OPEF's Art Start program brings professional artists into the classroom

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By Evan O'Brien

Content Manager

Provided by Deb Abrahamson
Oak Park Education Foundation

Art Start, a program started by the Oak Park Education Foundation (OPEF), brings professional sculptors, painters, dancers, musicians and storytellers into kindergarten, first and second grade classes in District 97. The program gives local artists the opportunity to share their craft with students and teachers.

To highlight the Art Start program, OPEF's Gretchen Junker produced a video featuring Oak Park artist Jonathan Franklin as he works with Lincoln School first graders. Franklin shared his knowledge of printmaking, pastels and oils with students as they explore the world of butterflies.

Several other Oak Park artists are currently participating in the Art Start program. Dancer Margot Toppen joins artist Karen Light as they teach Longfellow students about cultures and traditions from around the world through mask making. Jill Kramer Goldstein will be making mosaics with students at Holmes as part of their study of geometry. Shannon Greve from the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust will work with Beye students as they learn about shapes and construction.

In addition to Art Start, OPEF offers other innovative enrichment programs for District 97 schools. Programs include a robotics club for middle school students, engineering with Legos and workshops where students learn from scientists and architects.

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