“There Are No Mistakes in Art,” is a message that sprawls across the whiteboard in Ms. Shaquanda Day’s art classroom at The Learning Center. More than a mantra, it’s a philosophy that celebrates the individuality, resolve, and potential of students. It’s also a driving principle behind the Designing & Marketing a Project grant that Ms. Day applied for and won this school year through the School & Classroom Investment Grant program. The grant program enables KIPP DC staff at to invest in initiatives beyond the scope of existing school budgets.
“I came up with the idea because I want students to be creative, I want them to feel free, and I want them to be comfortable with who they are,” said Ms. Day “It also helps because it connects what they’re doing in class to the real world, and students best succeed when you can draw those connections.”
Within the Designing & Marketing a Project initiative, students create their own clothing items such as shirts, hats, and sneakers. They also learn the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, such as understanding finances, pitching a project, and collaborative thinking. Recently, students also had the opportunity to hear from guest speakers Marlon Clark and Eric King who were able to share their personal experiences within the fashion industry, offer advice to students, and answer questions.
Mr. King is a senior graphic designer who has worked for companies such as BODYARMOR and Disney throughout his career and was among the guest speakers who shared their professional experiences with students. “I love being able to come and speak to students about art or creativity, but particularly this group because there aren’t nearly enough black creatives in the industry,” he said. “But also, exposing them to the many avenues in art beyond drawing, whether that’s photography, videography, or even engineering.”
Outside of the Designing & Marketing a Project initiative, Ms. Day approaches teaching art in her classroom with an eye toward drawing connections to other aspects of student’s experiences. “I try to infuse science into my art lessons; I try to infuse math into my lessons. I’ll ask them questions during observations to try and connect the dots to other subjects. And once they’ve experienced success here, they’re excited to go to science or math class and incorporate what they’ve learned.”