Seven members of St. Margaret’s faculty spent two days at the Rhode Island School of Design, a unique professional-development opportunity highlighted by facility tours, classroom observations and interaction with students and faculty at one of the top art and design schools in the world.
The teachers came away with new ideas to innovate STEAM curriculum and enhance spaces in St. Margaret’s visual arts, science and STEAM block classrooms. The St. Margaret’s faculty members making the trip were visual arts department chair Jesse Standlea, Lower School STEAM teachers Mary Mayer, David Beshk and Erin Moore, Middle School STEAM teachers Eric Harrington and Ashley Ricart, and Early Childhood School atelierista Isabela Valle.
RISD is a world-renowned art and design college, and St. Margaret’s teachers were able to explore all corners of the campus during their visit. They spent time in the school’s famed Nature Lab to learn more about art-and-design concepts inspired by the natural world. They sat in on drawing and design classes, and explored the architecture, industrial design, furniture and apparel design, and illustration programs at the college.
“We had so many takeaways from this extraordinary opportunity,” Mr. Standlea said. “There are ideas to enhance STEAM Block projects in grades 4 and 5, to fine-tune a form-and-function interdisciplinary unit taking place this year, to further connect students to the natural world in projects, and to better incorporate spatial dynamics into our visual arts curriculum. At a place like RISD, the inspiration is everywhere.”
St. Margaret’s has a relationship with RISD dating back several years. Tartan alumna Shelby Nicholas ’16 is a student at RISD and has actively forged connections between faculty at both schools. RISD leaders visited St. Margaret’s in 2016, and Mr. Standlea visited RISD in 2017. Most recently, RISD professor Ken Horii spent a week at St. Margaret’s as a scholar-in-residence
, teaching students of all ages art and design concepts in form and function.
In between tours, demonstrations and observations, the Tartan faculty met with Mr. Horii and also visited with Ms. Nicholas.
“Something that stood out to us about the visit was that faculty at RISD would come up and share their program and love of art and design with us,” Mr. Standlea said. “There was a creative hum that came from living lives of purpose in pursuit of their interests. It was inspiring to see.”