The Right Brain Initiative


New “ah-ha” moments: A school’s perspective

May 21st, 2010 by Right Brain Team

An Oak Grove Elementary student shows the work he created during a classroom residency with photographer Julie Keefe.

Wandy Daily, media/library staff at Oak Grove Elementary in Milwaukie, was also present at our professional development session last week. Students at her school worked with nationally known photographer Julie Keefe, who has an extensive background working with diverse groups of Portland area kids (hear the NPR coverage of her Hello, Neighbor project, a collaboration with our good friends at Caldera). At Oak Grove,  Julie worked with the students to explore the concept of metaphor through imagery and writing, as a means to deepen community and cooperation between the students.

Here’s what Wanda had to say about the reflection process as guided at our professional development session:

It was very interesting to see the work being done in other districts and buildings, and to hear about the process of choosing goals and artists. This year we selected Julie’s photography because of another school’s past residency. Julie is dynamic and an inspiration for our students. Our goal was to reduce bullying behaviors by increasing empathy and awareness of others. It is thrilling to see how many people are stopped in the hallways to view the photographs as they go up. I know it has increased my awareness of individuals and the student body as a whole.

In this difficult economic time, we appreciate, more than ever, the work of Right Brain to help initiate and sustain quality art programming in our schools. Clearly, we cannot do this without your support. That was one take-away from the May 12th workshop for me. The sheer luxury of being able to reflect on our year and being guided in a format that models the creative synergy possible was wonderful.

Excited about the students’ reflections on this residency, Wanda also compiled for us some quotes from Oak Grove sixth graders on what they felt they learned (these comments were posted in the school’s hallway next to the photographs):

  • “I learned that photography is much more than taking a picture.”
  • “I learned that when you take a picture you can feel good about yourself and your personality.”
  • “I learned more stuff about my classmates that I never knew. And another thing, you can take photos different ways.”
  • “I learned that people see me in a good way.”
  • “All the angles in pictures, people see me different than I thought.”
  • “I learned that photography could be a good career choice for me.”
  • “I learned a lot of people thought I’m a different person than I am. I learned that I want to learn more about photography.”

Right Brain Team