Community Partnerships Enrich Teacher and Student Learning Experiences

By James Wells posted 11-11-2019 07:37

With 100+ years of serving educators in the classroom and beyond, Crayola has a legacy and commitment to education. With our professional learning programs, we’re dedicated to providing an engaging experience, opportunities for all learners, imaginative STEAM learning, and the tools educators need to build a vibrant, creative school culture and strong family partnerships. In order to make these experiences even more meaningful and connected to real-world applications and skills that students and educators need to be successful in this new era, we’ve established impactful partnerships with leading education and community organizations, like the Georgia Aquarium and the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

“Arts integration approaches are key to student success, but can be challenging for educators to implement in the classroom,” said @Cheri Sterman, director of education for Crayola. “By inviting educators to experience the connection between 21st century skills and art through transformational hands-on interactions with museum collections, we believe that participants will walk away excited and empowered to incorporate new techniques in the classroom.”

To launch the program, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and Crayola hosted Bartlett City Schools educators - rather than students - for the “Teacher Field Trip Experience,” an all-day interactive professional development event. The program leveraged museum artifacts for lessons on visual decoding techniques and STEAM for teachers to incorporate into their lessons to increase student critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration across subjects. Approximately 30 educators from six elementary schools in the district participated in the event, which featured experiential learning opportunities including the following:

  • Toy and game design: aligned with the African toy series
  • Design thinking: educators evaluated works of art including The Hen and the Hawk, painted by John Steuart Curry
  • “Tech unplugged” coding algorithms: Clouds Over Alabama, painted by Roger Brown, was used to decode shapes and angles
  • STEAM: educators embarked on a curated museum tour and explored the utilization of artifacts like a barometer from the early 1800s to teach lessons on water, wind, and weather

“Our hope is for educators to see museums as partners for education,” said Kathy Dumlao, director of education and interpretation for the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. “This collaboration is a model that will help teachers and students engage with museum artifacts to create a holistic and interactive educational experience that enhances what students are learning in class.”

The experience was designed to provide educators with a creative interdisciplinary approach to teach visual literacy and advance 21st-century skills and demonstrate the power of integrating the arts in a variety of disciplines. Future collaborations with the Brooks Museum are planned with Shelby County Schools. Crayola also plans to work with additional schools and cultural institutions nationwide throughout the 2020-2021 school year.

“This was a Saturday well spent! I learned so much about STEAM in one day than the countless PD's I have been to in the past. Our trainer was very knowledgeable about the content and my favorite part was wrapping my head around the fact that STEAM is not JUST about the Technology component. Crayola pushed us to step out of our box and get creative.”

“This is what great teaching looks like. These projects are holistic teaching. If students are designing a toy that explains the water cycle, they are demonstrating an understanding of science. They are writing instructions for the toy using correct punctuation. They are using higher-order thinking skills to plan the design. This kind of teaching helps students realize there is more than one way to solve a problem.

Georgia educators can take a deep dive into STEAM, Literacy, Family Engagement, or Creative Leadership for a fun and engaging opportunity to learn and apply real-world applications and decoding techniques at the Georgia Aquarium. Reflection Journals for all participants inspire innovation and creative new teaching strategies aligned to the Georgia STEAM initiative, NGSS, Math, ELA & ISTE standards. Specially selected supplies and aquarium resources make for a uniquely hands-on and immersive learning experience that will reignite teacher creativity and inspire classroom applications to do the very next day!

“Learning about the aligned Georgia Department of Education Science Standards and STEM Georgia Aquarium curriculum offered for K-8 with Crayola during this workshop... our wheels are turning as we explore how to integrate our upcoming PBLs!”

To find out how Crayola can help your school or district partner with a local museum, aquarium, or other cultural institution for immersive professional learning that provides exciting project idea starters and real-world applications, call 800-291-6020 or email