R to L: Darlene See (Hoonah), Alison Bremner (Yakutat) and Joe James (Angoon) review classroom kits designed to teach K-5 students to recognize the interpretation of Tlingit designs

For a week August 5 through the 9th at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center (JACC), Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Jineit Academy, the Juneau School District and JACC sponsored 9 school teachers and 9 Tlingit artists from Southeast Alaska to collaborate with one another to design classroom kits for school teachers to use to teach Tlingit form line art in grades K-12 to be used throughout Southeast Alaska.  The intention of this week-long seminar is to educate and upgrade the standards of Tlingit form line art.

Artists and school teachers — L to R: Clarissa Rizal, Konrad Frank, Nicole Demmert, Pauline Johnson, Allie High, Arlene Wilson, Jay Watts, Glenda Lindley, Joe James, Darlene, See, Linda Churchill, Alison Bremner, Susan Nachtigal, Della Cheney, Justina Starzynski, Shgen George, Michelle Martin — James White is not pictured

School teachers received a crash course in learning how to draw Tlingit form line and the Native artists learned skills and strategies in teaching form line art in the schools.   Invited artists came from Angoon, Kake, Wrangell, Yakutat, Hoonah, Juneau and as far away as Seattle.  School teachers came from as far away as Anchorage.  This week-long, intense training course is one of the first of its kind.

One of several example kits (used in the Juneau Public Schools), reviews the learning the ovoid

During our introductions on the first day, we realized that none of us knew what we were getting into.  We were not clear of the intention of the course; we just filled out the one-page paperwork a month prior to the event questioning us if we had ever taught in the schools and where we learned our form line art, and figured okay, what the hey!    So it’s just like artists to fly on a wing and show up, not knowing what the heck we’re getting into — it’s another adventure!  And what an adventure this one was:  an experience of a lifetime.

Konrad James explains to the class the kit his group reviewed – Instructor Heather Ridgeway stands in the far right listening to our observations

Enthusiastic Heather Ridgeway formed us into groups of two or three to review classroom kits that have been used in the school system for several years.  These kits were examples that helped us learn how to design and implement our own kits that we would create to teach students form line art and refine their art each year so that by the time they reach high school, they are well-versed in thought and hand, how to create a successful Tlingit design.

Academy coordinators Shgen George and Shaadootlaa Hanlon provide guidelines on how the artists and the school teachers will begin to collaborate on the creation of new kits that will teach K-12 students the formline art of the Tlingit

There were so many things we artists learned during this week; and the great part about this seminar was that it was actually fun!  We had so much fun thinking, thinking, thinking for 8 hours, that by the end of each day at 5pm we were exhausted.  I, personally, can CREATE for 8 hours no problem, but to THINK for 8 hours non-stop, holy, that’s a lot of WORK! — no wonder why teachers cannot do anything else in their 9 months of work other than teach; their creative work is in teaching others how to learn!  By the end of this seminar, my appreciation level for teachers in the schools sky-rocketed.

Former-school-teacher-now-Teacher-Trainer Lynn Williams explains one of the strategies used to keep children’s attention and to complete their projects

Teacher Coach, Lynn Mitchell reviews each artist group who begin creation of a new kit

Pauline Johnson (artist) and Glenda Lindley (teacher) collaborate on kit designed to teach a Kindergartener how to identify ovoids in form line art

Juneau school teacher and artist, Shgen George teaches the school teachers a step-by-step process of the basic fundamentals of Tlingit form line art – several of us artists wanted to sit in on the class!

James White (teacher), Nicole Demmert (artist), and Jay Watts (teacher) hash out the details of how the kit instructions will be explained to the school teacher who will use this kit to teach her students form line art – while James does a test piece on his proposed kit using clay

Ask Della Cheney what she thought of the whole concept of Tlingit artists and public school teachers coming together to assist one another in teaching Tlingit form line art to K-12 students:   De-light-ful!

Click here to read the Juneau Empire article.  Thank you for your interest.

And thank you to Shgen George, Shaadootlaa Hanlon, Davina Cole, and Annie Calkins who helped organize this event.

Thank you to our teaching instructors:  Heather Ridgeway, Lynn Mitchell and Roblin Gray