John Singer Sargent, El Jaleo, 1882, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

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, and Jackson Pollock. 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.

“This program is terrific – I chaperoned the trip to the MFA. The way that Abby had the students engage with the specific pieces of art – feeling the textures of the materials, hearing the stories, enacting the poses, drafting and sketching their own vases and fans – really allowed all of the students to connect with art. The self-portraits and poems using similes, quite advanced for 3rd-graders, were such a great experience. I would recommend this program to every school in Boston.”