What is creativity? And why is creativity important?
Such questions were discussed and dissected this week at St. Margaret’s, as the school welcomed author, presenter and early-childhood expert Sonia Yoshizawa to campus as constructivist-in-residence. Ms. Yoshizawa led a full week of professional development, conversation and observation in the Early Childhood School as well as meeting with arts faculty, diving into the importance of creativity for individual and societal growth.
Ms. Yoshizawa is the author of three books, including Nurturing Creativity: An Essential Mindset for Young Children’s Learning, a topic that was a main focus of her week at St. Margaret’s. She also serves as coordinator of research and services at the Center of Excellence for Early Childhood Learning and Development at East Tennessee State University.
Early Childhood School Director Cris Lozon has known Ms. Yoshizawa dating back to their time teaching in Japan, and the two currently serve together on the board of the Association of Constructivist Teaching.
“We have had many conversations through the years on children’s learning and how they construct knowledge through play,” Dr. Lozon said. “Those discussions drew me to invite her to work with our teachers at St. Margaret’s. Her latest book on nurturing creativity further emphasized the value she could bring to St. Margaret’s—professional community and parents alike—through an extended residence at our school. We are so thrilled to have her here.”
It was a busy week for Ms. Yoshizawa. She met with Early Childhood School teachers, observed student learning in classrooms, the Early Childhood School Outdoor Classroom and the St. Margaret’s Garden, and additionally met with Visual Arts Department Chair Jesse Standlea, Lower School art teacher Mary Mayer and Director of Choral Music Adela Kwan.
She also led a popular presentation in Sillers Hall for Early School and Lower School parents, where she discussed how parents can help prepare children for a successful future in a world filled with unique challenges, some of which we can’t foresee. She explained how researchers and experts have emphasized the importance of the 4 “C’s” in a constantly changing world – communication, collaboration, critical thinking and, tying it all together, creativity.
The Early Childhood School’s in-service day on Friday was also led by Ms. Yoshizawa, who sparked discussions and activities focused on physical knowledge activities, the development of creativity and how teachers question children to promote thinking.
Ms. Yoshizawa is the latest scholar-in-residence to bring their expertise to St. Margaret’s and enhance the learning for Tartans of all ages. Previous scholars in residence include cultural competency scholar-in-residence Rosetta Lee
in 2017, artist-in-residence Jesse Colin Jackson
in 2018 and artist-in-residence Ken Takashi Horii
in 2019. Ms. Yoshizawa is the first on-campus scholar-in-residence in more than two years, as the school continues emphasizing collaborations with top academic minds to bring fresh perspectives to the school’s vibrant academic program.
“It is deeply impactful for the development of both our students and our professional community to collaborate with outside experts in a variety of disciplines and bring their perspectives to our campus,” Head of School Will Moseley said. “Such partnerships inspire faculty, they energize students and they support academic excellence, growth and innovation here at St. Margaret’s.”