I began volunteering for Art Sphere Inc. (ASI) in 2014 assisting Kristin Groenveld with preschool art classes at Fishtown Recreation Center. Shortly after working with Kristin I began leading the classes myself and training a new volunteer who helped me co-lead. Volunteering as the preschool art teacher at Fishtown was an extremely beneficial learning experience. I learned how to develop my own lesson plans, prepare materials for each class, attend to the needs of specific students, blog about my experience, and posted lesson plans to the ASI website to share with others. What impacted me most was learning first-hand how the creative arts can have such a profound impact on children and their education. I noticed students gaining confidence in themselves, their artwork, and in other aspects of the classroom environment. Students became more active in classroom discussions, developed listening skills, and learned the basic skill set needed for following directions. I enjoyed observing students who felt confident in their abilities to helped their classmates learn how to use art materials/how to execute the projects.
Most importantly, students expanded their creativity beyond the classroom environment by continuing to express themselves through the arts at home. The learning experiences through ASI were endless for both the students and myself!
In the spring of 2014 I was hired as the first paid art teacher to work for ASI. My experience through ASI at Fishtown Recreation Center solidified my decision to pursue a creative arts career. Art Sphere Inc., as well as the teachers and students at Fishtown Recreation Center, provided me the foundation I needed in order to take the next step in my life. Volunteering and working for ASI helped me grow and mature as an emerging art therapist. I am now studying at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, in the Masters of Art in Art Therapy program. Additionally, i am working at Lieberman CJE Senior Life, in Skokie IL as the art therapy intern with elder adults diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. In the fall of 2015-spring of 2016 i will be working for Marillac St. Vincent Family Services, in Chicago IL as the art therapy intern with preschool children and young teens. I want to thank Art Sphere Inc. and everyone involved in the organization who helped me to become the person I am today! I will forever be thankful for my ASI experience.
Mary Hager, BFA
Saint Joseph’s University, 2014
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Candidate for MAAT 2016