Volunteers keeping art education in QPS classrooms

More than five years ago, the Quincy School District was forced to cut art teachers out of elementary schools.

KHQA's Melissa Shriver shows you a local organization is filling in the educational gaps with the help of some artistic volunteers.

Patricia Mahoney-Kuhn is not a teacher at Washington School in Quincy. But she's filling the arts gap for these students as a volunteer for the Quincy Art Center's Art Mentor program.

Kuhn said, "It gives them an opportunity to be creative, be expressive, it's another form of learning. Not all kids learn the same way so this gives kids an opportunity to expand on that and have fun doing it. It just opens up a new avenue of learning."

When art was cut out of elementary school classrooms, basic art education like primary and secondary colors and the color wheel went with it.

Through the Quincy Art Center, 18 volunteers like Kuhn are trained every week on the new lesson plans to bring into the schools.

Jenneifer Teter, Director of education said, "Early on, especially, they can learn hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills. They learn to express themselves artistically and won't be afraid to do it later on in life."

The Art Center staff creates lesson plans to meet official Illinois learning standards. So while kids are enjoying their art class, they're also preparing for arts questions that will appear on standardized tests.

Kuhn said, "They need to know the basics, the fundamentals before they reach fourth grade and are expected to do the big projects."

Teacher Patsy Cornwell said, "The grant fills that gap so the children can actually learn these things. So it's not just coloring, it's the principles they wouldn't normally get to learn."

The Quincy Art Center has brought the program to three Quincy schools. That's 900 children still getting art education when many classes are losing it.

The Quincy school district still has art programs beginning in 4th grade at Baldwin School ... but not in elementary schools.

The Quincy Art Center's Art mentor program costs $18,000 a year.

It's completely funded by grants, personal donations and fundraising through the Quincy Art Center.

If you want to donate or participate, you should visit the Quincy Art Center website or call them at 217-223-5900.