Last Monday, our latest group of 16 docents graduated, attending a small ceremony with director Stephan Jost, director of tour and docent programs Betsy Robb, tour scheduler Jan Tucker, sparkling wine and cake.

The docents, who were trained to conduct guided school tours, met for 16 weeks between February and September. They focused on 12 of the 21 school tours available. The tours covered were: Animals in Art, Art and Life in Early America, Asian Masterpieces, European and American Masterpieces, Elements of Art, The World through Art, Literature through Art, Math through Art, Let’s Sketch, Music through Art, O’Keeffe and Adams: The Hawaii Pictures, and World Religions through Art.

“I wanted to get involved locally and have always liked art,” says new docent Randy Kinst. “Betsy and Jan have made the process so enjoyable. They really made the museum come alive.” Kinst looked forward to his first tour, Animals in Art—scheduled for last Tuesday—for a group of fifth- and sixth-grade special education students.

All of the docents were required to complete extensive reading assignments, follow ongoing school tours, present mini-practice tours to fellow trainees, participate in the evaluation process, prepare written sample tours, and eventually lead school groups on their own. They also agree to a minimum five-year service commitment, giving a weekly tour during the school year.

Debbie Lee, who had been a docent at the Portland Art Museum, moved to O‘ahu a little over a year ago and wanted to continue doing volunteer work.

“This eight-month training is excellent; we were given really good guidelines for the school tours,” says Lee. “I am constantly learning about the artwork, it’s a continuing education.”

In addition to leading school tours, Lee will give Chinese-language tours. She’s already led five tours in Mandarin, including a VIP tour that ran an hour and a half with a special focus on our European and American art galleries.

Three of the graduates were actually already docents (they took a two-year training program) who wanted to become more familiar with the new school tours. The museum’s school tours include activities that connect students to the art and meet specific Department of Education core benchmarks.

With more than 17,000 students on tours every school year and plans to double the number of Title 1 students over the next few years, these new graduates are invaluable to the museum’s education program.

Congratulations to: Sue Brown, Sara Buehler, Bob DiMauro, Mary Anne Fackelman-Miner, Lena Galbraith, Lynn Hiyakumoto, Randy Kinst, Debbie Lee, Tensie Lee, Karen Ley, Sherree McKellar, Maeona Mendelson, Howena Reinker, Patty Robb, Jody Schucart, and Elza Terseglav.

Mahalo nui to these new and veteran docents—the museum wouldn’t be the special place it is without their passion and commitment.