Partnership with Meadowlark Elementary

UMOCA K–12 Educator, Golda Dopp Ovalles, with Meadowlark Elementary students

UMOCA partnered with Meadowlark Elementary, a Title I school that enrolls 100% economically disadvantaged students and 80% minority students. In our pilot year of this partnership, we worked with Meadowlark administration and educators to identify which needs UMOCA could meaningfully fill.

After a round of dialogues with staff, we created a month-long art and cultural knowledge curriculum that taught art concepts based on Ramadan, a month of fasting in the Islamic faith. Extending our partnership to the Utah Muslim Civic League enabled the Muslim students at Meadowlark (who make of 20% of the student body) to feel seen and heard in authentic ways.

The curriculum was taught in-person to 86 students and delivered virtually to 121 K-6 students. The virtual delivery was shared with other K-12 educators throughout Utah, reaching an additional 150 students.

Christine Gibbs, 6th Grade Teacher, Meadowlark Elementary 

It has been such a pleasure to partner with the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art this year as they presented their Ramadan program. Our school, Meadowlark Elementary, is located on the western edge of Rose Park. Our school community is comprised predominantly of Spanish-speaking, Latinx families, but does include groups of students who are Muslim and observe Ramadan from various other backgrounds. 

I teach 6th grade and have several students who are fasting during Ramadan. My teammates and I observed after each lesson that we saw our students who were observing Ramadan stand up a little taller, their eyes shining a little brighter as we discussed Ramadan and explored themes from their cultural and religious context; they had personal connections to the material we were covering. This program also served to expose the rest of my students to rich traditions and practices which are often misconstrued and misunderstood. Feeling seen and heard (for my Muslim students) and being able to explore and listen to new ideas (for the rest of my students) are powerful and essential parts of education and creating community.

During this disrupted and intense school year, the opportunity to engage with art has been even more important than ever for students. I had a hybrid class, with students who attended in-person as well as those who remained attending on-line. Watching students concentrate on cutting, drawing, painting, and creating was delightful, their heads inclined in careful concentration in the classroom as well as at home. I believe that art, and the opportunity to engage in the artistic process, will be even more important to integrate into our classrooms in the coming years as we move out of this pandemic. My students looked forward to our four weeks of meetings with Golda, eagerly checking the schedule on Tuesdays to make sure she would be coming. We were even more fortunate to be able to visit UMOCA and have our first field trip of this unusual year.

I can safely speak for my 6th grade team, and all the teachers at Meadowlark who were able to participate in this program, in expressing enormous amounts of gratitude to UMOCA and Riego Castillo, one of our 2nd grade teachers, for forging this partnership. It was so valuable, and I hope we can continue in the future!

Meadowlark Elementary students during field trip to UMOCA