By Lower School Art Teacher Mirinda Reynolds
Downtown Coffee Service Project
Interior mural- stone cottage
520 Caroline Street
FA Artists and Mrs. Reynolds, LS Art Teacher
Experiential learning involves a process that allows students a chance to develop knowledge, skills, and life lessons from direct experiences outside a traditional academic setting.
As the Lower School art teacher since 2007 and an artist and teacher in Stafford since 1994, I firmly believe in experiential learning as part of the foundation for my students' enhanced quality of life and art appreciation. The opportunity of creating public art in the form of murals for the City of Fredericksburg has led me to seek out service projects for students who want real-life art experiences and may need service hours for honors programs.
Agora, the newest gourmet coffee shop in downtown Fredericksburg, is located in the heart of the quaint historic district along Caroline Street. It is owned by sisters MJ and Andi Stone, a pair of Brooke Point graduates (and former English students of my husband, Dewey). Their products are made in the open kitchen and feature many local artists' work and music throughout the building. Study desks, chess tables, and donated books await visitors of all ages.
When approached by the owners about the possibility of a mural, I suggested a service project where I would lead the project with design and receive painting assistance by our Upper School and Middle School students during out-of-school hours. After getting approval from everyone at FA and the owners, I started to search out scaffolding donations from parents. I purchased my own set for $150 and used remaining exterior quality paint from other murals, purchased $100 of supplies, and set up a Google document to recruit students. The rest fell into place, with Harlow Chandler (parent of first-grader Colin and junior-kindergartner Erica) volunteering his photography talents to document the two-month journey.
To date, we have logged 45 hours and have about 35 more to go. We may have to finish the mural during summer break of 2016. The mural includes a stone facade, a morning glory-filled window box, colorful shutters, and brick accents. This is our gift to a local business and to our students for the amazing life opportunity. Thank you on behalf of the students for entrusting us with such a great way to create!
Experiential learning is at the core of an FA education. Wondering what other ways an independent school education stands apart? Read Head of School Karen Moschetto's thoughts on why parents should choose an independent school education for their child.