The Migrant Education Program (MEP) Summer School at Bertha Holt Elementary is one of the many sites where our Teaching Artists have engaged the hearts and minds of children this summer. A team of five Creative Link artists including Mitra Gruwell, Noah McLain Philpot, James Peck, Sarah Peters Gonzales, and Victoria Wills have been working with kindergarten through middle school students. Students have explored a variety of arts including theatre, puppetry, intaglio printing, painting, upcycled art, and more. Each artistic language offers a unique way for children to develop and express their ideas, feel seen and heard, and work in innovative and collaborative ways.

Map Making and Storytelling

At the start of summer school kindergarten and first grade students were invited to create a mixed-media map of where they live. The open-ended nature of this project, led by Victoria Wills, gave space for each child to explore and externalize their experience of home and community. A first grader, who was talking with friends while working on her map, was overheard saying: “I’m homeless right now, but I’m living with my cousin. This is the bed we share and these are the clothes she shares with me.” The map she created was full of color and life. There is a playground right outside the house, where she and her cousin like to play, an apple tree full of ripe fruit, and a big heart at the head of the bed she shares with her cousin. In creating this art map, she shared a story about the richness that fills her life, not the deficits others may project onto her if they only heard her words.  Putting materials in children’s hands makes them the authors of their own story, thus allowing others to set aside judgement and truly listen to and honor their perspective.