College of Communication and Fine Arts
University of Memphis Photo
Art Students Staffed Art Academy for Elementary Students
Willow Oaks Elementary student during an afterschool art class Willow Oaks Elementary student during closing reception for art afterschool program

(Left) Jesus Bolanos discusses his book, Noisifella, with April Overly (BFA '13), student teacher. Bolanos went online and created a book he wrote using his artwork. (Right) Jordan Cross explains her artwork during the Spring Arts Academy reception held at the end of the afterschool program in April.

 The Art Department and Willow Oaks Elementary worked together to create the Spring Arts Academy, which met Wednesdays this spring at Willow Oaks. The academy was headed by Bryna Bobick and Donalyn Heise, professors in the Art Department, and Willow Oaks Art Teacher Jami Hooper (MAT ’02).

As part of the program, Art Education students from the U of M worked with fourth and fifth grade students to create art pieces in watercolor, print-making, collage, color pencil and pastels. Bobick and Heise provided students to staff the program.

“It’s an opportunity for them to get into a school prior to student teaching,” Heise said.

Students involved are working on their BFA, MAT or licensure. It’s an informal atmosphere that helps them relax and get comfortable in the classroom.

“It helps give them the confidence to teach in inner-city schools,” Bobick said.

April Overly (BFA ‘13) said the program was a great learning and growing experience for her. Overly was student teaching at Willow Oaks for most of program before getting another assignment at Kingsbury High School. The afterschool program is small, so students are specially chosen to attend.

“All the kids in here are talented,” Overly said. “We try to pick the kids (for the afterschool program) who really enjoy it. A lot of them are in fifth grade, and they will be going to middle school next year. We’re trying to prepare them.”

This is the first year art was taught as part of the curriculum at Willow Oaks. The successful afterschool program was a surprise for Principal Pat Alexander and Hooper.

“I love working with these kids, at this school,” Hooper said about her art classes. “The teachers, the students have been so sweet and receptive to what we’re doing.”

During the school year, work from her art classes is displayed throughout the school.

“The principal keeps asking when we’re going to put up more artwork,” she said.

Principal Alexander is pleased and excited about the art program with Hooper at the helm and the afterschool collaboration with the Art Department.

“This is the coolest opportunity,” she said.

For more information, contact Heise at or Bobick at

small version of the nameplate for magazine

Related Links



Text Only | Print | Got a Question? Ask TOM | Contact Us | Memphis, TN 38152 | 901/678-2000 | Copyright 2015 University of Memphis | Important Notice | Last Updated: 
College of Communication and Fine Arts | 901/678-2350 | Contact us
Last Updated: 9/3/13