California Educator

October / November 2018

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Another joint effort is with the Brown Paper Bag Project, a nonprofit that pro- vides sack lunches to the homeless in Los Angeles. Students decorated the paper bags with motivational messages and cus- tom artwork. One bag states, "Sometimes you have to fall before you fly." Another bag reminds the recipient, "Every day is a blessing." e hope is that homeless indi- viduals will find inspiration in knowing that students care about them. S o m e a r tw o rk o n t h e b a g s w a s s o o u t s t a n d i n g t h a t S t a n t o n p l a n s o n using some of his award money to pur- ch a se a scre en m a chin e to print th e images on T-shirts. Stanton is one of 25 teachers in the Los Angeles area to have a partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art, e Broad, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. is allows his students to go on field trips to the museums and continue classroom curriculum in a set- ting where they can discuss, critique and interpret art on display. He also spear- headed the circle painting project on campus. This team-building event with faculty, students and the community was a collaborative experience while produc- ing artwork that brightens the school and reflects its core values. Stanton has invited local and interna- tional artists to visit students, including a clothing designer discussing branding, a woodworking artisan sharing wood shop activities, and a lesson on wood- carving by a Jamaican artist via Skype. "I love this class," says eighth-grader Xitali Inguez. "Through art, people can show others who they are in a nice way. With so much testing, it's a relief to have art class. It's a great way to relieve stress Opposite page: Teacher Ben Stanton with student Brenda Guizar. Above, Xitlali Iniguez paints her skateboard; student-painted skateboards on exhibit; students' inspirational designs on paper bags used for sack lunches for the homeless. and something I look forward to." Classmate Adrian Sanchez recalls that in the beginning, he thought he couldn't create art, but now sees otherwise. "Mr. St anton motivat e s us to ke e p goin g and ref in e our w ork," S an ch ez says. "He also gives us an opportunity to make money." S t a n t o n t a u g h t f o u r t h g r a d e f o r nin e years b efore th e opp or tunity to t e a c h a r t t o m i d d l e s c h o o l stu d e n t s became available. "Art is my passion," he says. "I love how students can enrich their lives through being involved in the creative process, and how when that happens they become more confident in themselves. Every sin- gle day I am grateful." Stanton's c ommitm ent to creating a nurturing environment where self-ex- p r e s s i o n i s e n c o u r a g e d h a s h e l p e d students cope with personal struggles. One student confided that art class saved his life by helping him develop confidence and a sense of purpose. e students have had an equally posi- tive impact on his life, says Stanton. "Winning the award happened during the most dif ficult time of my life. My brother, who was my best friend , had tragically passed away, and I had to take a leave because I was in a car accident at the same time. I had to get well physically and emotionally. "e kids were there for me. ey wrote me letters and helped with the nomina- tion . We are truly family. When I was nominated, I told them I would accept the award on their behalf." Stanton begins each class by form- ing a circle with students, who together recite hip hop's four principles: Peace, Love, Unity, and Having Fun. Then the y o u n g a r t i st s g e t t o w o rk , f o c u si n g intently on their projects, because art may be fun but it's also serious business. "For me, the most rewarding part of the job is when one of my students realizes he or she has an undiscovered gift," Stan- ton muses. " When that happens, I feel just like a kid at Disneyland. It's the most awesome thing there is." 15 O C T O B E R / N O V E M B E R 2 018

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