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Summit takes art out of the classroom, into the student’s home

SALISBURY – After 23 years in the classroom, Michelle Allen decided to make a change.

When Summit Virtual Academy became a reality last summer, she jumped on board to teach art in a new setting. Instead of a classroom filled with supplies and budding artists, she has been beaming directly to students in their homes, spending 30 minutes at a time giving them lessons.

“I definitely entered into it apprehensively,” Allen said.

But this was new and it drew her in. She said learning platforms the school uses was a challenge, but the interaction with the students is familiar.

The delivery is digital, but the art is not. Allen said she likes to stick to hands on projects with real materials because the students are spending all day doing everything else digitally.

There are three art teachers at the school. Allen teaches elementary students and came to Summit from China Grove Elementary. One of her colleagues teaches elementary and middle school and another teaches middle school students only.

The virtual classes mix students from different grade levels as well. One class Allen teaches has students from kindergarten to second grade.

The school has made a point of trying to supply students with what they need at home. Lessons can range from abstract art to paper folding. The students are always given a digital option for projects.

Allen said students can thrive in this environment and commended the faculty at summit for their work.

Ruth Pitman, another Summit art teacher, said she has enjoyed using technology to teach. She has used virtual art demonstrations, virtual field trips and shares the screen on her tablet to show students what she is doing. She has also enjoyed the challenge of being flexible and still sticking to state standards.

Summit student Kinsdan Cook has enjoyed class at summit this year.

“I get to be creative in my own learning space and use my own materials,” Cook said. “The art teachers are very nice in sharing supplies and letting us do supply pick up if we need it.”

Mary Scrip, a parent, said her second-grade son Wyatt has always been interested in art and Allen’s lessons have helped him understand and bring more detail into his art.

“Even though she she was teaching K-2 all in one class, how she set up her lessons seemed to make it as if you were the only one in the class,” Scrip said.

Waterworks is hosting virtual spring gallery shows for elementary, middle and high school levels for local students. The high school exhibit began on April 21.

Allen said the entirety of Rowan-Salisbury Schools will create its first virtual art exhibition this year. The exhibit is a collaboration of every art teacher in the district and will be posted online in May and teachers have been pulling pieces all year.

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