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Community Connection: Eye-opening, Enlightening, and Fabulous

November 16, 2010

Some of our devoted Go van Gogh volunteers have participated for many years, so we design special workshops for them with the goal of making connections – with works of art, with fellow volunteers, and with personal teaching experiences – in fun and fresh ways.  These themed workshops often feature guest speakers, such as local artists or our colleagues in the education department.   

Our last workshop focused on the theme “PLAY”; you can view pictures from the workshop in our intern Karen’s photo post.  We invited Leticia Salinas, the 2009-2010 McDermott Intern for Family Experiences, to lead conversations and activities with volunteers in front of works of art entirely in Spanish.  Volunteers commented after the workshop that their experience with Leticia was “eye-opening”, “very valuable”, “helpful”, “enlightening”, and “fabulous”.

Leticia leads the Paint the Town DMA Summer Art Camp.

Tell us about your connection with the DMA.

I’ve been in Dallas for about ten years, and during college I visited the DMA every now and then and attended Late Nights.  Last year, I was the McDermott Intern in the Family Experiences department.  I continue to help during Late Nights and other special Family Experiences programs. 

What are you doing now?

I am a Special Education Bilingual Teaching Assistant at Thomas Elementary in Plano ISD.  I help teachers in classrooms with special education and/or bilingual students, primarily kindergarten through second grade. 

Describe your session with Go van Gogh volunteers.

I gave two tours in Spanish focusing on Jackson Pollock’s Cathedral and three hats in the African collection.  This helped volunteers put themselves in the position of ESL students and also showed them effective ways of teaching these learners.  Hopefully, the volunteers were able to gauge how these students feel and will be able to use that knowledge as a tool when they teach.  It was a really great experience, and I enjoyed it.  The volunteers were all very willing to participate even though it was a different language and they may have felt uncomfortable.

What do you consider important when working with ESL students, and how does this apply to teaching with works of art?

When working with ESL students, there has to be something more than language.  You have to be really creative and think of different ways to teach a subject.  This applies to all subjects.  I think art is a great way to teach ESL learners because they have a visual picture of what you’re talking about.  You can get creative and lead activities that are more hands-on and fun, playing with color and lines and movement.  All of those concepts are easy to teach to students who don’t speak English fluently.

Finish this sentence: In ten years, I’d like to be…

I hope to be at a place where I’m happy with my job and I love what I do, whether it be working in a museum or with kids or doing something totally different that I never thought I would do.  Hopefully, in ten years I’ll have it all figured out.

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