Stories come alive when artifacts disclose their secrets. Museum School opens the door to Glenbow’s world-class exhibits where students will see the brushstrokes in a painting and feel the stitching in a moccasin. Glenbow experiences are designed to inspire curiosity and engage all learners, through in-depth artifact study, engagement with concepts and ideas, and experiences working with professionals in the museum field.
“The opportunity to work in Glenbow gave me the ability to get to know my students and see their strengths and needs, inside and outside the classroom. I was able to better program and plan for all of my students.” 2017 Teacher
The Chevron Open Minds Glenbow Museum School is an immersive education program for students in grades one through twelve. Teachers across Calgary apply for the opportunity to attend by outlining their educational philosophy, their in-class goals, and their willingness to learn new techniques for experiential education. In collaboration with Calgary’s local school boards (Calgary Board of Education & Calgary Catholic School District) coordinators plan and execute week long experiences that are tailored to each teacher’s specific learning plan for their class. Teachers are guided through a professional development program that involves workshops in the museum as well as in the classroom directly with students. During their week in the museum Teachers and Museum School Coordinators work together to draw students towards deep looking, hands on learning, and creative thought. After the week at the museum has ended teachers and students return to their classrooms with new tools for working together, and for engaging the curriculum.
“Students saw themselves differently as learners after their week. Some saw themselves as artists and writers. One student commented, ‘this has been my best week at school.” 2017 Teacher
Build on the research and practice of Gillian Kydd, the Open Minds model is guided by a board of community representatives, including teachers, academics, funders, and parents. After the initial success of Open Minds sites like Glenbow, programs and sites like it have developed across the city, and in other school districts around the globe.
“My son dislikes writing and I saw him ask for extra paper to sketch and label the exhibits that interested him…. I saw him being able to choose where and what he explored impacted his retention.” 2017 Parent Volunteer
Students, parent volunteers, and teachers alike recognize the power of the program and the impact is has on learning. Each year participants are asked to review the program, and staff undergo professional development and evaluation procedures to ensure that they are following best practices in Museum based education.
“This was the best day of my life.” – 2017 Student
The Museum School was pioneered by Michele Gallant, who has since retired. Upon graduation from the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, Gallant made the journey west to continue studio-based studies at the Alberta College of Art and Design. In the mid 1980’s museum education became her passion first taking root at the Muttart Art Gallery and, for the past 20 years, at the Glenbow Museum. Inspired by Gillian Kydd, founder of the Open Minds School Program and fuelled by courses in brain-based learning, the Early Childhood Learning Centers of Reggio Emilia, Harvard’s Project Zero, and the Lincoln Center Institute, she continues her work with teachers, children and youth.
Marnie McCormack came to Calgary to teach after graduating with a Bachelor of Education from the University of Victoria, specializing in art education. After becoming involved in art gallery education she returned to university to complete a degree in Art History and has been involved in gallery and museum education in the Calgary area for the past 25 years. Conferences withHarvard Education’s Project Zero and the International Educator’s Workshop at the Lincoln Center Institute in NewYork have brought new ideas to Marnie’s practice and supported her belief that using real art and hands on objects is the best pathway to imaginative learning. Marnie’s teaching goal is to create an environment that encourages exploration and experimentation. Marnie retired in 2020, but her impact on Museum School and its participants will be felt for years to come.
Amanda Foote has worked in community-based settings across North America, and is particularly interested in the use of heritage in community development. She utilizes diverse media, such as film, art, and music, in much of her work, and is passionate about the responsibility we all have to youth and our communities. Amanda believes in experiential learning, and has earned degrees in Museum and Heritage Studies from NYU and University of Alaska Fairbanks. She is a member of Canada’s biggest all female urban arts collective, the Big Kitty Crew, and sits on the board of the Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society.
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