Walter C. Black Elementary School residency program will create outdoor learning space


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Walter C. Black Elementary School in Hightstown has been awarded an Artists in Education Residency Grant for the 2020-21 school year.

Michelle Ruff, second-grade special education teacher, and Mariagrace Welsh, fine arts teacher wrote the grant last year and were notified late last spring that Walter C. Black Elementary was chosen as a recipient, according to information provided by the Artists in Education Residency Grant Program.

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The school will collaborate with artist Marilyn Keating for the residency.

The goal for this year’s residency is to create an artfully inspired outdoor learning space at the school, guided by the students. The learning space will have an outdoor chalkboard, seating area, sculptures and installation art that the students create, and room for the students to be socially distanced, according to the statement.

Keating will help facilitate the project with remote and hybrid second graders.

The residency is anticipated to begin shortly after spring break. “

Outdoor learning spaces are a wonderful addition to schools. This outdoor learning space is special though because it integrates an appreciation of the arts and promotes a connection with our natural world. We are so grateful to have this space at our school,” Principal Heather Gladkowski said in the statement.

“We are very excited to be the recipients of an Artist in Education grant this year. I hope that the outdoor learning space that is created with our visiting artist will be used for many years to come,” Welsh said in the statement.

In addition, Walter C. Black Elementary School also received a $500 grant from Investors Savings Bank to put toward the creation of the outdoor classroom, according to the statement.

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