Celebrating our 2018 Mary Lou Anderson Arts Enhancement Grantees

As we open the 2019 Mary Lou Anderson Arts Enhancement Grant cycle, we are reminded of the many arts education projects that this grant opportunity has funded. Most recently, the Mary Lou Anderson Reflections Arts Enhancement Grant honored high quality arts learning programs at Harvest Hill PTA in California and Tiffany Park Elementary PTA in Washington with $1000 in matching grant funds.

Harvest Hill PTA hosted a free Family Art Night in collaboration with community partners to kick off their inaugural Reflections program. The Family Art Night invited all families to come in the evening to learn about the Reflections program, while also introducing families to new artistic mediums. Families had the opportunity to participate in a variety of art stations including; playdough for 3D art, Charcoal, Paint Markers and Watercolor pencils. Gina Jahn, Harvest Hill PTA President, explains:

“The best part was seeing all of the families spend the evening together bonding over art and interacting with each other away from electronics. It was a memorable night that the families appreciated and knowing that the PTA hosted and sponsored the night allowed for the families to get a glimpse into how the PTA can impact the school.”

Harvest Hill’s inaugural Reflections program went on to receive over 22 submissions of which 5 went on to Council judging and 2 moved on to the District-wide level.  Harvest Hill PTA believes that their initial Family Art Night set the foundation for many future years of arts education and participation in the Reflections program.

Tiffany Park Elementary PTA had a similarly successful event funded in part by the Mary Lou Anderson Arts Enhancement Grant. Tiffany Park hosted an Art Appreciation Night with a “Heroes Around Me” theme to kick off the Reflections program and engage the community in the arts. The event included a free dinner, remarks from the school Vice Principal and the District Reflections Chair, and an introduction to the Reflections program and theme. Families also had the opportunity to visit stations ran by volunteer community members that held professions in the each of the Reflections arts categories (visual arts, photography, literature, music, dance, and film) to learn about the art form.

Tiffany Park PTA believes their project has strengthened relationships and connections within their school as well as outside community partners, nearby schools and alumni. As a small, Title 1 school with a $550 budget for arts appreciation and 62% of their population receiving free and reduced lunch, the Tiffany Park PTA was extremely grateful for the grant opportunity and contributions from local organizations and businesses. Stephanie Ferran-Herrara, Tiffany Park’s Art Appreciation Chair, explains:

“It was an occasion for all of our families to come out and learn about different genres of art. Staff and community members were able to have a conversation about the importance of art for our students and we were able to encourage participating in Reflections in a fun and active way.”

In addition to the successful event, Tiffany Park PTA received 26 eligible entries for Reflections and advanced 14 to district level judging. Ferran-Herrara shared, “This project has demonstrated to our Tiffany Park students and teachers that academic AND creative endeavors are valued. We feel it has broadened the definition of what it means to be successful at school.”

Special thanks to Harvest Hill PTA and Tiffany Park Elementary PTA for supporting their students and families through such impactful arts in education programs.  For more information about the Mary Lou Anderson Arts Enhancement Grant, visit PTA.org/ArtsEd.

 

 

 

 

Then & Now: 50 Years of Reflections Award Winners

 

I had the recent pleasure of exhibiting at the National Art Education Association (NAEA) National Convention in beautiful Boston, Mass., to promote the National PTA Reflections program to over 5,700 arts professionals across the country.

At the booth I was greeted by art educators who have led the Reflections program at their school, partnered with PTA on Reflections and those that have served as Reflections judges over the rich 50-year course of the program. I was also able to share the beautiful artwork of Massachusetts PTA Reflections artists which drew future Reflections partners in to learn more about Reflections and how they too can become arts advocates with PTA.

The best part about my time at NAEA was hearing so many stories about how Reflections has been such a huge asset to so many schools across the nation and has impacted so many students over the years. I was even able to meet several past Reflections winners who now serve as Reflections and school leaders, proving that participation in the arts leads to success in life! I’d like to introduce you to some of these amazing individuals.

Meet Mikki Wilson!

Mikki Wilson was a 1991-1992 Reflections state-level winner for her work in Visual Arts that responded to the theme “Exploring New Beginnings”. Like many Reflections winners across the country, Mikki was awarded a medal and written about in her local newspaper.

