The Arts Festival at my mentor school is the culmination of the visual, musical, and theatrical arts the students have been practicing throughout the year. It is dramatic. All of the art from the halls comes down in one day, and the walls remain a blank canvas for a week, as families and community anticipate the coming adornments. The entire school community bands together the day of to transform the interior of the school into a joyful explosion of art work that the students have put their hearts and hands into. In my opinion, this event fosters camaraderie amongst the teachers, staff, and administration that is more jovial and dedicated than any other event in the year. Teachers have worked up to the last hour to help their students create the content of the festival. There is a palpable buzz throughout the school as staplers punch away to get the art up in a big hurry. Everyone is tired, punchy, and excited to be helping to make the show a success.
This year the kindergarten/first grade team band created an “Under the Sea” themed hallway. It is rare for our teacher team to spend time working together without the students present. The four kindergarten teachers, the facilities manager, and myself shared a playful energy as we worked together to transform that hallway into a mystical deep-sea world. As my mentor and I worked together to tie finger-knitted “tentacles” onto a painted umbrella to make a giant jellyfish, we shared a mutual pride for the piece our class community had created. One of the classes created a giant shark with a wide toothy mouth to frame a photo booth area. All the teachers crammed in, and were the first subjects. Another class made a giant yellow submarine. The hanging of this vessel turned out to be a delicate job. Our facilities manager patiently hung and rehung the submarine until everyone had voiced opinions, and it was just so. We all sat together listening to peaceful whale sounds that would compliment our gallery that evening.
The event begins with the whole community gathering in the auditorium to watch the students sing, dance, and dramatize. I had the opportunity to be an observer for the performance. It was remarkable to witness my colleagues collaborating tirelessly to orchestrate the performance. At this point the staff knows one another well, and intuitively assume supportive roles. I realize through having the opportunity to step back and observe my colleagues working so hard to coordinate an extraordinary for families, students, and staff to celebrate that I am blessed to have worked with these brilliant professionals during my three years at this school.