The Education Fund Supports Art In Miami Public School’s Through Charity Auction!
The education system in the U.S. is an aspect of society that impacts everyone, whether they attend public school or not. Regardless of this massive influence, for some reason, education, and especially that involving the arts, takes a back seat in budget discussions. Luckily, in Miami, FL, one non-profit organization, The Education Fund, has taken up the task of providing resources for schools, teachers, students and parents to support the quality of education in public schools in Miami-Dade County. Last week, La Roja and I had the opportunity to attend The Education Fund’s “Art of Found Objects” Charity Auction. Before the event, I also had the chance to hear from individuals who benefit from the efforts of this non-profit.
The Education Fund is a 26-year old non-profit organization that works with the private sector to ensure that student’s have the resources necessary to reach their full potential as individual’s in school and later in the work force. One way this is achieved is through the Ocean Bank Center for Educational Materials which essentially provides free supplies for teachers and their classrooms through donations from businesses. Since 1993, 15,000+ teachers have “shopped” free of charge! One such art teacher, Alejandra Parra-Pardo, specializing in Culturally Inspired Education at South Miami K-8 Center Expressive Arts Magnet, described how access to these resources shape her curriculum.
“I visit the Education Fund’s Ocean Bank Warehouse at least once a year to gather “goods” for upcoming lessons/projects. Sometimes I have something specific in mind, but more often than not the materials at the warehouse inspire me to create new assignments for my students…It is a wonderful opportunity for teachers and students…There’s a wide variety of items, various visuals, tools, objects, textures, and surfaces the students can manipulate… the opportunities to create art are endless.” – Alejandra Parra-Pardo
Having grown up in a family full of teachers and then studying the arts in college, I have a passion for art in education. Entonces, I was muy emocianada to hear about the work of The Education Fund! Besides hearing from Parra-Pardo, I also gained insight on the influence of this organization from one of her students, Albert Parson and his mother, Nancy Ruiz. Nancy had nothing but positive things to say about how access to art education greatly impacts her son’s life.
“Art has influenced my son Albert from an early age. As he grew he was taught from wonderful art teachers that have influenced him to see things in different perspectives, light and colors. It motivates my son to learn to be creative. I couldn’t imagine his life without it. I’m grateful for all the Art programs offered through the public schools. It opens a whole new world of creativity.”-Nancy Ruiz
Albert is a 13 year old student and his submission was an impromptu photo of his sister. He shared with me the positive role of art in his education and his life.
To me, art means being able to express myself. It is an outlet where I can do whatever I want and display how I feel…My favorite thing about getting to make art is when it is complete. I enjoy the feeling I get when I see it complete, I get a sense of accomplishment. -Albert Parson
Beyond being an integral part of education as a whole, the culturally inspired educational curriculum Parra-Pardo engages in allows Hispanic students to specifically connect with and experience their own and other Hispanic cultures.
“… my class, Culturally Inspired Education (CIE) aims to enable students to explore, understand, and value visual art expressions from cultures around the world. Living in this beautiful city, so many diverse Hispanic cultures influence us daily. Inviting guest artists, taking field trips, and exposing students to our local art scene encourages my students to connect and embrace their own cultural heritage” -Alejandra Parra-Pardo
It is clear that art is playing an important part in the education of Albert and his peers! Kudos to The Education Fund for all their efforts, and to teachers like Parra-Pardo who strive to find new and interesting ways to engage their students!
The silent auction was held on Thursday, May 24th at the historic Moore Building in Miami’s art and design district. There was live music, delicious food and drinks from Whole Foods and Bacardi, and three floors of amazing student and teacher art work to peruse! There were over 150 art pieces created by the students and teachers representing nearly 50 school in Miami-Dade County, and you can check out photos of a few of the student art pieces below! To find out more about The Education Fund visit their official page.