Mikki went on to submit work the following year and earned a winning medal at the local level as well (photo-Mikki medal 92). What is significant about Mikki’s story is that she now serves as the state Reflections chair and board director for Massachusetts PTA, promoting advocacy for all children, arts education and Reflections participation throughout her state! Mikki was instrumental in collecting and displaying Massachusetts PTA student artwork at NAEA and sharing information about her experiences with Reflections and how to get programs started. Thank you, Mikki!

Meet Nicole Cunningham!

I also had the pleasure of chatting with Nicole Cunningham, who received a Bachelor of Fine Arts and now serves as an account manager at Square 1 Art, LLC in Atlanta, Ga. She was just strolling through the exhibit hall at the NAEA National Convention and saw that the National PTA Reflections Program was exhibiting. Nicole beelined over to our booth just to share her story and positive experience with Reflections. Nicole was supported by Gwinnett County Georgia PTA to become a 1996-1997 state-level Visual Arts Reflections winner for a painting. It was so fun to meet you, Nicole.

And last, but not least, meet Ruth Savage Crittendon!

It was a distinct honor to meet Ruth Savage Crittendon, who was a 1971-1972 national-level Reflections winner from Arkansas PTA. Ruth’s watercolor that interpreted the theme America, The Beautiful, The Ugly was part of the National PTA student arts exhibit that traveled to National PTA’s convention. Ruth went on to receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from Memphis College of Art and has served as a visual arts teacher at Elgin Public Schools in Cyril, Okla., for nearly 15 years. For her passion, dedication and service to the arts, Ruth was an award recipient at the NAEA National Convention as the Western Region Secondary Art Educator. Thank you for sharing your story with us, Ruth, and your love of the arts with the students you work with every day in the classroom!

What an amazing experience to share information about Reflections and learn about the program from the teacher’s perspective. Thank you to Massachusetts PTA, Mikki, Nicole and Ruth for helping me spread the word about National PTA’s Reflections program. To learn more about the program and our annual theme, and to register, visit PTA.org/Reflections.


Amy Weinberg is a programs and partnerships manager for National PTA.

RECAP: 2019 PTA Reflections Showcase

For 50 years, the National PTA Reflections program has inspired millions of students to explore their talents and be involved in the arts by creating works for fun and recognition. Students are recognized each year for their artistic ingenuity to bring the annual theme to life in a way that is personal and meaningful.

On January 22, 2019 National PTA and the U.S. Department of Education recognized over 200 2017-2018 National PTA Reflections student honorees, who created original works of art using the theme “Within Reach.” The event kicked off the Reflections 50th Anniversary celebrations and included remarks from U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. Over 200 individuals and 47 student artists registered for the event, representing 30 states across the nation.

This year, before the ceremony and in celebration of the program’s golden anniversary, student artists and their families were invited to an art-making activity to create fun 50th glasses, crowns and headbands. After creating they were encouraged to take fun photos at our pop-up photo station where balloons and big 5 and 0 signs adorned the area. They could share their photos using #PTAReflections and expand on their Reflections stories in a Pre-Show Facebook Live that friends and family could view from home. Students and their families could also enjoy a 50th-inspired snack bag filled with kid-friendly foods prior to the ceremony.

Then, as the auditorium doors opened, guests were greeted by a sampling of student work shown on the TVs. The hour-long ceremony consisted of guest speakers from National PTA and the U.S. Department of Education as well as four spotlight performances from our student artists. The ceremony concluded with our awardees on stage, listening to closing remarks from Secretary DeVos and participating in a ribbon cutting, officially opening the student art exhibit.

Guests then exited the auditorium to visit over 200 student works of art on display as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Art Exhibit Program, now in its 16th year. Students took pictures with their artwork which will remain in the exhibit hall through the end of the month. This exhibit will travel once more to National PTA’s Convention & Expo in Ohio.

Thank you to our wide Reflections network for supporting the Reflections program and our amazing student artists. Here’s to another 50 years! For more information about the National PTA Reflections program, visit PTA.org/Reflections.

National PTA’s Art Program Turns 50

 

Did you know we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National PTA Reflections Program this year? For the past 50 years, the National PTA Reflections program has encouraged students of all ages to explore and be involved in the arts. Through the program, National PTA and over 4,000 PTAs across the country encourage all students with all abilities to create and submit original works of art in the medium of their choice—dance choreography, film production, literature, music composition, photography or visual arts—that reflect on the annual theme.

