Missouri's Placeworks program highlights heritage through art

An Ozarks Teacher Corps alum partnered with Springfield​ Art Museum's Placeworks Program to bring the language of art to her students.

November 21, 2017 |

Ozarks Teacher Corps alum and West Plains Foreign Language teacher Lara Strong partnered with the Springfield Art Museum's Placeworks Program to bring the universal language of art to her students. <\/p>"

We love hearing from teachers who are on the ground in rural communities. We wanted to take a moment to share this letter from Lara Strong, a former Ozarks Teacher Corps member, and foreign languages teacher in West Plains, Missouri.

The Placeworks Program (based out of the Springfield Art Museum) brings local artists to rural schools throughout the Ozarks to provide place-based, multi-disciplinary arts enrichment to students. Placeworks artists work with teachers within the schools to create projects tailored to student learning needs and community engagement. The program is funded through The Louis L. and Julia Dorothy Coover Charitable Foundation Place-Based Grantmaking Program of Commerce Trust.

We hope you enjoy this letter from Ms. Lara Strong to Dr. Julie Leeth, who coordinates the Missouri Ozarks Hub!

Hello Dr Leeth,

As a former recipient of OTC scholarship and this year’s grant recipient of Placeworks, I want to share my this year’s teaching experiences with you and Ozarks Community Foundation.

This semester Mrs. Beard’s classes and my classes have been working on the Country Project to work with Rosetta Stone programs. The Country Project is focused on letting students demonstrate an understanding of the practices and perspectives of the cultures studied. Such as common cultural activities and holidays; Identify objects and symbols commonly used to represent the culture studied; identify important historical and contemporary figures and events of the culture studied, etc. By working on the Country Project, we hope our students can have a better understanding on the cultures in the language they are learning, and also remembering USA is an immigration country and our ancestries are from all over the world.

Thanks to Springfield Art Museum Placeworks program, our students, no matter if they are learning Chinese, German, French, or Spanish, are able to use the language of art to express what they had learned through this Country Project through the Mural. The words in the statue’s face mainly are the city names from Missouri, but originally from either native American tribes or other countries such German, France, or Spanish speaking countries. The statue of Liberty represents the United States itself: millions of immigrants and embodying hope and opportunity for those seeking a better life in America. At this point, the mural is done and we are planning to hang it up in the hallway on Dec. 1, 2017.

Special thanks to the founder of Placeworks, artist, and Springfield Art Museum educator---Kate Baird who approved the grant for our mural; Creative artists Lillian who created the mural to tie with our curriculum; Rick and Shauna who worked with Lillian and our 163 students on this project.

Lara Strong
Foreign Languages
West Plains, Missouri

Pictured Below: The finished product!

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