School district, DIA partner for student tours

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published September 27, 2019

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WARREN/STERLING HEIGHTS/TROY — In an effort to expose young children to the world of art, Warren Consolidated Schools and the Detroit Institute of Arts have entered into a new partnership.

The school district and officials at the DIA have joined together in a new program that will allow every third grader in the district to experience a customized tour during a free field trip to the museum.

The DIA is home to more than 60,000 works from ancient times through the 21st century. The school tour, “Shaping Identity,” is designed to focus on literacy and social studies standards. Tours will be led by docents, or volunteer members of the DIA’s teaching staff. Each of the district’s elementary schools will visit the museum on a different day, starting in January.

School officials felt it was important for the students to visit the DIA for a number of reasons. According to WCS Superintendent Robert Livernois, many of the district’s students have never visited an art museum. During their tour, students will visit exhibits that highlight pieces from different groups of indigenous people, Livernois said.

“Art offers a different medium in which to learn beyond traditional classroom resources. The DIA is a wealth of valuable art and information, which will allow our students to experience and learn in an authentic matter,” Livernois said. “Visiting the DIA will teach our students how to think visually, which is an important life skill and a skill they will need in their future education and careers. Through visiting exhibits focused around indigenous peoples, students will gain an understanding of other cultures, including their own.”

During each field trip, the DIA will provide writing support and interactive activity sheets to help the students make connections between art and their own lives, and gain a greater understanding of the art’s time period and culture. At the end of their visit, students will write short stories about an object they discovered at the museum.

“Our hope is for the students to gain an understanding of and appreciation for all cultures and to make connections to their own personal identities,” Livernois said. “The docents will encourage the students to see how one object can reflect and influence a person’s identity and a group’s identity.”

According to Jason Gillespie, the DIA’s director of education programs, the partnership is new for the 2019-20 school year. It was made possible by the tri-county millages of 2012, which allow the DIA to provide free bus transportation and admission for students from Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.

For more information on the DIA, visit dia.org.

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