As a kick off to our celebration, we’re thrilled to announce we had the pleasure of interviewing three past participants, including our newest additions to the National PTA Reflections staff! Read the interviews below to learn more about the profound impact the Reflections program had on these women and how the arts are still a huge part of their lives!



Ellie Miller
comes from Chesapeake, VA and is now a specialist for our Programs & Partnerships department here at National PTA. She is also a practicing visual artist and spends her free time creating stunning works of art. When we learned she had previously participated in the Reflections program we knew we had to learn more!

Where and when did you participate in the National PTA Reflections program?

I participated in the Reflections program at Hickory Middle School in Chesapeake, VA. In 2008, when I participated, the theme was “I wonder why…”

What category did you participate in?

Photography!

What did the program at your school look like?

The program was announced throughout the school on the morning announcements. The PTA coordinated with interested teachers to plug the program to students who were “artistic” or who showed interest. I submitted my piece and then heard back about placement at a celebration event in the morning. The PTA invited my parents as a surprise and announced my placement at the event in the cafeteria.

What was your experience in (arts category) prior to participating in the Reflections program?

I had a little experience in photography at the time of participating. I used the program to test my interest in photography.

Did you participate in this program independently? Were your parents involved? How involved was your school/community?

This was probably the only activity I participated with the PTA, and in middle school. My parents helped with my art and attended the celebration to support me but were not involved in PTA past that.

How large of an impact did the Reflections program have on your interest with photography and visual arts?

The biggest impact Reflections had on my interest in art was the validation I received for just being an artist. As you get older it’s easier to understand the impact art has on you in terms of relaxation/mental health. But when you are a child and are still figuring out who you want to be as a person it is easy to get become discouraged. A program that leads to the validation and praise from adults encourages students to continue their work in the arts.

I came back to art later in my life and one of the memories that really encouraged me to get back into art was my experience with Reflections. The vivid memories I have of the process for creating my piece and the celebration for placing really impacted my sentiments towards art. The program has a certain amount of innocence in it that is sheltered from the more draining parts of art such as self-consciousness about skills and building the confidence to talk about your art. I can think about on this innocence when I feel discouraged about having few followers on Instagram or worrying what the point is in painting new pieces and holding onto them. This really encourages me and keeps me coming back to painting new pieces and trying to grow my skill.

If you’d like to view more of Ellie’s artwork, follow her Instrgram page, @oneina_millerion



Anabel Martinez-Pauline
participated in the Reflections program as a 6th grader in Orange County, CA. While she participated in the literature and photography categories, Anabel credits this experience with opening her up to all artistic genres and is now a professional musician and educator in Orange County. Earlier this year she made her Carnegie Hall debut as a chorister with two of southern California’s premier music organizations, Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale. She currently teaches choir at Los Amigos High School and was recently awarded October’s Employee of the Month at Garden Grove Unified School District!

What year did you participate in the National PTA Reflections program?

I participated in the 2001-02 program year. The theme was “I hold in my hand…”

What category did you participate in?

I participated in both the Literature and Visual Arts categories.

What did the program at your school look like?

It was a big deal at my school. They advertised it a lot. It was encouraged by our teachers and they incorporated it into class time.

How large of an impact did the Reflections program have on your interest with the arts?

Sixth grade was my favorite year of elementary school. I remember my school took a holistic approach to the curriculum in the sense that everything that we studied or did was connected or related to the arts. When I participated in the Reflections program, it fed creativity that kept up throughout the year. It made me feel like the arts were an integral part of what we did at school. It reinforced both my identity as a creative person and my value as a creative person. I remember being so excited by the Reflections program I ended up submitting four entries! Getting to submit to multiple categories empowered my creativity and the Reflections program helped reinforce the view to me that I was a creative person, which really opened the door to pursue music as I got older.



April Maddox
participated in the Reflections program while growing up in Salt Lake City. She credits the Reflections program as a major inspiration to develop her musical skills and eventually went on to receive a BA in Music and Political Science from the George Washington University in 2000. She then attended The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law and earned a JD in 2003. In her youth, April played with the Utah Youth Symphony. She also served as principal cellist with the Rocky Mountain Camarata (which toured the Western United States each year), the Jordan Youth Symphony, the Utah All-State Orchestra, and the Brighton High School Orchestra.

