Every summer, Judy Wolfe gets a break from her duties as principal of Rio Hondo Elementary School in Downey. This summer, she'll be at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, studying art and learning how to pass the knowledge on to students and colleagues.
Wolfe is among four teachers and two principals from the Compton and Downey unified school districts who will participate in a three-week program, sponsored by the J. Paul Getty Trust, designed to teach teachers how to revive art education in elementary schools.
"I knew that (art education) was a gap in my learning as an educator," Wolfe said, adding she doesn't mind giving up a little of her summer vacation to develop an appreciation for art.
Compton and Downey are among the most recent additions to the program, which was born in the summer of 1983 to promote art education and appreciation.
'Really Don't Understand'
"I think one of the reasons people go to a museum and look at a painting for only a few seconds is they really don't understand how to look for its meaning," said Lani Duke, director of the Getty Center for Education in the Arts.
The Getty Trust pays for the entire program. Under the plan, teachers are to return to their districts and pass on their new skills to other teachers, who in turn pass them on, until the entire district has its art consciousness raised.
"Hopefully, even though it is only going to reach a few people individually, those people will become so inspired with what they can do as teachers of art (that they will) carry that over into their classrooms and eventually into the entire school," said Esther A. Cleaver, supervisor of fine arts for the Compton district.
Others Have Benefited
Donna Boose, director of elementary instruction for the Downey schools, said that the program seems to have benefited the study of such basics as reading and writing in districts that have participated in the program, "and that's what we're hoping to do."
In addition to Wolfe, Downey will send Karen Pulley and Janice Jamison, teachers at Rio Hondo School, and Principal Judy Fisher and teachers Heather Ketcham and Diane Ybarra from Rio San Gabriel School.
Compton will send Principal Dwight Prince and teachers Inez C. Harvey and Mary Jean Carhee from Bunche Elementary School, and principal Charles Barnett and teachers Betty Douglas and Ruth Potts from Mayo Elementary School.