kathyderosasSpotlight:  3D Art Teacher Kathy deRosas

I am Kathy deRosas the 3D Arts teacher at Crocker Highlands Elementary School. My 2- 10 hours a week at Crocker are spent on helping the kids translate their concepts into physical objects while learning how to use their cognitive and motor skills to shape clay along the way.  The kids then learn how to glaze their clay objects, with me carefully transporting an array of beautiful ceramic monsters, bowls, cups, haunted houses, cats to and from the kiln.  While you can generally find me rolling around a cart filled with clay, clay tools, glazes and brushes; I can sometimes be found in a storage room near the multi – purpose room, where I hide to do all my class prep.

I have an undergraduate degree in education and an MFA in art. I have spent 25 years in art, and art education with an emphasis on early childhood art education. While I have worked in private art studios, museums, art centers, after school programs and my own art/ ceramic studio, the most influential art teaching job was at a private studio The Berkeley Child Art Studio in Berkeley, CA. in the 1990’s.  The studio’s philosophy of play based and child directed curriculum exposed me to the perceptual development of children through the fine arts of drawing, painting and sculpture.  I taught and developed curriculum for parent and child art classes, and children from the ages 3 through 13 years. This was the beginning of my work in ceramics and teaching ceramics to preschool and school age children. I was also introduced to many progressive educators and philosophers. These four individual’s books are the foundation of my teaching philosophy.  Howard Gardner, Artful Scribbles Signifance of Children’s Drawings, Rudolf Arnheim Art and Visual Perception, A Psychology of the Creative Type, Rhoda Kellog Analyzing Children’s Art, and Herbert Read, Art is Education. The exposure to these educators /writers has assisted me in teaching that enhances and develops creativity.

My role is to introduce the students to the basic skills of ceramics. This includes techniques such as the pinch pot, coil and slab techniques of hand building and brush glazing using low fire glazes.   Truth be told, it’s about early sensory development, the development of fine and gross motor skills, self -expression, problem–solving, and very importantly a sense of pride in their creativity.

The kindergarten and first graders are primarily learning the basic skills of making pinch pots, coils and learning how to attach two pieces of clay together. The projects are more complicated as the students gain more experiences working with clay. These skills are integrated into a project that reflects the curriculum for each classroom. For example:

  • Ms. Butler integrated the students pinch pot ceramic monsters with a writing project.
  • Ms. Labaro’s first graders, who are in the glazing stage of their ceramic pinch and coil pots, have the project integrated into their science curriculum.
  • Ms. Anderson’s 3rd grade class, who have just finished their cereal bowl clay project and are integrating the clay project with the empty bowl project, www.emptybowls.com and “The Alameda Food Bank” in early November.
  • All the 4th graders will be making Mojave pots that integrates California history. The focus will be on the coil pot, and glaze Mojave geometric designs like Mojave pottery.  
  • Mosaics is a new technique that I introduced in the 3rd grade. In the spring, while Ms. Graffius teaches a unit on sea animals and Ms. Dino teaches a unit on space, both classes will end up using the slab hand building techniques to creating their own mosaics through clay.  

There 3 ceramic projects at school that students at Crocker have created:

  1. In the hallway to the multipurpose room there are 6-7 ceramic and mosaic spirit animals created by Ms. Spees and Ms. Oretsky’s 5th graders. 20142
  2. In the courtyard, there is the ceramic lifecycle of the monarch butterfly created by Ms. Anderson’s 2nd graders now 3rd graders. 2016
  3. In the office, there is a ceramic heart that says “I love Crocker” created by my students in the Clay Explorations after school class. 2016

While the program has given students an opportunity to experience the magic of clay, I am deeply overjoyed to witness that sense of pride that the kids display on their creation.  I thoroughly enjoy working in the classroom with so many diverse teachers and students, with each project being so unique to the culture and community of the classroom. One perfect moment is when I open the kiln after glaze firing and I see all colorful objects ready to go to the classrooms.

THANK YOU for all your support. I am grateful for all the teachers, parent volunteers and students that make all the projects a wonderful experience and a whole lot of fun!

The Ceramics Arts program is one of the many programs paid for by the Crocker PTA.  Please donate to Annual Giving to continue to keep this and our other programs running!