The Penn State School of Visual Arts (SoVA) Art Education program provides internship experiences, which are both vital and meaningful to the curriculum, as well as the overall student experience. One such internship is offered at the Bennett Family Center at Penn State’s University Park campus.
In the internship, students critically engage the roles of art in early childhood through learning, teaching art pedagogy, and developing a broad understanding of the research in this field. “This is one example of another powerful story about how practicum and internship experiences—what most of the rest of the University calls ‘engaged scholarship’—for our students contribute to their overall comprehension of their emerging roles as teachers, and about the ways in which children learn about and through art,” said Steve Carpenter, professor of art education, adding “we do this all the time.”
Below, Abbie Enders shares her experience as an intern with the Bennett Family Center:
My name is Abbie Enders and I am a junior majoring in Art Education at Penn State. As the SoVA Intern at the Bennett Family Center for the 2015 spring semester, I had the opportunity to have first-hand experience working with and creating art experiences for kindergarteners, preschoolers, and toddlers. Throughout the semester, I collaborated with teachers and students to develop an emergent curriculum supported through weekly provocations, which contributed to the development of an end-of-semester art show in the HUB-Robeson Center.
This internship allowed me to see the importance of documentation in art experiences, for example, through student responses, discoveries, creations, pictures, blog entries, audio recordings, or even QR codes, as it is important to involve the students and families in art processes. I believe that having this rewarding practice with the students has prepared me for my future experiences with the Art Education program here at Penn State, including Saturday School, as well as Pittsburgh Student Teaching, and ultimately, obtaining employment after graduation.
Most of my work at the Bennett Family Center took place in the Integrated Arts Kindergarten classroom. To develop and then facilitate an emergent curriculum, the students and I engaged in sketchbook work and other various art experiences to unfold true student interests. We experimented and worked with Kodak cameras and even engaged in a printmaking cyanotype art project that involved students’ favorite photographs.
This teaching experience has, in turn, taught me a number of things. For example, students of all ages are constantly asking questions and inquiring about the world around them. As a future art educator, I have the unique privilege to facilitate and support these questions by developing meaningful and applicable art experiences in school. I have found that young learners have the ability to be extremely responsible and accountable for their own artwork and learning processes. Finally, I have grown to truly enjoy working with younger age/grade levels. Engaging in meaningful art experiences allows both the teacher and the student to grow and develop as important contributors to the contemporary world in which we live and to continue learning through art.
Photo courtesy of Abbie Enders.