Arizona Education Association

Fall 2015

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24 Fall 2015 | AEA Advocate WE ARE AEA! • WE ARE AEA! • WE ARE AEA! • WE ARE AEA! Infusing Diversity, Acceptance, and Skill in Art Class By Lisa Loschetter-Geusic It began as an art class activity to meet a need, but it developed into a journey of teamwork, unity, and realization for many students. An expression of youth and acceptance, a stunning mural, now stands as a warm welcome to all who enter Highland High school and serves as a reminder of how art sends a powerful message. The school mural depicts a multitude of diverse students from various ethnicities who have different high school interests, club affiliations, and appearances. Tanya kohlenberg, Nationally Board Certified art teacher and Gilbert Education Association member at Highland High school, was asked to create a mural with her students in the reception area of her school of over 3,100 students. she collaborated with her AP art students and felt the focus should promote inclusion on campus to showcase the diverse population and welcome students from all walks of life. This inspirational project spanned over four weeks. Kohlenberg carefully prepared her students for this assignment by having the school counselor and ADL adviser conduct student diversity exercises over three class periods. The training promoted awareness of and sensitivity to the individuality of each and every student focusing on what it is like to be the student who is excluded or who feels and looks different. The training empowered students with knowledge and stirred personal emotions as each recalled being left out at various points in life. students participated in role playing and openly shared experiences of what exclusion looks and feels like. They discussed what it can do to people over time. students shared challenges with discrimination and realized many had common experiences. The class came together to support one another in the end. Kohlenberg explained, "We brainstormed

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