Nativity School for New Bedford youngsters serves as Art Education lab school for UMass Dartmouth ar

Visit the basement of the former YWCA building in downtown New Bedford, and you'll perhaps encounter a group of boys sketching, painting, even making puppet figures.

March 5, 2003 

Nativity School for New Bedford youngsters serves as Art Education lab school for UMass Dartmouth art majors 

Visit the basement of the former YWCA building in downtown New Bedford, and you'll perhaps encounter a group of boys sketching, painting, even making puppet figures. 

You've come upon one of the art classes at the Nativity Preparatory School—and something more: another university-community collaboration, a partnership of considerable benefit to both the Nativity students and art education majors in CVPA, the College of Visual and Performing Arts at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. 

In the fall of 2001, Nativity became a "lab school" for the CVPA art education program. In the beginning, the art education faculty were the principal art teachers at this innovative school for boys in grades five through eight, but their roles have gradually shifted; this semester, two graduate students are the leading teachers, handling the semi-weekly lessons while guided by Art Education chairperson Arlene Mollo and Prof. Kathy Miraglia. 

And during the classes, undergraduates are very much present—reviewing the curriculum, observing the pupil-teacher interactions, taking notes on the lessons and their lessons, or informally guiding a Nativity youngster with his artwork. 

Spending time at Nativity is the real-world component of the undergraduate courses on curriculum development and methods and materials. Nativity provides an invaluable foundation for the art education majors' upcoming practicuum, when they spend a semester actually teaching. 

"This is guided observation," Mollo explains, "and really helps our students understand the youngsters. They do have the opportunity to teach one class here." 

The lab school venture is particularly appealing, she says, because it provides the UMass Dartmouth student a non-traditional learning environment—Nativity is hardly a typical prep school. 

Opened almost three years ago, the New Bedford school is part of the Nativity network, privately-funded, tuition-free schools for boys in grades 5 through 8. Youngsters and their families come to Nativity because they're seeking a rigorous academic atmosphere, one they might otherwise be unable to find or afford. These are boys committed to excellence in their studies, willing to put in long hours and extra effort, and undeterred by strict rules on attendance, punctuality, and dress codes.


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