Colebrook Elementary School's 2014/15 Grade 5 class with framed collaborative community art piece.

News, Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight: Karissa Moon paints a bright picture of community and leadership

July 06, 2015

When Grade 5 teacher Karissa Moon returned to her classroom after her maternity leave she found that she was facing many disruptions in the classroom. “It was hard to teach because I was always dealing with social problems,” noted Karissa. “So I decided that for my final field study I would try to build community amongst my class through using art.”

Karissa Moon

Enrolled in the Faculty of Education’s Exploring Arts Education Graduate Diploma Program in the Surrey School District, Karissa had the opportunity to use the Field Studies portion of the program as a testing ground for educational research and practice. “To help build community in my classroom, I chose to use collaborative art projects. My students created numerous art pieces together (paintings, Van Gogh’s Starry Night and a Van Gogh Bouquet) then initiated a grade 4/5 mural and a school wide popsicle stick community art piece,” recalls Karissa.

The students learned to collaborate and work together in creating each piece of art.  Karissa discovered that the experience brought the students together and helped build self-esteem, cooperation, leadership, stronger communication, problem solving skills and ultimately, community in the classroom. The impact this project had on the students did not go unnoticed. “Students shared messages about building self confidence and self esteem, helping to improve relationships and develop problem solving abilities which impacted both the classroom and the playground, increasing skill development in social skills and collaboration, as well as generally bringing the group closer together as a community of learners,” shared Colleen White, school principal.

And it wasn’t only the students that learned something new. “This field study program opened my eyes to the power of collaborating with colleagues and the world of fine arts,” claims Karissa. “I never thought of myself as an artistic person, but being exposed to various aspects of fine arts allowed me to explore this new world and challenge myself to experience new ways of integrating and teaching elementary fine arts. Being able to practice life long learning and explore what interests me in my field studies has been at the root of my professional growth over the last two years.” Karissa's experience with this program has left her open to applying the GDE credits she's earned in this program toward a Master of Education in Educational Practice in the future.

Colleen White observed Karissa’s personal and professional growth during the program. “Karissa modeled life long learning for our students. They are able to see her as a classroom teacher, a mom of a toddler and a learner committed to further developing her skills and talents through university course work that directly applies to her teaching,” said Colleen.

Just prior to the end of the school year, Karissa’s class hosted a school-wide assembly to showcase their work and present a beautifully framed community art piece to the school. “It was a beautiful assembly where each of my students got the opportunity to shine! I am so proud of my students,” gushed Karissa. “They are leaders and rose to the occasion in leading our school into community with one another.”

The art created by the class will be displayed throughout Colebrook Elementary School, with the school community artwork framed and hung in a prominent place of honor.

The Faculty of Education has Graduate Diploma programs with various themes beginning in different school districts each term.