The West End News spoke to Side x Side founders, Beth Wilbur Van Mierlo and Annette Kraus, in December. They announced receipt of a grant for $1.9 million to fund a pilot program that integrates arts education into core curriculum studies.
It looks like it has been a busy spring for them. Currently, Side x Side is piloting five different programs at Reiche Elementary School.
The goal is to introduce these programs next year at Riverton Elementary, Ocean Avenue Elementary, and East End Community School.
BRINGING HISTORY TO LIFE (Grades 4 and 5)
After students wrote about different aspects of World War II, two Portland filmmakers worked with them to create a 9-minute video based on what they learned.
HYME TIME (Kindergarten)
Members of the Portland Symphony Orchestra, Portland Stage Company, a dancer, and an improv artist worked with students to discover different ways of expressing the feelings found in a poem.
MOVING OCEANS (Grade 2)
Ocean expert and author Mary Cerullo worked with second graders to learn about sea creatures that live in the Gulf of Maine. After completing their research in the classroom, students will create a 3D sculpture of their chosen creature in the studio of Portland sculptor, Nance Parker.
DESIGNING PORTLAND (Grade 3)
Reiche third graders are working with mapmaker Molly Brown and Wabanaki poet and artist, Mikhu Paul, to create an innovative multi-layered 3-D map showing changes in the school’s neighborhood from the time before the European settlers arrived through the modern day.
ANIMALS AROUND US (Grade 1)
First graders at Reiche are learning about animals that thrive in the urban environment around their school and throughout the diverse habitats of Maine. Wildlife expert Josh Sparks of Sparks Ark visited Reiche for the Kick-Off event and shared his knowledge about the many different animals in his menagerie.
Students then chose a native animal to research. They have spent the last week with Side x Side teaching artists in the classroom creating interactive chapter books to present the facts they have learned.
At the culminating Celebration of Learning with friends and families, the kids will share their books and reteach their knowledge about lobsters, squirrels, bears, lynx, foxes, moose, eagles, and more.