Currently, April is employed as an attorney for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington, DC. When she’s not practicing law, April is still an active participant in the arts. Not only does she play cello in Cherry Blossom String Quartet (a professional quartet in the DMV area), she is also chair of the Arlington County Reflections program! She, her husband Joel, and their twin sons, Paul and Ben, live in Arlington, VA.

Where and when did you participate in the National PTA Reflections program?

I participated very heavily from 5th-8th grade in Salt Lake City, UT between 1988-1992. In the 8th grade, I made it to the State Level.

What categories did you participate in?

In my first year of participation, I only entered a submission to the music category and ended up winning an award. After the success of my first year, I was motivated to enter submissions to all four existing categories. Our school’s program gave Rainbow Ribbons to students who participated in all four categories, which also helped encourage my participation.

How large of an impact did the Reflections program have on your interest with music?

My participation was a big confidence builder. I was never good at sports and a lot of my pride at school came from being recognized by the Reflections program. I’ve always felt that with the arts you don’t always get much validation at school. Growing up, there were much more opportunities for recognition with sports in school and the Reflections program provided a very unique and special opportunity.

What impact has your participation in the Reflections had on your adult and/or professional life? Do you remain at all in the arts today?

The Reflections program really inspired me to develop my musical skills. I ended up going to college and majoring in music. Now I’m running the Reflections program at my kids’ elementary school and at the district level in Arlington, VA. Today, I still play cello regularly and play professionally with a string quartet called Cherry Blossom strings. Additionally, I still enjoy photography as a hobby. When you’re recognized for your artistic ability as a child, it gives you more confidence to pursue it as an adult.

How does your experience participating in the Reflections program as a child influence your decision to participate as a PTA leader?

I wouldn’t have stepped up to volunteer if I hadn’t done this as a kid. I remembered what a positive experience it was for me and wanted to create that positive experience for other children.

Click here to learn more about April’s string quartet!

Plan Your Own Award-Worthy PTA Reflections Showcase Watch Party

 

Through the National PTA Reflections program, students receive national, state, and local recognition for their artistry and originality in dance choreography, film production, literature, music, photography, and visual arts. This year is even more important than usual as it is our 50th anniversary. Since 1969, when the program was founded, Reflections has helped so many students explore their own thoughts, feelings and ideas, develop artistic literacy, and find a love for learning!

To celebrate, National PTA is going all out by incorporating 50th anniversary celebrations into our upcoming events, including this year’s Reflections Student Arts Showcase at the Department of Education. This year’s Reflections Showcase recognizes our 2017-18 Reflections winners with a ceremony featuring guest speakers and student performances, followed by a digital and physical art exhibit. National PTA is pleased to present a live-casting of this year’s showcase event so that you can celebrate the Reflections program’s 50th anniversary with us!

As you plan your watch party, use these ideas to make your event award-worthy!

Decorate, Decorate, Decorate!

Show-off your PTA’s artistic skills and decorate your watch party with 50th Anniversary and award show decorations. Whether it’s gold 50th balloons, a red carpet, or spotlight photo-op, a highly decorated watch party will encourage participation and fun!

Incorporate Learning into Your Watch Party

Whether your continuing to emphasize the importance of art literacy or if you want to focus on the 50th anniversary, there are a multitude of ways to make your watch party both fun AND informative.

Its Snack Time!

From pizza to cupcakes, a watch party is not complete without some tasty treats. You can use standard snack ideas, but why not dazzle your audience with some award show and 50th anniversary inspired snacks.

Finally – Share, Share, Share!

Share your ideas, photos, and videos using #PTAReflections to let us know how you celebrate the Reflections Showcase by sharing your ideas, photos, and videos using #PTAReflections.

We look forward to celebrating Reflections 50th Anniversary with all of you!

What is #GivingTuesday and How Can I Participate?

 

For many of us, Thanksgiving with our families makes the holiday season official. We gather with loved ones, give thanks for the blessings in our lives, and enjoy a day of togetherness and turkey.

We hardly have time to put away the leftovers before holiday shopping messages become urgent. Don’t miss Black Friday! Save time for Small Business Saturday! Don’t forget about Cyber Monday!

And then there’s #GivingTuesday.

With all of the messages about buying and taking you’ll hear over the next few days, #GivingTuesday (Nov. 27) provides a welcome reminder about the power of giving. #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving that kicks off the charitable season. Using the power of social media and collaboration, millions of people around the world proudly and publicly show their support for their favorite charity by making a gift on #GivingTuesday.

How will you join this global movement on #GivingTuesday?

This #GivingTuesday, National PTA will celebrate how the Reflections art program has impacted kids, schools and communities through the arts. National PTA will showcase Reflections artists past and present and raise awareness for the importance of the arts for children’s well-being.

We need your support!

For 50 years, National PTA’s Reflections program has helped students explore their own thoughts, feelings and ideas, develop artistic literacy, increase confidence and find a love for learning that will help them become more successful in school and in life.

Art education is critical to a child’s development and success:

  • Underserved students show the greatest relative improvements when participating in arts programs like Reflections.
  • Through movement, social interactions, emotional expression and application of skill, arts education provides an academic advantage to students.
  • The arts provide safe learning environments where students take risks, explore ideas, express their individuality and support their peers in a positive way.
  • Studies also find that students are more engaged, and teachers are more effective in arts-rich schools.
  • Research shows that students who study the arts develop a sense of personal responsibility toward their communities and can positively affect the community social life through their artwork.

National PTA’s cornerstone arts program engages nearly 300,000 students from all grade levels each year in categories like dance, film, literature, music, photography and visual arts. This #GivingTuesday, we’re asking you to give your children and grandchildren the gift of 50 more years of Reflections.

On Nov. 27, get active on social media, engage with your favorite organizations including National PTA, and give generously. We invite your support of National PTA’s Reflections program! Help us celebrate and spread the impact of the arts on children and families. You can donate here, and don’t forget to post on social media to encourage your friends to join you in giving!

 

 

Help Is Needed to Decide Art Program’s Theme

Did you know each year we hold a theme search contest for the National PTA Reflections program? For nearly fifty years, hundreds of students across the country have submitted theme ideas, and every year, one theme is chosen to serve as a catalyst for artistic creation for the following program year.

In addition to a $100 prize, winners receive national recognition by determining theme for the 2020-2021 Reflections program year. They also play a major role in inspiring hundreds of thousands of students to create original works of art and helping us celebrate the breadth of history of the last 50th years.

Interested in having a Theme Search Contest with your local Reflections program? Click here to see if your State PTA is hosting a Theme Search Contest.

We can’t wait to see what ideas students generate this year! To provide some extra inspiration, we’d like to share some past themes from the 2000s and the incredible artwork that was created as a result.

2000-2001: It Would be Really Strange If…

Name: Dillon Chilcoat

Division: Middle School Division

Title of Work: “It Would Be Really Strange if I Were Elected President

PTA: Earlywine Elementary PTA

City/State: Oklahoma City, OK

2002-2003: Signs of Courage

Name: James Kraemer

Division/Age: Middle School Division, Age 13

PTA: Five Forks Middle School PTSA

City/State: Lawrenceville, GA

2015-2016: Let Your Imagination Fly

Name: Anellina Jones

Division/Age: Primary Division, age 7

PTA: Wyoming PTA

City/State: Evanston, WY

Title: “Carboard Pilots”

2017-2018: Within Reach

Name: Erewyn Limric

Division/Age: Middle School Division

Title: “Yearning to Breathe Free”

PTA: Kalles Junior High PTSA

City/State: Puyallup, Washington

The 2018-19 theme is Heroes Around Me, selected by Hannah Crawley, a fifth grader from Corpus Christi, Texas! Right now, students are submitting works of art with this theme. It’s not too late to get involved – register now at PTA.org/Reflections!  

Next year, Reflections participants will have the opportunity to create original works inspired by the theme Look Within. This theme was submitted by Enashele Campbell, a Kindergartner from H. Guy Child Elementary PTA in Ogden, UT!

We hope you will take part in this annual contest to determine the theme for the 2020-21 year.

National PTA Art Award Program Enters 50th Year


This year, we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National PTA Reflections program! Reflections was established in 1969 by National PTA Board member and past Colorado PTA President, Mary Lou Anderson. She was a huge advocate of arts education, and truly understood the value arts education brought to the lives of students. We’re thrilled that fifty years later, we’re continuing to further this important work!

What makes Reflections standout, unlike other awards programs, is that students from ALL grades are encouraged to explore ALL areas of the creative arts. This includes dance choreography, film production, literature, music composition, photography, and visual arts. We also offer a special artist division for students requiring special accommodations. Reflections encourages students to use their imagination and creativity to create original works inspired by the annual theme. We welcome all grades, all arts and all abilities.  This year’s theme is Heroes Around Me.

