Starting this Fall, Areté Education begun a Social Emotional Learning and Leadership Club pilot program in the mornings before school where middle school students learn emotional literacy, self-regulation, and stress management through dynamic mindfulness practices and reflection opportunities, peer and adult mentoring, and strengths-based leadership coaching and development.
This week, the Club launched its first UnMASK Arts Project. The idea of this project was sparked by the book Be the Hero You’ve Been Waiting For, “Many of us live our lives as if we are icebergs, floating aimlessly in the sea of life and largely submerged. We hide most of ourselves, especially our most vulnerable places, below ‘the waterline’. Like a typical iceberg, we show only about 10% of ourselves, the part above the water. For the purpose of this discussion, let’s call this 10% our ‘image'” (p.53-54).
In this project, students will release their arts creativity and design a mask to present “what they show to the outside world” versus “what they keep hidden inside”. They will use the mask to unmask their emotions and demonstrate that emotions are an integrated part of human beings. Whether we like it or not, emotions exist in our body. Instead of ignoring them, we can learn to be aware of them, listen to the messages they bring to us and make wise decisions based upon the messages. Students will present the complexity and rich perspectives of humanities through their art work.
Dr. Sarah Benis Scheier-Dolberg, the new executive director at Areté Education who also has experience in teaching arts, led students through the first day of the project. The first week of this project is about choosing a base color for the mask.
Most importantly, the color students choose should represent some part of their identities and characters. For example, “I chose warm colors because of the warmth and energy I usually bring into spaces” Dr. Sarah Benis Scheier-Dolberg showed her mask as an example and explained why she chose the warm colors. She also talked about how she chose red to represent her “anger”, how emotions and that emotion is part of us.
Students will start to add layers and put on decorations to their masks next week. They will also divide their masks in half – one half for what they show the outside world, one half for what they keep hidden inside.
(Ms. Waring, the instructor of the Club, helps dry students’ masks.)