At the Art School, after Tiger Tuesdays comes Queen Ka‘ahumanu Elementary Wednesdays. Launched in 2013, the program offers art classes to Queen Ka‘ahumanu Elementary students at the end of the school day, which on Wednesday is at 1:25 p.m, while many parents are still working.
Providing a safe, supervised space for students to be while many parents are at work fills an obvious gap, but the program does much more than that. “We are the only art the kids get, and it’s totally free,” says outreach program manager Sam Guerrero. “There is no cost to either the students or the parents.”
The weekly session begins at 1:20pm, when a team of museum outreach staff, class instructors, and security officers walks to the school to gather the students together and escort them to the Art School. Remembering my days in elementary school, I had imagined the experience would be like trying to herd cats, but these kids were eager to get to the school and do art.
Upon arrival at the school, the roughly 80 kids split up and fill classrooms throughout the building. In one classroom, students learn to draw self-portraits that are half their own face and half animal faces, While at the other end of the building, kids start experimenting with paint, mixing different colors to see what new colors are created. The classes rotate so the students learn new subjects each week.
As much as the program benefits the students, it also has a positive impact on the Art School instructors. Jessica Fowler (pictured in the image at the top), who previously taught art camps in Michigan, moved to Hawai‘i about three years ago, and started working for the Art School a few months later. “When you’re teaching, you are always aware of the effect you have on kids,” says Fowler. “What I didn’t expect was the effect they’d have on me. As someone relatively new to the islands, forming a bond with these kids and their families had a tremendous impact on me. I didn’t feel like Hawai‘i was my home until I started working with these kids.”
This program is made possible by the Stupski Family Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation.