art vistas unlimited
 volunteers bringing art to students for 20 years
union school district - san jose and los gatos, ca
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  about art vistas unlimited

Art Vistas Unlimited was formed in 1984 by eight parents from Alta Vista Elementary School in the Union School District. The initial funding was from Alta Vista Home and School Club, and from a $1,000 Revenue-Sharing Grant from the Town of Los Gatos, California. In June, 1985, Art Vistas Unlimited was organized with the purpose of providing instruction and enrichment in art appreciation, art history, and art techniques to students in grades K - 5. The organization adopted bylaws, and in January, 1986, the first presentations were given at Alta Vista School. After a six-month trial, Athenour (now closed) and Carlton Schools joined the program. In the spring of 1988, Guadalupe and Noddin Schools joined. In 1991, Oster and Lietz Elementary Schools, as well as Union and Dartmouth Middle Schools, joined the program to become Art Vistas Unlimited in the Union School District. Lone Hill (now closed) added the program in 1998.

Six times a year, Art Vistas docents bring "mini exhibits" of great works of art into the elementary school classrooms and conduct easy-to-understand discussions with the children; this is followed by hands-on lessons that provide unique creative opportunities. Docents involved in the Art Vistas program enjoy working with children and seeing them grow in understanding and enjoyment of art appreciation and art history. With the knowledge and language gained from Art Vistas presentations, students can approach any work of art with a sense of confidence. They can discuss the artist's use of color, line, shape, texture, and value. In addition, the students' own artwork improves with the knowledge and hands-on experience gained from the program.

The Art Vistas docents have also been instrumental in setting up annual art shows at each school so the community can enjoy the children's wonderful creations. The docents have collected, sorted, mounted, tagged, and displayed thousands of pieces of student art.

The entire organization is voluntary, from classroom docents to head docents who coordinate the program at each school site to the members of the executive board. The board consists of a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, portfolio managers, and all of the head docents from the Union schools. All docents who wish to do presentations in the classroom are required to take the appropriate training. Each year a contract is signed by the principal and head docents and a fee paid to cover the costs of running the program, which include providing the art reproductions in portfolio cases and printing thousands of pages of lesson plans for training. Each school is responsible for purchasing the supplies needed to do the hands-on projects.

Art Vistas curriculum development is an ongoing process, which now includes lessons for the middle schools. These lessons are tied in with the social studies curriculum and provide further enrichment of the subject. The dedicated members of Art Vistas devote many hours to the program in training, preparing materials, and presenting lessons to the students of the Union School District. Art Vistas volunteers keep art accessible to all of our district's students.

In addition, a number of schools have purchased the Art Vistas lesson plans and set up the program, tailoring it to the needs and resources of their specific communities. We are proud of the fact that our "homegrown" curriculum is now being used to enrich the educational experience of students beyond the borders of the Union School District.

Art Vistas Bylaws (Adobe Reader is required to view this file.)