Lisa Fulmer

Local teachers receive micro-grants for art projects

Local teachers receive micro-grants for art projects
Roman, a first grader at Wren Avenue Elementary, painted this mixed media collage inspired by the work of Italian artist Alberto Savinio.

Lisa FulmerWhen it comes to finding new ways to engage students with art, every dollar helps.

To that end, the Concord Art Association (CAA) recently awarded $1,100 to be shared between nine Mt. Diablo Unified School District teachers who presented great ideas for student art projects.

“Teachers often pay for extra supplies with their own money,” notes CAA president Catherine Hensiek. “We’ve awarded small grants each school year to support a wide variety of curriculum-related art projects.”

Darlene Wehrlie from Valle Verde Elementary will buy canvases and presentation boards for her students. “For our art show this year, we’re trying something new,” she says. “Students will research and present findings on their chosen artist and then create their own work in the same genre.”

“We’re studying equity and making a project using African textile patterns,” says Annemarie Baldauf from Riverview Middle School. “I’m buying how-to-draw books for students to use for this project and many more. With a physical art book to go with the online learning, kids will develop stronger drawing literacy.”

Crayon colors

First-grade teacher Eric Vandetta bought multi-cultural skin-tone crayons for drawing self-portraits at Wren Avenue Elementary. “We talk about culture, language and color regularly. Students choose crayons that reflect their own skin tone and use a mirror to learn how to draw their own face more realistically.”

Stephanie Driscoll, a new teacher at Wren, works online with first- and second-grade students with autism. “I want to send basic art supplies home with students so they can create as we would if we were together in the classroom,” she shares.

Carolyn Barney, an induction mentor who teaches art in fourth-grade classes at Wren, is working on her art supply list to use her funds this spring.

At Shadelands Special Education Center, Lisa McCarty and Teresa Huitron will purchase adapted tools like stencils and stamps so students with special needs can be more successful.

“These tools help students express their creativity regardless of their motor skills,” says McCarty. “When communicating in their own way through art, they experience more self-awareness, which helps build confidence and spark curiosity.”

Life skills

Elisa Roxas from Shadelands Pre-School Center is buying soil and pots for a project that combines the science of how plants thrive with the art of crafting a DIY gift. “Children learn valuable life skills, from how to keep a plant alive to the joy of giving.”

At Holbrook Language Academy, Hannah Utler uses art to teach her second graders about the science of water erosion. “I bought supplies for 55 students to sculpt a cornmeal mountain and create a drip system to make canyons. We’re grateful to CAA for investing funds into our community,” she says.

CAA has relied on annual art show participation fees to support its Teacher Grant Program, but the pandemic shut down the usual 2020-’21 shows.

“We need more new members, as well as public donations, to help keep this vital program alive,” Hensiek says. Visit to learn more about CAA and how to support the group.

Lisa Fulmer is a marketing consultant, published author and a community arts advocate.