Community Art Integration Projects

Harder Elementary School (Hayward Unified School District) After School Art Program – How does one introduce art in a school that cannot afford an art teacher and art program, for under-served children who have never created art?  As education philosopher John Dewey opined: “We learn to do by doing.”  Paintbrush has followed Dewey’s advice.

  • First, we found a teacher who is also an artist and supported her in developing an after school art program, with enrollment limited to 25 students.  Result: The day after the program was announced far more than 25 parents had signed slips in the hope of enrolling their children.
  • Quarter-by-quarter the program evolved as the teacher learned new ways to stimulate artistic thinking and skills in her students.
  • Prior students often visited the artist to show her artwork they had done on their own, and asked to serve as assistant in subsequent classes if they couldn’t re-enroll due to the need to serve others.
  • Students got to exhibit their work at a local gallery.
  • An advanced class has now been instituted for returning students.
  • All students receive color copies of artwork from children in other countries, and background information about those children’s culture.  They take the art to their regular class and some discuss the culture of the child artist – providing a social studies lesson for their classmates and stimulating further interest in the role of children’s art as an important mode of education and development.


pbd-husd_student This is one of the proud student artists who is now the teacher’s assistant.  The artwork is an example of first efforts at printmaking.

This is one of the proud student artists who is now the teacher’s assistant. The artwork is an example of first efforts at printmaking.


Integrating Art into 35 Classrooms in Grades Five and Six – Maybe having an art teacher isn’t the only way to introduce art into classrooms.   Can teachers who would not claim to be artists learn to integrate art into their regular curriculum?  We learned that the answer is “Yes!”

Paintbrush supported 4 artists in providing some basic art skills to 35 teachers of grades 5 and 6, and art equipment they’d need for use in their classrooms.  This involved a series of 5 Saturday workshops. The skills were simple ones that involved minimal mess and equipment: drawing, watercolor painting, photography, and book making (collage).  The idea was to integrate art into language arts – writing newspaper articles, stories, or explanatory descriptions.  When the Saturday workshops were announced, many more than 35 teachers wanted to sign up.  The workshops would culminate in integrative curriculum.  Surprise – even after the first workshop the teachers were finding ways to integrate art into their curriculum, and not just language arts.  Surprise #2 – teachers reported that on “art day” attendance skyrocketed.  Everybody – teachers, students, school administrators, parents and Paintbrush board members – are delighted!  Teachers receive stashes of Paintbrush art appropriate to the age of their students, and the URLs to Paintbrush’s Online Museum, for their students to use.

SBETA (Students Become Entrepreneurs Through Art) – Art there any direct ways that art can be used to help students do things like: learn financial skills?  Save for college?  Develop business savvy?  Would students and their parents be interested in such an endeavor?  We learned that the answer is a resounding YES!

Paintbrush Diplomacy has worked with the Cal-State East Bay College of Business and Economics (CSUEB, CBE) to establish the Center for Financial Literacy, and then to develop SBETA, in which high school students in art are motivated through art to learn financial literacy and to learn how to develop a business plan and start a small business.  This project, which has just begun, has aroused great interest among students, parents and the faculty and administration of Mt. Eden High School and the Hayward Unified School District.  It has even won the endorsement of City Hall.  The students’ parents (many of whom have never had a bank account) will also receive the financial literacy program, and co-sign on a Teen Banking account for their child.  Some students in CSUEB, CBE’s course “Managing Personal Finance” will do service learning as they work with faculty who teach financial literacy and entrepreneurship to the Juniors and Seniors at Mt. Eden High School.  The service learners will help individual students and parents with such tasks as budgeting, understanding the cost of credit cards, fixing one’s credit score, compound interest, and other skills that may require mentoring.  The students are art students who are preparing for exhibits of their work.  A variety of projects will form the basis of their business plans and ultimate small business projects.  These projects range from framing and selling prints of the students’ art and art from the Paintbrush collection, to making and selling 3-D printed art objects, doing street art that is of high artistic quality and selling prints, and learning how to market student art exhibitions.  Ultimately, the students will brainstorm to identify other kinds of small businesses they can create, not necessarily about art.