This is especially important because each art form offers unique benefits and skill-building opportunities. Reflections awards and exhibitions also support students by building their confidence and making personal connections to their school and community.

Celebrating the National PTA Reflections 50th Year

To commemorate the start of our 50th anniversary year, here are some ideas, tips and tools for encouraging all students to explore and be involved in the arts. It’s our goal this year to highlight stories of success throughout the program’s fifty years and we have a favor to ask – we want to hear from you! Please share your favorite Reflections stories with us using the hashtag #PTAReflections.

 Reflecting on this year’s theme: Heroes Around Me

It’s important to provide dedicated time and space for students to reflect on the theme. Choose a safe place where students can feel welcomed to express their thoughts, feelings and emotions about the world around them. Each reflection is unique based on individual experiences – where we live, what we do and who inspires us. And that’s what makes creative expression fun! Thinking outside the box and developing a personal voice through art.

Not only does our world influence our interpretations but the theme is also a way to see new perspectives and make new connections.

  • You can start a conversation with a group of students before/after school or lead a discussion with your family around the dinner table.
  • Teachers are also welcomed to use the theme in their classroom to engage students in their lessons or offer extended learning opportunities. Schools can also use the theme to support a grade-wide or school-wide theme.

 Promoting your Reflections Program

We encourage you to promote the theme in visible places across your school and community – Register at PTA.org/Reflections and use our toolkit to promote the theme and your local call for entries. Posters for the school lobby, community library; Video for morning announcements and enewsletters; and use the image bank to have fun creating your own fliers and invitations. Be sure to register at PTA.org/Reflections and visit your state program’s page for all rules, forms and deadlines. These are best shared on bulletin boards and displays in the school lobby, cafeteria, library or any classroom.

 Ideas for Hosting Reflections Events in School and at Home

Here are some ideas on how you can host Reflections events at your school and at home.

Hosting In School

  • Offer a Reflections Club
  • Invite the Whole Family to Your Meeting
  • Host a Family Art Night
  • Setup a Back to School Reflections Table

Hosting At Home.

  • Discover Cultural Heritage through Folk and Traditional Arts
  • Lead a Family Arts Club
  • Host a Party for Kids
  • Take a Family Field Trip

Contact to your state PTA’s Reflections program for all rules, forms and deadlines and register at PTA.org/Reflections to share your participation in the program. Questions? Reach out to your state PTA or email Info@PTA.org.

Support the Arts at #PTACon18

This year at our 2018 Convention & Expo, National PTA has made a commitment to the arts by supporting New Orleans-based nonprofit KID smART in their work to engage children in dynamic, creative and rigorous learning through the arts.

KID smART was created in 1999 in response to the decreasing availability of arts education in local public schools with the vision to empower all children to unlock their full academic, creative and personal potential. Their current focus is arts integration—linking instruction in the arts with instruction in the academic curriculum to increase students’ academic achievement, build their critical thinking skills, foster creativity and imagination and enhance their social and emotional growth.

In a KID smART classroom, students might learn the water cycle through dance, understand fractions by mixing paint colors or explore complex vocabulary words through pantomime. The learning is rigorous and dynamic; it is designed to engage students with a variety of learning styles and abilities so that all may excel.

KID smART is supporting arts education in the New Orleans area by:

  • Partnering with K–8 public schools to embed professional teaching artists in classrooms
  • Increasing the capacity of teachers and professional teaching artists to deliver arts-integrated instruction that meets next-generation academic standards
  • Creating and demonstrating models of excellence in arts-integrated instruction
  • Providing arts enrichment in after-school and community-based programs
  • Working alongside others to advocate for the arts and broaden the conversation around the definition of student achievement.

As you can imagine, serving over 3,000 students and 800 teachers annually with a limited budget, KID smART is in need of art supplies. This is where you come in! Please consider donating art supplies either online or in person at the 2018 National PTA Convention & Expo in New Orleans, where KID smART will be showcasing Louisiana mask-making traditions through a fun, hands-on mask-making activity. Drop by during PTA Palooza on Saturday, June 23 from 10:15 a.m. to 2 p.m.

