t know where to start or how to express it. The look of pure joy when I gave Mia her eM bracelet was a moment I will never forget.  From that simple moment of handing that bracelet to let her know that someone notices her and cares for Mia lead to an overwhelming amount of new opportunities I could have never expected. 

I quickly learned that Mia had a passion for art and design. She showed me a few of her fashion sketches she carried with her and from there I knew she had to be in my art class. Mia is now a full time member of our art class and is discovering new skills and talents every day. Currently, Mia just finished designing a swim suit that TYR will be printing and producing for their company. It gets better – for every suit that is purchased on their site, a portion of that sale goes back to the Mac Foundation which is a local foundation whose mission is to prevent child drowning. My best friend Mac Crutchfield passed away 10 years ago and we started this foundation to bring awareness to this cause. In this process Mia also told me that her logo for all of her designs is “MiaMck Designs” but all I heard was Mac – again, I knew it was meant to be. Mia is now an ambassador of the Mac Foundation and will be attending the live event this year where her suit will be modeled on several Olympians and then auctioned off.

Mia has proven to so many kids that you can do art. You can be creative. There are no limits, just look at what she’s doing! She’s a true miracle in the art room. Other students’ confidence have completely skyrocketed. They are no longer scared to fail especially when Mia has no fear at all. So many students have truly loved the opportunity to work with Mia now in and out of class and all they needed was a foundation to get to interact with Mia. All from one small gesture of kindness. Yeah, you see…we like to throw kindness around like confetti in our field of work which is creating and thinking outside the box. Now, look below…I told you a picture was worth a thousand words.  Every day she walks through the door we all feel so blessed!

What we have seen this year - Doubts in one’s creative ability can be cured by guiding people through a series of small successes. And the experience can have a powerful effect on the rest of their lives. We didn’t know as children that we were creative. We just knew that it was okay for us to try experiments that sometimes succeeded and sometimes failed. That we could keep creating, keep tinkering, and trust that something interesting would result if we just stuck with it. Everyone has a “creativity scar,” a specific incident when they were told they weren’t talented artists, musicians, writers, singers. People start to separate the world into those who are creative and those who are not. They come to see these categories as fixed. Too often they opt out of being creative. Rather than be judged, they simply withdrew.

The tendency to label ourselves as “noncreative” comes from more than just our fear of being judged. As schools cut funding for the arts and high-stakes testing becomes more pervasive, creativity itself is devalued, compared to traditional core subjects like math and science. Those subjects emphasize ways of thinking and problem solving that have a clear-cut single right answer, while many real-world twenty-first century challenges require more open minded approaches. Well-meaning teachers and parents play a part counseling young people toward conventional professions, sending the subtle message that occupations involving creativity are too risky and out of the mainstream.
Traditional schooling destroys creativity. “Education is the system that’s supposed to develop our natural abilities and enable us to make our way in the world. Instead, it is stifling the individual talents and abilities of too many students and killing their motivation to learn. Teachers, parents, business leaders, and role models of all kinds have the power either to support or suppress creative confidence in those around them. At the right age, a single cutting remark is sometimes enough to bring our creative pursuits to a standstill. Fortunately, many of us are resilient enough to try again.

          Resilient people, in addition to being resourceful problem solvers, are more likely to seek help, have strong social support, and be better connected with colleagues, family, and friends. We need others to help us bounce back from adversity and hardship.  This is where our eM bracelets have made a difference on our campus. Kids created pieces that we hadn’t even thought about making. They challenged us to make pendants, keychains, ornaments, etc…Our department have received positive feedback from our eM bracelets. Next year we can make eM pendants too. We are looking to expand our art in the community and were recently contacted by Elizabeth Barron about having a “Pop Up Art Booth” at Red Hills. Ponder that for a second. How cool would it be to participate in this adventure? Who would have thought we would have been contacted about this 4 years ago…With making the eM pieces, we find that kids open up to us about all things. This is a wonderful way to be their advocate and help guide them down a more positive path in life.

Creativity and the ability to innovate are like muscles – the more we use them, the stronger they get. Creative confidence gives us the courage to make a difference in the world around us and inspires us to combine breakthrough ideas with action in a way that improves our companies, our careers, and our lives.

When people transcend the fears that block their creativity, all sorts of new possibilities emerge. Instead of being paralyzed by the prospect of failure, they see every experience as an opportunity they can learn from. The need for control keeps some people stuck at the planning stage of a project. With creative confidence they become comfortable with uncertainty. Creative confidence is a way of seeing that potential and your place in the world more clearly, unclouded by anxiety and doubt.

Throughout our lives, forces can push us toward or away from reaching our creative potential:  a teacher’s compliment, a parents’ tolerance for tinkering, or an environment that welcomes new ideas. What matters most in the end, though, is this:  your belief in your capacity to create positive change and the courage to take action. Creativity, far from requiring rare gifts and skills, depends on what you believe you can do with the talents and skills you already have. And you can develop and build on those skills, talents, and beliefs. “Courage is only the accumulation of small steps.”

So why continue with the eM bracelets (round2)?  Art is for everyone and our eM bracelets is a way to empathize and connect us all. It’s simple. Giving students a platform – a foundation and a place to start to rebuild their creative confidence.

We took two of our most basic fundamental principles – empathy and clay to build creative confidence in everyone. To show that if you can make a simple bracelet out of clay there will be a spark that transcends into another idea/innovation that will help our community. Art connects and this is due to our willingness to inspire and help others. Not just through art but through creativity.

Let us just say that the Visual Arts are not hidden here at Maclay anymore. We chose CREATIVITY and we want you to choose creativity with us and help us #gofurther!!! Let us help our community at Maclay be unstoppable and lead the way in this endeavor.

What do CREATIVE people do?

They tend to:
·       Redefine problems in new ways in order to seek out solutions
·       Take sensible risks and accept failure as part of the innovation process
·       Confront the obstacles that arise when challenging the status quo
·       Tolerate ambiguity when they are not certain that they are on the right path
·       Continue to grow intellectually rather than let their skills or knowledge stagnate

Being creative doesn’t have to mean starting from scratch or being the sole originator – it’s about adding what you can, about making a creative contribution. We are all creative which simple stems from one core element – empathy.
The more we have researched eMpathy the more we realize all the books that we tend to gravitate to have a common theme and that is eMpathy, we plan to do more research and delve deeper into this issue of eMpathy with these 4 books next year.

Below is a link to last years grant proposal:

We have all had our ups and downs but if we choose empathy with one another then we can make a difference...just saying =) We are all super excited for next school year! Yes, the planning has begun!

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