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After-School Program Brings Youngsters to Glass Studio

Hands-on instruction provides creative learning experience

NORFOLK, Va. – (December 2013) – The Chrysler Museum Glass Studio has launched a new education initiative, Glass After School (GAS), that introduces middle school students to a unique classroom filled with fire and glass. The program is made possible by a $25,000 gift from The Batten Educational Achievement Fund of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. In this after-school program, eight Norfolk middle-school students finish their week with one more class—this one focused on glassmaking.

The Glass Studio program’s inaugural partner is After the Bell, an after-school program for students from James Blair, Lafayette-Winona, and Lake Taylor Middle Schools sponsored by Norfolk Recreation, Parks & Open Space (RPOS). It’s an ideal partnership since that program is dedicated to providing extended academic support, social enrichment, and recreational programs to middle-school students in a safe and supportive environment.

The students enjoy the creative art-making projects, but the Glass After School program delivers much more. Students learn to work with tools and to understand the importance of practice. They study the scientific properties of glass and master a new vocabulary. They meet physical challenges by practicing skill drills. They develop trust and teamwork as they learn to rely on partners. Finally, they build confidence by safely mastering hot-glass processes typically seen as “dangerous.”

“The Glass Studio is a perfect venue for this new program since we have experienced educators and a fun, creative environment,” said Anne Corso, director of education for the Chrysler Museum. “The students are immediately engaged when they walk through the door.” 

Each class of eight students meets for two hours on Friday afternoons for four weeks. The classes run through June 2014. Class sizes are small so that students receive hands-on instruction. Funding for the program includes transportation to and from the Glass Studio.

“I see the students’ eyes glow with pride once they score and break the glass off the blowpipe for the first time,” Studio Instructor Kristi Totoritis said. “It melts my heart. You can watch their self-esteem grow right before you when they are able to create with a material they have always been told not to touch.”

“All of my life, people told me not to play with glass and not to play with fire because I’d get hurt—but I didn’t get hurt,” 11-year-old Kayla said after her first glassblowing session. “I was good at this! And I could do this as a job,” she said. With a broad smile, Kayla added, “I felt like somebody doing something important for the first time.”

“While the primary beneficiaries of this new program are the students, the Museum also benefits by reaching students during the year the Museum is closed for a major expansion and renovation,” added  Bill Hennessey, director of the Chrysler. “Additionally, this program expands our ability to serve an age group not currently served by any existing Glass Studio program.”
 
“We are honored to be the first to partner with the Chrysler Museum of Art and the Glass Studio,” said Clifton Russell, RPOS Norfolk senior recreation supervisor II. “It is always great to see students take advantage of opportunities that may otherwise pass them by. The value in discovering new things is so precious, and the Glass Studio provides an experience many students will treasure for a long time to come.”

The Chrysler Museum Glass Studio is located directly across the street from the Chrysler Museum at 745 Duke Street in Norfolk. The Chrysler Museum of Art is one of America’s most distinguished mid-sized art museums with a world-class collection of more than 30,000 objects, including one of the great glass collections in America, The Glass Studio, which opened in November 2011, brings the collection to life through innovative performance and educational programs. The Glass Studio offers free glassmaking demonstrations, classes, and workshops for students and adults. The state-of-the-art facility accommodates both aspiring and master glass artists with fully equipped facilities for a range of glassmaking processes. For more information, events and programming, call (757) 664-6200.

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Contact Cindy Mackey
cmackey@chrysler.org
(757) 754-4553

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