African Art Connection

Menomonie students, teachers make art with children in Botswana

by UW-Stout News

LONG-DISTANCE CONNECTION. Menomonie children connect with children in Botswana via Skype during a PAINT International art session at the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts. At right is Megan Steinkraus, PAINT coordinator, Menomonie elementary art teacher and UW-Stout alumna.
LONG-DISTANCE CONNECTION. Menomonie children connect with children in Botswana via Skype during a PAINT International art session at the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts. At right is Megan Steinkraus, PAINT coordinator, Menomonie elementary art teacher and UW-Stout alumna.

Arts Integration Menomonie is going outside of Menomonie – actually outside of the country – to bring new art experiences to children in the Menomonie school district.

This fall, AIM is hosting PAINT International on Saturdays at the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts. PAINT stands for Program for Arts Integration for New Teachers.

“Children in both areas of the world learn to make the same art projects while making friends with one another. This is an amazing project.” – Tami Weiss, executive director, Arts Integration Menomonie

Each Saturday morning, local children from kindergarten through fifth grade create art under the direction of two UW-Stout art education students, Molly Brion, of Cameron, and Gabrielle Conway, of Rochester, Minnesota. UW-Stout alumni mentor the UW-Stout students.

During the sessions, the children connect via Skype with children in Letlhakeng, Botswana, Africa, who are working on the same art projects. The children renew friendships each week and compare their art.

Botswana is a nation of about 2 million people in southern Africa.

“Children in both areas of the world learn to make the same art projects while making friends with one another,” said Tami Weiss, executive director for AIM and program director for art education at UW-Stout. “This is an amazing project.”

Images: UW-Stout
Images: UW-Stout

The children in Botswana connect with those in Menomonie via the Peace Corps in Botswana. The Peace Corps worker, Kirstin Benish, was a student of Weiss’ when Weiss taught at La Crescent High School in La Crescent, Minnesota.

The free PAINT International program began in September and continues through Saturday, Dec. 10. The classes are full with 25 students.

“It’s a very big step for the PAINT program and a really exciting opportunity for our UW-Stout students as well as our children in the area,” said Megan Steinkraus, PAINT coordinator, a UW-Stout alumna, and Menomonie elementary school art teacher.

AIM is a grant-funded program involving UW-Stout’s School of Education, the Menomonie school district and the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts.

The PAINT program within AIM provides UW-Stout students in art education and early childhood education supervised teaching experience while earning a stipend.

For more information on AIM, go to artsintegrationmenomonie.org.

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