ClayToGo Partner Spotlight: Jefferson Community School

This February through May, NCC teaching artists Chris Singewald, Risa Nishiguchi, and Susan Obermeyer brought clay opportunities to Jefferson Community School with art teacher Katie Busch, working with students grades 1 through 8 as part of our most extensive residency to date. During a total of 82 hours, clay passed through the hands of over 400 students. 

From the beginning of the residency, the students were captivated by clay. Their art teacher, Katie Busch, observed, “the first graders had their first experience watching a demonstration on the wheel and were absolutely enthralled by it! When Risa was demonstrating you could hear a pin drop in my classroom.” 

Teaching artist, Chris Singewald, working with students. Students striking a power pose during their session. Teaching artist, Risa Nishiguchi demonstrating on the wheel for a rapt audience.

NCC teaching artists were impressed with the dedication of art teacher Katie Busch. Of Jefferson, teaching artist Risa Nishiguchi remarked, “the staff truly care about the students and are motivated to support their future.” Going above and beyond, Katie invited clay into her classroom and learned how to teach the medium with the support of NCC. NCC assisted in firings and supported Katie in operating Jefferson’s kiln on-site. Not having a background in ceramics, art teacher Katie Busch said, “working with NCC was an excellent professional development opportunity for me, and ultimately benefitted the students.” From working with clay, to materials management, to clean up tips, NCC loves being a resource to schools.

As the residency unfolded, students were able to create in-depth projects. Teaching artist Chris Singewald commented, “it was incredible to see the creative confidence and exploration that students developed through hands-on clay programming from ClayToGo." He noticed that the students had grown in their creativity and problem-solving skills since the previous year of ClayToGo programming. Teaching artist Susan Obermeyer emphasizes that students’ “creativity is their own and unique to them. That's an amazing concept to many students in that they're constantly taught that everything has a finite answer. In art there are many answers to the same question.” The flexible medium of clay has the power to teach perseverance and persistence. “Students fail often--which is a good thing!” comments art teacher Katie Busch.

Long time NCC teaching artist Susan Obermeyer says, “having the opportunity to share the magical qualities of clay with students of all ages is an honor.”

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