The Beginning

3rd Grader's Talking Stick with Susan Mead

2010 saw The Jacksonville Center’s first real partnership with a Floyd County school to help create an after-school art and reading program.

This pilot program began in October 2010.  Activities included Ghanaian Drum and Dance (Nii Anang’s students helped him carry his drums to and from his car and were almost always last to the buses because they didn’t want to leave!); cultural connectivity through art (Susan Mead’s group of 7th & 3rd graders made their own talking sticks, and used them); a community mosaic project (led by Lore Deighan) that was worked on by all the kids throughout the entire school year and which we hope to display on the Ceramics studio wall at the Jax.

At a recent meeting with the instructors, it was agreed that the best way to describe their activities with the kids was “using art as a tool for engaging and empowering Floyd County’s struggling youth”.
Says Deborah West, Principal at Floyd County Elementary School where the program is based: “Well, the first week of the program is a huge success! We had 43 students Tuesday and 50 yesterday out of the 53. When we announced the art activities and who would be doing what, they actually cheered! It was the neatest thing. Wednesday at school all of the students were talking about their art program and we actually had 2 students decide to come to tutoring because of this. Your partnership has made a huge difference in how these students see the tutoring portion of the program. Wonderful!”

It was only by the skin of our teeth – and, more importantly, the generous last-minute donations of those who believe in the importance of childhood creativity as we do – that The Jacksonville Center was able to partner with Floyd County Elementary School to provide at-risk kids with an after-school reading and arts program. These kids are eager to learn and eager to create, providing ample enthusiasm for our team of artisan-instructors to build on during their twice-weekly lessons.

With thanks going also to the amazing healthy snacks program run by Plenty!, Floyd again demonstrates our belief that while individuals can raise children, children only benefit when the whole village bands together!