Working Together to Create Change
Deanna Clemente Milne joined the Shaker Schools in 2005, after working in the Warrensville Heights City School District. In 2012, she joined forces with her fellow Woodbury art teacher Robert Bognar and a host of volunteers to launch a program that pairs art with social justice, called Woodbury Creating Change. Every two years, the students craft and paint ceramic items and sell them to benefit local and international charities.
I often think, “What do I want students to have with them forever when they leave the art room at Woodbury?” Of course I want them to understand color theory and the elements of art. But in the end, I think it’s all about how to have our students think creatively and artistically about solving the world’s problems. How can they be more empathetic? I think so much of the hate that exists in the world is due to lack of empathy.
Woodbury Creating Change really centers around that idea: How do we get them to think about using art to solve a problem they see in their community or in the world?
The inquiry statement is “Through collaboration, a community can create change.” That connects perfectly with working together to try to make a difference. The two projects we made in the past were soup bowls and mugs, and we had dozens of local restaurants that donated their food and their time to be a part of the event. The proceeds have benefited local charities, like the Shaker Hunger Center, and international charities, like Isaac’s Wells, which provides clean drinking water to villagers in Darfur.
There’s a big difference between a community service project and a service-learning project. We had the Sudanese Lost Boys come in and tell their stories to the students. We want them to really take it to heart and have a personal connection with it.
“The International Baccalaureate philosophy is such a gift for this project, it just fits like a glove.”
Every year they find ways to take more ownership and make it more of a community event. This is a good age for this project because the kids are able to have a more authentic conversation about the needs of a community. I have a student who told me that he’s so excited to come in and make extra tapas plates because he feels like he’s helping other people. They really are getting it, that they can be creative problem-solvers through art and that you can use your art to make a difference.