Artists in the Schools

Teaching Artist Jackie Baxton, brings Yosemite Valley Elementary School students outside for their weekly lesson, aided by teaching assistant, Baby the lamb.

Because we strongly believe that art has the capacity to reach far beyond aesthetics to support rigorous intellectual inquiry, illuminate scientific and mathematical discoveries and concepts, and promote thoughtful conversations about the human condition we are proud of our Artists in the Schools program which taps art’s academic and social potential while building a strong partnership with the Mariposa County Office of Education.

This program places trained teaching artists into all of Mariposa County’s 5th grade classrooms for 8-12 week residencies. These artists have worked with their respective classroom teachers to develop an arts infused, standards-aligned curriculum that teaches art in concert with at least one other academic subject. The residencies provide in-depth, hands-on visual arts and music experiences that develop students’ critical thinking and creative problem solving skills while challenging students to transfer knowledge across traditional subject areas boundaries. “Through viewing, making, and discussing art works, students come to realize that the arts do not exist in isolation, but are always situated within multiple dimensions, including time, space, culture, history, and [the sciences.]” (National Core Arts Standards: A Conceptual Framework for Arts Learning)

Example Curricula

Photography x Poetry Literacy and Science
With photographer Cara Goger, students explored alternative photographic processes and self-portraiture in concert with poetry optics (light science) studies. Within consecutive learning models, students created photographic multi-media collages, long-exposure light paintings, and chlorophyll leaf print-poems that explore students’ experiences during the pandemic lockdown.

For example, students at Lake Don Pedro photographed their classmates holding a single word or a phrase that described their personal experience during 2020. These leaves became a classroom word bank project where students arranged the leaf portraits into various patterns following poetic forms. Play a recording of a cinquain (a five-stanza poem) by an AIS student below:

Sculpture x Math and Science
Teaching artist Jackie Baxton explores three-dimensional artwork by where molding and sculpting models of their own hand, applying lessons about measurements/data, geometry, anatomy/bone structure, and spacial reasoning.

Music and Lyric Writing x United States History and Language Arts
Singer/songwriter Gail Dreifus guides students through comprehensive songwriting in combination with 5th-grade U.S History. After examining song structures, rhyme and rhythm, language devices and more, students conduct in-depth research on important historical figures in the Revolutionary War, and write a lyrical biography which they sing and perform with classmates.

Animation & Drawing x Art History and Media Literacy
With visual artist Bill Davis, students explored elements of artist process, including the progression of art history, right and left hemisphere flexible thinking, drawing fundamentals, systems of abstraction, and GIF animation and design.

Ceramics x Chemistry and Ancient History
Ceramicist Phyllis Becker used her unit, “The Mud Beneath Your Feet,” to examine chemical reactions and the (mathematically measurable) dynamic effects they have on molecular and atomic structure of matter through the creation of whimsical ceramic pieces. Her curriculum was combined with student’s classroom unit on Greek mythology, where students designed and created their own ceramic tile, each based on a Greek myth or character.

Multi-media Arts x Science and Natural History
Students built multimedia art books using paper marbling techniques, watercolors, block prints, threading and more with teaching artist Moira Donohoe. Donohoe combines multimedia instruction with a broad understanding of the cultural, natural, and historical interdependence of various art forms and encourages individualized creative development within each student.

Arts Education Standards:
The Artists in Schools program supports projects that integrate community arts resources — local artists and non-profit arts organizations—into comprehensive, standards-based arts-learning for PreK-12 students during the school day. Applicants’ projects must take place during regular school hours at the school site, and should address the unique circumstances of the school environment.


Debbie Croft: Combining art, education creates great rewards
An article about our 2016 Artists in the Schools program, focusing on the Sierra Foothill Charter School residency with ceramic artists Tiffany Newberry and Phyllis Becker.

2017 Press Releases
Mariposa County Arts Council Provides Artist Residencies in All Elementary Schools Across the County

Mariposa County Arts Council Awarded California Arts Council “Artist in the Schools – Extension” Grant


This program is funded by the Mariposa County Health and Human Services Agency and the California Arts Council’s Artists in the School grant program.

Artists in the School grant program supports projects that integrate community arts partners into culturally and linguistically responsive, sequential, standards-based arts learning for students in preschool through Grade 12 as part of the regular school day, and that address the unique circumstances of the school environment. The intent of the program is to augment and enhance the work of classroom teachers and school-based arts programs by bringing arts resources within the local community into the school culture, not to supplant credentialed arts teachers.

This program is sponsored by Sue Overstreet