Hillside Elementary Receives Grant From Crayola

By Jason Cohen

Hillside Elementary School plans to improve its education through art as it recently was named a recipient of a $3,500 grant from Crayola.

Hillside is one of 20 elementary and middle schools from across the nation that was selected by Crayola and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) to receive a “Champion Creatively Alive Children” school grant. The grant will fund innovative programs aimed at building creative capacity school-wide. 

The goal of the grant is to help schools nurture children’s creativity and inspire other schools to do the same. Hillside will receive a $2,500 monetary grant and $1,000 worth of Crayola products. Principal Carlos Gramata will share outcomes from the school’s initiative via NAESP’s website and a special principal magazine supplement to help other principals develop promising practices related to arts in education. 

Media Specialist at Hillside Colleen Donnelly wrote the grant last year. Donnelly explained that with this grant the school plans to use art to implement a theory called growth mindset. Growth mindset was established by professor Carol Dweck 30 years ago and it is the belief that students’ attitude can prevent them or allow them to learn a specific subject.

“We decided that it would be a good fusion of what we are trying to do this year,” Donnelly said. “What if we could use art to challenge our students’ abilities in art and other areas.”

For example, if a student is bad at math, they may think they simply aren’t good at it. However, with growth mindset, Donnelly and her staff feel they can show the children there are other ways they can be good at a subject. The hope is to use art and combine it with STEAM (Science Technology Engineering and Math).

According to Donnelly, the school will purchase growth mindset books for every teacher and they will be used for art projects.

The projects will take place once a month in the caring community meetings, where teachers meet with about 15 students from grades kindergarten through five for an hour. The next one is later this month, where growth mindset will be introduced.

She noted that normally older kids would help the younger ones, but because older kids can be more stuck in their ways, she feels that with growth mindset and art the roles will be reversed.

“It will be interesting to see the kindergarteners encourage and sort of support the older kids through the mindset walls,” Donnelly said. “They believe strong in their abilities to do art.”

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