Educational Philosophy Working with children to find out what they love and excel at is my passion. I love teaching and collaborating with others to create innovative learning experiences for children. I feel fortunate to have had many great opportunities collaborating with outstanding educators within the public school systems. I have seen that great things can be accomplished by a small group of dedicated professionals and volunteers. Much like adults, children want to make a difference in the world, and I believe if given the tools, children can make a huge impact on their community.
Professional Background I am a certified visual arts teacher grades kindergarten through 12th grade in both Massachusetts and New York. I hold my masters degree in art education having attended the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York for both my undergraduate and graduate visual arts degrees. I received my educational training and certification from Nazareth College in Rochester, New York.
I taught visual arts and arts integration in the East Irondequoit, New York Elementary School District for seven years working at the Durand Eastman Elementary School grades 3-6. During this time, I not only taught the visual arts curriculum, but collaborated with teachers to create an integrated curriculum. Art was used as a tool to get the children involved in hands on learning in math, music, social studies, science, and language arts. We also created teacher mentor programs to deal with bullying and self esteem issues within the school. I also created Project Environment, an environmental organization within the school that did community outreach and raised money to donate to environmental organizations around the world.
Since moving back to Massachusetts, I have been actively involved in the Topsfield community in educational projects for fourteen years. I was president of the Topsfield Educational Foundation for six years where I was active working with the schools and the community bringing private funding through grants to the Tospfield Elementary Schools. I was also vice president of the Masconomet Education Foundation (MEF) granting private funds to the Masconomet Regional High School and Junior High School. Through MEF, we were able to privately fund the construction of the new STEM Lab at the high school. I also was part of developing the individual teacher grant program that fueled innovative projects throughout the school year.
I organized and led FIRST Lego League (FLL) science and technology teams and Junior FLL teams in the Topsfield Elementary Schools for six years. Within this program, teams worked with volunteers from the community to learn robotics, engineering, and science based themes each year. For three of those years, I created and ran the North Shore FLL Robotics tournament where other school teams from around the North Shore came and competed with their robots. I partnered with the the Masconomet High School Robotics team to come do community outreach refereeing at these tournaments.
For six years, I created a private business teaching visual arts classes to preschool and elementary school children in Topsfield, Massachusetts. I focused on teaching art techniques that students were not exposed to in most traditional art education programs. In addition to drawing and painting, students were engaged in sculpture, clay, woodworking, weaving, and other projects based on the arts and crafts movement. I enjoyed teaching privately, but I missed teaching and interacting with a large student body and community.
During this time, I worked on creative projects with many Topsfield, MA community groups that I am active with today. I enjoy doing art outreach with such groups as the Topsfield Green Committee, Holiday on the Green Committee, Main Street Foundation, Girl Scouts, Friends of the Topsfield Town Hall, Topsfield Peace Rally, and the Topsfield Elementary Schools.
In 2011, I took on my biggest project creating the CLIC (Creative Learning Integrated Curriculum) Program at Proctor School in Topsfield, Massachusetts. I am proud to say that the innovative program was a successful collaboration between the community and the school system. With much of the financial support coming from the Topsfield community for the first three years, CLIC integrated the curriculum with hands on learning as well integrated the community into the school. CLIC also integrates the children into the community and the community into the school. Through many collaborative projects, students work side by side with organizations helping at events and learning sessions. Many community members come into the CLIC classroom to share their professions and always do a hands on lesson with the children. It is rewarding to see this important relationship between community activism and student involvement.
CLIC Program is also unique in that it is a before and after school program as well as a creative integration program during the school day. CLIC integrates science, social studies, music, literature, STEM, and art. Teachers come to CLIC with a concept they are teaching and we create a hands on, in depth experience for the children to pursue in the CLIC Classroom. We have seen children come alive and dive into projects that otherwise would be boring to them. Kids love to make things and actively move, create, and organize. We focus on many group activities as well as labs, festivals, and applications for what they are learning in the classroom. CLIC aims to connect real life experiences to learning and unleashes the creativity that every person has in them. There are many types of learners and having CLIC Program in the school is essential in having as many ways to learn a subject. All children are welcome and encouraged to think inventively without judgement. Above all, children come into the CLIC Classroom knowing that they are going to be experiencing something different and exciting. Isn't that how all of us should be approaching learning and life?
To see my work as an artist, community involvement, and early years of CLIC, click on www.jenlarussa.com .