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For area schools, museum partnership enriches student learning

Friday, May 10, 2019

A little house sits on the shore of America’s oldest fishing port with one mission in mind: to bring history to life for those who live there.

The Cape Ann Museum, in downtown Gloucester, has been an academic resource for more than a century as it bridges the region’s past and present through art installations, interactive exhibits, programs and events. 

And over the years, a number of schools on Cape Ann and the North Shore have taken advantage of the museum's resources to expand on curriculum. 

“You can open up a book and look at a picture of something to give it context,” said Courtney Richardson, the museum’s director of education and public programs. “But to come to a place like the Cape Ann Museum and see different artifacts and objects that relate directly to what they are studying. That is what is really powerful, I think.”

On Saturday, the Cape Ann Museum will continue its mission by hosting the annual Gloucester Citywide School Arts Festival.

For 11 years, the Gloucester Education Foundation and Gloucester Public Schools have hosted an all-day festival where the community can appreciate art and performances by children from every school in the district. The festival takes place at the Cape Ann Museum, 27 Pleasant St.; Kyrouz Auditorium at City Hall, 9 Dale Ave.; and Sawyer Free Library, 2 Dale Ave.

This year, a variety of visual art displays, poetry and drama performances will be exhibited at the museum.

“It is wonderful for kids to be able to bring their families over to the museum to see their work,” said Gloucester Schools Assistant Superintendent Gregg Bach. “There is pride in their work, but there is also automatic exposure to other works of art.”

“It makes for a shared experience for families,” Bach said.

In addition to the festival, community members have found the museum’s material to be a great learning opportunity for students and teachers throughout the academic year. All Cape Ann public school students receive free admission. 

A frequent museum visitor, Xander Oaks, 18, has been able to make connections from the galleries to the streets of his hometown through the field trips Gloucester High School has taken over the years.

“It definitely helps build an appreciation for the place that I live in,” Oaks said. “Coming to the museum and learning how people worked to establish this place and work to protect and create it. How they lived and worked here while maintaining respect for the environment, it kind of puts it all into perspective.”

Regional impact

The museum’s educational impact has reached far beyond Gloucester.

Every year, Kelly Zaval and Laura Doyle, fourth-grade co-teachers at Glen Urquhart School in Beverly, bring their students to the museum to learn about and engage with Gloucester’s history — especially that related to fishing.

As students learned in class about the Gloucester sea serpent — a creature reportedly seen off the coast of Gloucester and Nahant in the 1800s — the museum was able to provide historical documents, images, personal accounts, and artifacts in facilitating the students’ learning.

“The museum provided us with so many different ways of researching and learning information,” Doyle said. “It was amazing.”

After learning about the underwater creatures of Gloucester, fourth-graders were able to articulate their opinion of the sea serpent in essays.

“The students learned how to write a persuasive essay and how to structure it,” Doyle said. “They took a position whether or not they thought the sea serpent was real and then provided evidence.”

“When you get kids excited about the place that they live and you find some content like the sea serpent, fishing, or the lighthouses that are relevant to where the kids live, then you can teach them skills by using that content,” said Zaval.

In addition to lessons about the sea serpents and fishing industry of Gloucester, Glen Urquhart students have had their artwork displayed in the museum as a part of student exhibits.

“For a child at any school, that is a great feeling,” said Zaval. “To be able to say that you are an artist, we are all artists.”

As published in the Gloucester Daily Times.

Welcome Spring: Head of School Letter

Thursday, March 28, 2019

After a long winter, it’s nice to see signs of spring on the GUS campus: crocuses and snowdrops are rising up through the soil in front of the library windows. Red-wing blackbirds are exploring the wetlands and singing “conk-la-ree!” Black-capped chickadees are singing their spring song, which sounds like, “hey, sweetie!” And the snow is gone, hopefully for good. I trust you recharged and rested over the break. The faculty and I look forward to a great spring with your children.

Beginning April 2 and running in three shifts each day through April 6, Play By Design will guide volunteers through the process to build our new playground! If you haven’t signed up for a shift, there’s still time. No experience or special skills are needed! (But if you have skills, we’ll use them.) Shifts run from 8:00 a.m. to noon, 12:30 to 4:00 p.m., and 4:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Special thanks for playground leadership goes out to trustees Andrew Brown and George Balich for managing the preparations. Parent and alumnus Nick Kent has also been instrumental in laying the groundwork. Lots of others have helped thus far and more will follow, and we’ll thank everyone and celebrate a new playground, start to finish, soon.

On the heels of the new playground, we will welcome Rhode Island School of Design Professor Amy Leidtke who will begin the process to design our new lower school “Naturescape.” Working with teachers in Pre-K, K, and 1st grade and observing how students use the current play area, Professor Leidtke will spend April designing a space that will both reflect the GUS program to observers and give children an exciting area to explore, play, and imagine!

This month, we will welcome newly admitted students and families back to campus for a revisit day as they make school choices for next year. We’ll also see 8th graders off to Florida and the Dominican Republic for Service Week. In addition, students will replant the raised beds in the greenhouse to grow spring salad greens. And the Parents Association will host a social event, A Night Out at Braemar Lounge, to give parents a chance to enjoy a gathering with old friends and new.

Before we know it, the May pole will rise and students will be delivering baskets to our neighbors. Hold on tight for what promises to be a fantastic, fun, and busy month!


GUS Visiting Artists: Bradley Dickinson & Jane Sherrill

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

We are excited to welcome Bradley Dickinson and Jane Sherrill to the GUS Lower and Upper School Galleries, as part of our GUS Visiting Artist series. These exhibits will be on-display Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. through April 27, and are open to the public.

All art is for sale. 20% of each sale benefits the GUS scholarship fund. Please contact Dawn Southworth at 978-927-1064 x109 with any questions.

The Johnson Gallery in the lower school:

Bradley Dickinson Radical Skateboards

Born and raised in Gloucester, MA, Bradley Dickinson's passion for social justice and equity is reflected in his work. 

Upper School Gallery:

Jane Sherrill Land/Sea/Sky

From the artist: "Between 2011–2016 I painted this group of land/seascapes with the intention of bearing witness to my environment. The threat of climate change looms in my consciousness as I paint—it becomes pressingly urgent to mark this moment saying, “Here, right now, this is what it looked like.” And for a sad commentary, right after finishing a series of oceanscapes off Pt. Pleasant NJ, hurricane Sandy blew in and altered the NJ coast."

New Spring Offering: Adult Art Courses!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

We are excited to offer a series of art classes and workshops this spring - for adults!

Step into a welcoming space with GUS Faculty, Margaurita Spear, and get creative! REGISTER TODAY!






Beginning Drawing (5-week course)
Tuesdays, April 2 - 30, 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.
Adults, $150

Using charcoal and a large pad of drawing paper, develop basic skills in representational drawing from in-class still life arrangements. Develop a visual art repertoire that includes an understanding of composition, value, implied texture, balance, form, space, and emphasis. While directed towards beginner students, intermediate and advanced students are welcome to join and explore more advanced subjects, techniques or applications. Supply list provided upon registration. Child care provided for 4 years old and up for $15.00 per week.