To learn more about KID smART, please visit KIDsmart.org. To donate art supplies online, check out KID smART’s Amazon Wish List. Thank you for your support in giving back to this wonderful organization.


Amy Weinberg is the manager of programs and partnerships for National PTA.

PTA Reflections: Within Reach

PTA Reflections is a national program that sparks students’ imagination, curiosity and participation in the arts! Each PTA partners with their school and community to offer activities, events and awards for families to enjoy. Check out these fun ideas on how to bring Reflections to your community—in school and at home.

Reflections at School

Reflections will empower students to take charge of their own learning and make personal connections across their community. Share these ideas with teachers and school leaders to help increase student engagement and deepen learning.

TIP 1: Introduce Reflections at a faculty meeting early in the school year to offer ideas on how the annual theme can align with school and classroom goals.

TIP 2: Connect with student leaders and club sponsors who may be able to offer support to interested students before/after school or during school lunch/recess times.

Offer a Reflections Club. Host a series of after-school workshops for students to explore each arts category. Allow teachers, teaching-artists and community artists to inspire students and lend their expertise in guiding creative ideas and supporting technical skills. Coordinate with your visiting instructors ahead of time to align their activity with this year’s annual theme. Choose a time that doesn’t conflict with curricular and extra-curricular activities and provide supplies for students. Reflections activities can also be hosted by school and community partners (e.g. libraries, scout troops, YMCAs, BGCs, etc.)

Invite the Whole Family to Your Meeting. Dedicate space and provide supplies for students to have fun. Ask student leaders to share their artistic talents and inspire students to use supplies to create their own original works. Provide time at the end of your meeting for students to share their interpretations on the theme. If any works are still in progress, ask students to share their ideas/plans. Don’t forget to send everyone home with an entry form and an invitation to your Reflections celebration!

Host a Family Art Night. Welcome families to explore Reflections, together! Invite teachers, teaching artists and community artists to help you lead art-making activities based on the annual theme. Start small by offering one or two activities (e.g. Visual Arts; Literature). Or, go big by offering all six activities (e.g. Dance Choreography; Film Production; Literature; Music Composition; Photography; Visual Arts). Start the evening by announcing the theme and introducing your station leaders. End the evening by announcing your submission deadline, passing out entry forms and collecting any finished works.

Set Up a Back-to-School Reflections Table. Make sure everyone knows about Reflections when they come back to school! Inspire participation by showcasing past winning works in highly visible locations. Also, dedicate space for distributing materials and collecting entries. Consider displaying a virtual gallery or hosting student performances to draw greater attention to your Reflections station and assign a student leader or parent volunteer to help answer any questions on how to participate.

Reflections at Home 

Share these ideas with parents/guardians to help students find inspiration at home and around their community. Creative sparks can happen anywhere and sometimes all it takes is a little space and time to stretch the imagination and start the arts.

TIP: Dedicate a safe place in your home/community where students can feel welcomed to express their thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Discover Cultural Heritage through Folk and Traditional Arts. The Folk and Traditional Arts remind us of who we are and what we believe as a family or community. They are deeply rooted in history, tradition and culture, allowing us to explore our heritage, language, religion, occupation and geographic region. Discuss your traditions and have a conversation about the types of music, dance, crafts and/or oral expression your family have created and enjoyed across generations.

Lead a Family Arts Club. Whether it’s a structured like a book club or just a discussion around the dinner table, start a conversation about the annual Reflections theme. Yes—that means fun for the adults too! Give your family members an assignment to explore what the theme means to them. Feeling ambitious? Explore an arts category each week leading up to your local entry deadline.

Host a Party for Kids. Whether it’s a birthday celebration or a simple get-together, ask your child to invite their peers to join them for an “art party.” Throughout the party, offer activities. Allow kids to share their art with each other and send them home with a treat bag. When the party ends, ask parents to complete their child’s entry form and ensure works are submitted on time.

Take a Family Field Trip. Bring the Reflections theme with you on your next family escapade! Consider places that help kids explore their world, including museums, history centers, art galleries, performance venues, libraries, cultural centers and religious institutions. You can also bring the theme with you to sporting events, playgrounds, parks and even the grocery store. Wherever you go, it’s important to help your family make connections among what they’ve learned or experienced and to the theme.

For more ideas and to access your free digital kit, visit PTA.org/Reflections!

Ethan Clark is the Manager of Education and Arts Initiatives at National PTA.