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Painting on the walls encouraged here

Mural project hones art, design thinking

All photos courtesy Amy Tefft

Northview — When a renovated East Oakview Elementary welcomed students in fall 2022, art teacher Amy Tefft was excited to see what amounted to a blank canvas.

“Everything was gray: the walls, the tables, the floors,” she said. “We needed to add some color.”

About two dozen fourth-graders answered Tefft’s call for lunchtime artists, and worked all year to create seven masterpieces they designed and painted using techniques they had learned in class.

From left, Avary Powers, Emily Doss, Lauren Novak and Elena Stelter add some tropical vibes to a classroom sink area

Soft skills practiced included teamwork and design thinking. And, oh, to watch for drips. “I got a little paint on my fingers, but not on anybody’s head,” said Lauren Novak.

Tefft said more murals are planned for next school year.

“I wanted to give (fourth-graders) the experience of making art for other people,” she said. “They thought about what they had to work with, who they were making the art for and why, and how to make and adjust to changes; that revision process that is a lot like they do with writing.”

Fourth-grade lunchtime artists with their first completed masterpiece: a color wheel mural in Amy Tefft’s art room

Read more from Northview:
Elementary buildings welcome author with art
Intro to printmaking a hit with fourth-graders

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio


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