Arts mentoring helps students soar

An arts program is providing one-to-one mentoring support to Year Five and Six students who show talent in the arts.

The kids from Noble Park, Dandenong West, Wallarano, Lalor East and Thomastown Primary Schools would not normally have access to extra tuition outside school. But thanks to their schools' partnership with Future Foundations, a not-for-profit organisation helping young people from disadvantaged communities, the students are able to pursue their interest in art.

Students attend a four-hour workshop at their school every Saturday for 15 weeks, working closely with volunteer creative mentors on personal projects which are then displayed at a public exhibition.

Mentors are professional artists or university students who give their time and skills to helping students, and matched based on the students' interest.

Students kick off the program with a field trip to Melbourne's great art public spaces including National Gallery of Victoria and Hosier Lane to get inspiration. The following sessions looked at techniques from cartooning and sculpture to painting, with students choosing a project in the medium they like best.

One of the students who took part this year says, 'When I thought about giving up, I remembered my project.'

Another student says, 'I just like to draw.'

'I am interested in art because whenever I draw I can be creative and imaginative as well as forgetting and losing the frustrations.'

The Future Foundations Creative Workshops began at Noble Park Primary School five years ago. Principal David Rothstadt says, 'The kids got an enormous amount out of the workshops.'

'Teachers have commented on how students' attention has improved in class. They are not only improving their arts skills but their confidence too.'

David recalls a student who was interested in photography, and matched with a photographer as a mentor. The student now produces his school magazine, snapping, editing and selecting the photos.

'He is showing interest in taking up photography as a vocation when he leaves school, and we're really proud to have contributed to that.'

In 2017, this program helped 22 students across the five schools, thanks to a $23,000 grant from the Victorian Government's Student Mentoring Program which aims to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds stay in education and reach their full potential in life.

Future Foundation is recruiting for Creative Arts mentors - find out how to become a mentor.

Celebrating the arts

This year, Education Week is all about celebrating the arts and is an opportunity for all primary and secondary schools, and early childhood services to showcase the work they are doing for students in arts subjects including dance, drama, music, visual arts and media arts.  

Schools can join the Education Week celebrations by participating in an arts activity in the week of 20-26 May.