Two Sixth-Grade Teachers Team Up to Deliver Italian-Inspired Art Project
By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
Palisadian Julie Kern Schwerdtfeger and Adriana Sheinbaum, sixth-grade teachers at UCLA Lab School, called on children and students from Pacific Palisades and beyond to join a project to uplift their surrounding communities amid a global pandemic.
The duo drew inspiration from Italy, where children were hanging rainbow banners at the front of their homes in early March that read “andrà tutto bene,” which translates to “everything will be fine.”
Schwerdtfeger and Sheinbaum teach a dual-language program and worked out translations in both Spanish and English: “todo saldra bien” and “everything’s gonna be alright”—inspired by the Bob Marley song.
The project calls for individuals to be creative and seek materials they have at home, from an old sheet for painting to a cardboard box that can be repurposed. Participants were encouraged to use paint, oil pastels, chalk or markers to create a rainbow banner with their choice of words—ultimately using it to decorate their home’s exterior.
Students Charlotte Phelan and Ayuka Yang from the duo’s Upper II class created a slideshow explaining how to contribute: “Sketch something like a rainbow or a heart, and put lots of meaningful messages … hang it up somewhere where lots of people can see it like in a window, on your door or balcony … so that people can see it and smile while walking by.”
“The idea is to lift other people up and to give signs of hope in the community, and to give children some beautiful and constructive things to do at home by finding materials and turning it into a message,” Schwerdtfeger said. “It’s just putting a positive sign out to the world, in partnership with the children in Italy and in Brooklyn and places all over the world … we want to be a part of that.”
The project was originally intended for their classroom and was eventually shared with the rest of their school—and has now extended to neighboring communities like the Palisades.
“Now we’re just trying to get the word out a little farther,” Schwerdtfeger said to the Palisadian-Post.
The duo has also converted their class to distance learning since Safer at Home orders have been in place.
“Right now we’re being called upon to do things that are challenging for all of us, and it takes flexibility and it takes patience to learn the technology, but they really are working incredibly hard and we’re very proud of them,” Schwerdtfeger said. “It can be overwhelming, all of this, and we’re not requiring anybody to do more than take care of themselves and their families.”
As the oldest group of students at UCLA Lab School, Schwerdtfeger and Sheinbaum explained that their class has been designing leadership projects based around recent problems they have observed.
Some students are focusing on the elderly being lonely and losing contact with their families, how the school can continue to distribute hot lunches to students, and more.
“They’re developing empathy for these situations by having interviews with people who are experiencing these things,” Schwerdtfeger said. “It’s giving us something constructive to do and the kids a meaningful way to do something positive right now, to think that we can be a part of solutions.”
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