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Ms. Holden’s Classroom Edit display name

  • Howard M Phifer Middle School
  • Pennsauken, NJ
  • More than half of students from low‑income households

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Due to recent shifts in the district's high school curriculum, my students' entire middle school experience includes one two month Visual Arts course. If they get into the Art Club (for which there is a hundred person wait-list each semester) they are considered lucky to have 16 extra days in the art room. They are deprived of basic creative outlets at this most confusing, exhilarating, exploratory, emotive, curious age. In the short time I have with them, the benefits of using a medium that kindles growth and exploration more than any other is a no-brainer. I have witnessed firsthand how invaluable the experience of working with clay is for sensory development, motor skills, self-esteem, self expression, problem solving skills, discipline, and pride. Clay also has a uniquely therapeutic quality that I have seen settle and calm children; it retains their attention for hours. This is, in fact, a proven result of working with clay: "It was found that clay-based group art therapy produced positive effects on the ego-resilience of low SES [social economic status] adolescents. These findings are attributed to the participants’ successful experience of seeing clay becoming complete pottery through kiln firing and feeling the suppleness and plasticity of clay. The significance of this study lies in the finding that clay-based group art therapy produces positive effects on the adolescents’ ego-resilience, a personal trait that helps with mental and emotional adaptation in a changing and conflicting environment." "CAT [Clay Art Therapy] can aid emotion regulation and benefit various aspects of mental health in adults. The short duration of the intervention suggests additional application value in treating depression." Clay speaks to, and through, students like no other art material I've found. This kiln is a single item that will last for decades, impacting tens of thousands of students to come.

About my class

Due to recent shifts in the district's high school curriculum, my students' entire middle school experience includes one two month Visual Arts course. If they get into the Art Club (for which there is a hundred person wait-list each semester) they are considered lucky to have 16 extra days in the art room. They are deprived of basic creative outlets at this most confusing, exhilarating, exploratory, emotive, curious age. In the short time I have with them, the benefits of using a medium that kindles growth and exploration more than any other is a no-brainer. I have witnessed firsthand how invaluable the experience of working with clay is for sensory development, motor skills, self-esteem, self expression, problem solving skills, discipline, and pride. Clay also has a uniquely therapeutic quality that I have seen settle and calm children; it retains their attention for hours. This is, in fact, a proven result of working with clay: "It was found that clay-based group art therapy produced positive effects on the ego-resilience of low SES [social economic status] adolescents. These findings are attributed to the participants’ successful experience of seeing clay becoming complete pottery through kiln firing and feeling the suppleness and plasticity of clay. The significance of this study lies in the finding that clay-based group art therapy produces positive effects on the adolescents’ ego-resilience, a personal trait that helps with mental and emotional adaptation in a changing and conflicting environment." "CAT [Clay Art Therapy] can aid emotion regulation and benefit various aspects of mental health in adults. The short duration of the intervention suggests additional application value in treating depression." Clay speaks to, and through, students like no other art material I've found. This kiln is a single item that will last for decades, impacting tens of thousands of students to come.

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About my class

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