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Lyseth Students Explore Portraits & Poetry

"Seeing With New Eyes: Portraits & Poetry," an interdisciplinary exhibit rooted in poetry, social-emotional learning (SEL) and the visual arts, opened at Lyseth Elementary School on Feb. 5. This vibrant and immersive exhibit invites the community to experience students' emotions, experiences with nature, and artistic expression.

Under the guidance of visiting artist Liz Bieber and teacher Leigh Quigley, fourth grade students participated in a months-long project to prepare for the exhibition.

"This project has been an exciting and empowering journey for my students," Leigh Quigley said. “They've explored their feelings and relationships with themselves, their community and the natural world. The poetry and photography study was incredibly inspirational and opened doors to so much more. For me, it was a privilege to see students take hold of new parts of themselves.  It has been a deeply emotional and rewarding journey for me from the initial seeds of thought to the bloom of the student exhibition.”

Through photography workshops with Liz Bieber and poetry instruction with Leigh Quigley, along with support from Lyseth art teachers Ellen Handelman and Haley Nelson, the students translated these emotions into Photographs & Poetry. They then enhanced their works with other embellishments, creating unique visual representations of themselves. Chapter 104 Consultant/Teacher Melissa Burke and ESOL Teacher Olga Mbala Koni provided structure and language support as the students created their poetry.

"This collaborative project is a testament to the power of interdisciplinary learning," said Natasha Martinez, the school's environmental literacy teacher. "By integrating SEL practices with poetry and art, we've created a space for students to express themselves authentically and build deeper connections to themselves, each other, and the natural world."

Special thanks to Sylvie Montello, community coordinator; Painting for a Purpose, which provided the students with a $500 grant for the project; Taylor Lawrence at FedEx Office, Monument Square; Donors Choose; and John Quigley for post production and project management.

The Lyseth community was invited to the school on Feb. 5 to celebrate these students and their work. Visitors to the school now can enjoy the exhibit in the school’s atrium. After this school year, the exhibit will stay on in permanent display in other areas of the school.

Photos: (Above) Lyseth Elementary School students enjoy the new "Portraits & Poetry" exhibit in the school's atrium.

More photos of the project are below. Teacher Leigh Quigley (seated in front of portraits) guided her fourth-grade students in the project, along with other collaborators.