During one of my multiple-weeklong school assembly tours, I stopped at many schools in Fremont thanks to our friends at the Fremont Cultural Arts Council. Here’s what teachers at Niles Elementary thought:

Kathy Jackson – You were at Niles School on Thursday 5/22. I took my class to the 8:45 assembly and my first graders loved it! They were all very successful and excited about their drawings. I also drew the best fish I have ever drawn!!!! The most important thing about the experience for me was this: That morning I got a new student in my class who speaks no English, she was overwhelmed as we rushed to get to the assembly on time. I had no way to explain to her what was happening. I could not have picked a better experience for her first hour in an American school. She was completely able to draw along with the rest of the class. I could tell that she was proud of her drawings and this helped her to connect with us.

Joan Keyser – Just a quick note to say thank you for the wonderful assembly last week. The kids enjoyed it, the teachers loved it, and we were definitely a happy bunch at the end of the 45 minute assembly. The children were so engaged, and you kept them completely interested in what they were doing. I’m a big one on positive feedback, and they certainly felt good about themselves after drawing three “sea creatures.”

Paige Johnson – I loved the school assembly. I especially enjoyed that I got to draw too. I just recently learned that drawing is not natural, or just a talent–it’s a learned skill!

I thought how you had the children write in the air, use visualization and large hand movements before they drew was extremely important. It helped engage their brains before they just started marking their papers. The 3-D visualizations you have them do for things like the eyeballs was helpful too.

All of my 2nd/3rd grade students came back to the classroom excited to continue with coloring their drawings. I have one child that this assembly was particularly meaningful for. She is a gifted student, extremely bright, but drawing is very difficult for her, to the point where she will sometimes refuse to do a drawing/illustration assignment. I watched with much happiness as she successfully completed all three of the drawings you led students through.

It was the clear, step-by-step instructions that made her work possible. You gave her the confidence to try. I’m sure this was the first time she’d ever drawn anything that she was proud of.

Thank you for the work you do. I personally relate to this dear student of mine as I never drew anything but stick figures until two years ago–when terrified but brave I took a drawing workshop. Drawing engages the brain and the heart, and in the life of a child art is just as important as any other subject.

Linda Pearson – Thank you so much for your marvelous draw along assembly. It was certainly a one of a kind experience with your fine audience management and drawing expertise.You used your time with percision and awareness. All of us thoroughly enjoyed your presentation and chance to create something new. You were like the Pied Piper, with the children following your every step. They’re still making more samples and sharing your teaching with their friends. The students were super excited to have had the time to draw.

Teachers also thank you for your various preparation and reminder notes. They were very helpful in keeping us focused and on-time. Best Wishes with your future adventures, where ever they take you.

Lisa Schinkel – Outstanding assembly! So often upper grade students sit through assemblies fidgety and a little bit bored because the content is not interesting enough for them. Your assembly had none of this from them, they were engaged and focused throughout the entire time!

My class loved it! Every student came away with three drawings that they were proud of, even those who do not like to do art. It was well worth giving up an hour of class time for my students to get to be creative, and the enthusiasm they showed for the activity made it that much better.

On the way out you stopped and looked at the drawings of my students, and commented on them which for them just made the assembly even better! I saw many of their faces light up when you said something positive about their drawings. I hope that we have you again as I found this to be one of the better assemblies we have had this year!

Kari Weber – I thought today’s assembly was awesome. I had to come in a few minutes late due to my prep, and was bummed to have missed the first few minutes, the children already seemed SO engaged, and many of the teachers were even drawing along as well! I have several special needs children in my class, but one who is autistic, and usually easily frustrated with his artwork. It was nice to see him following along, erasing from time to time, but keeping up. The steps were so simple to follow, and fluid, that even if he erased and redid a step, he was easily able to look up at the overhead, and immediately be on track again. I believe you did an excellent job of keeping the audience attuned to your words by constantly having them repeat words and phrases– some silly, some technical terms.

I have never been in an assembly before that has included the ENTIRE audience participating at once. Usually only a few selected students get to volunteer for one or two activities, and it always seems to be the younger kids since they sit closer to the person choosing. This way, every child came with their own materials (nothing special, or expensive they wouldn’t have at home) and walked away with 3 of their own pieces of art.

Well done, I hope to see you at Niles again someday!

Lakshmi Narayanan – I would say that the step by step approach is what makes it easier. The kids loved the camaraderie you had with them. The finished product looked like the one you had on display made them realize that they could also draw like the pros.