Claude Monet, *Red Boats, Argenteuil **, 1875, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, Bequest from the Collection of Maurice Wertheim

6th Grade Program

Step Into Art is a long-established tradition at Mother Caroline Academy, a tuition-free, private school in Dorchester for girls in grades 4-8 from limited financial means. Our 6th-grade partnership program engages students with portraits from the Harvard Art Museums – paintings by John Singleton Copley, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Emil Nolde, Jackson Pollock, and Kerry James Marshall. This rich, four-month learning experience uses art-viewing as a starting point for intense, long-term projects that engage students in art-making and writing, enabling them to build valuable skills of observation, interpretation, problem-solving, and self-expression. Students create personally-expressive paintings, compose artist statements, and write stories with great works of art as sources of inspiration. The program builds toward a celebratory exhibition at Harvard University’s Center for Government and International Studies. There, students rise to new roles as public speakers as they discuss their own artwork and writing with visitors and share the pride of their creative achievement. By involving Mother Caroline sixth-graders with special resources and experiences at Harvard, this Step Into Art collaborative program helps nurture students’ aspirations for the future.

In the winter and spring of 2020, we will be expanding our 6th-grade program to Nativity Preparatory School in Jamaica Plain, a tuition-free, private middle school serving boys from low-income Boston families. This program will conclude with an exhibition of the students’ creative work at Gutman Library, Harvard Graduate School of Education.

“Teaching Step Into Art programs is so rewarding! I have the joy of watching students gain confidence in discussing works of art as they make thoughtful observations and amazing connections. I see a sense of ownership and connection grow between the children and the art they learn about as it inspires their writing and their art creation in a very personal way. The students never fail to impress and amaze me, and every time I teach a program it’s an entirely new and wonderful experience.”