From Fulbright to Changemaker

Through a Fulbright Scholarship, Kate Fitzpatrick, Congressional's Middle School Art Teacher has become a changemaker, leveraging her passion for project-based learning in art and STEM to help underserved students around the world.
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Two years ago, Kate Fitzpatrick was awarded a scholarship by the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program. The scholarship took her to Chennai, India, where she spent 4 months researching the challenges of bringing art education to marginalized youth throughout the state of Tamil Nadu.

While in India, Kate attended a conference with other Fulbright Scholars and met a fellow educator, Deepa Srikantiah, with whom she quickly connected on a shared interest in STEM and art education.  After returning to the United States, they met up to discuss their research and decided to join forces on a project. This collaboration resulted in the launch of ArtLight Global, a non-profit focused on providing project-based learning opportunities involving STEM and art, offering workshops for teachers and students with a mission to improve learning and motivation in underprivileged students.

In the last year, ArtLight Global has built a strong connection with a school in Bangalore, southern India, and was invited to conduct a week-long workshop for the Parikrma School Foundation, a non profit 'offering high-quality education, hope, and support to thousands of children from four orphanages and over 71 slums in the city.'  In early January 2018, Kate flew to India to present a workshop on the connection between art and math to students at Parikrma School. She describes the experience.

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"The students at Parikrma School were excited to have us there. This school serves the poorest population of children in the area.  They receive meals, clean water, and a fantastic education. Everything is paid for through grade 10.  Most of the students do go on to other training programs and university.

Thirty-five 8th grade students attended the workshop to learn how art and math connect. In addition to creating these academic connections, students also explored their own identity through reflective exercises that allowed them to think of their personal identity (what they think and know about themselves) and their social identity (how they think others view them). All of these activities, practices and exercises culminated in an open air art exhibition at their school where students, teachers, and local community members came together to view the results of the week.

Spectators were able to see the variety of media and materials that were used throughout the workshop.  Students were able to capture a lot of what they learned through direct application and collection.  Clear understandings were made by connecting and practicing math skills in multiple activities (ratios, scale, estimation, and data collection).  Students also explored identity through various forms of visual communication (symbology of me, found poetry, five-second stories).

The workshop also provided a chance for students to give back to their own community.  Students sold their final self-portrait pieces and donated the proceeds back to their school. This gave the students a chance to understand that they are change makers, and their actions can have a positive impact on the school."

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Kate Fitzpatrick

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