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Collaboration Between Coconut Grove Arts Festival, Schools Shows Results

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It’s just around the corner. The Coconut Grove Arts Festival starts in 10 days, but it’s already making an impact in local schools.

In a collaborative arrangement with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, 50 artists from the festival have each been assigned to mentor kids and lead workshops at different schools.

Jacqueline Roch is a visual artist who once designed the Festival’s poster. She’s volunteering her time at Maritime and Science Technology Academy on Virginia Key, a school which, as its name implies, heavily emphasizes STEM subjects.

“I just think it’s one of the best things about the Festival,” Roch said about the partnership with the school district, explaining that students meet artists from various disciplines. “They’re being exposed to artists that come from all over the country, some of them travel internationally, they also get to see artists in different mediums, not every school has a ceramics program or glass blowing or jewelry making.”

At MAST Academy, a 6-12 school, Roch is helping the teacher and his students design and paint a massive marine mural. The project is a creative outlet for academically-oriented students.

“Most of these kids are, you know, math, mathematicians, computers and robotics, and yet there’s a lot of kids that raised their hand that they’re interested in the arts,” Roch said.

Mariana Rodriguez has a sneak peek of this year's Coconut Grove Arts Festival poster.

“Art education should help us create better human beings, well-rounded human beings, individuals who are creative, who are curious,” said Eddie Lacayo, the school’s art teacher.

Lacayo told me he’s already seeing an impact among his students from working with Roch.

“It opens up the possibilities and some of them tell me, I wasn’t thinking about going into the arts but now I might consider it,” Lacayo explained.

The experience is not a one-way street. The artists also enjoy it.

“I think it brings us back to what it was like to be a student, I know for me that’s what it feels like,” Roch said.

The actual students told us working with a visiting artist is expanding their horizons.

“I think it’s pretty cool that I was given this opportunity that not many people have,” said senior Arturo Rodriguez, who is taking his first art class this year.

“It’s fun because we get to not only work all together but we get to incorporate our own ideas,” said junior Krysthel Cisneros.  

Maybe these STEM-intensive kids are learning there are different ways to climb the ladder of success.

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