A national benchmark in
Educational excellence through integration of the arts

Posts Written By: erin

Summer Construction Projects

Summer Construction Projects

June 18th, 2019

Summer construction projects have begun!  During this process, please remember, there is no parking in front of the school and the main entrance to the building is closed. School visitors may park in the gravel lot across the street and enter via the loading dock door on the Sherwood Road side of the building off the North Wing. This door will only be unlocked for camp drop off and pick up (8:15-9:15, 12:15-12:45, and 3:45-5:00). At all other times, the door will be locked. Visitors are advised to call the front office at 298-2787 to schedule visits. We are excited about the changes happening this summer and thank you for your patience during the construction.

If you or someone you know would like to support us in achieving our goal please follow the link below!

ArtSpace Family Rave Night

Tickets will be available for purchase at the door. If you wish to make a donation to Ms. Claire but can not attend the rave please use the “button” below to make a donation using PayPal.  You do not have to have a PayPal account to make a donation.

Meet Ms Kristin and Ms Chelsea, our School Counselors

Meet Ms Kristin and Ms Chelsea, our School Counselors

This week is national school counselor week, and ArtSpace is grateful to have two amazing school counselors supporting the social-emotional needs of the students.  Ms. Kristin returns for her second year as ArtSpace’s counselor and is working closely with kindergarten – 4th-grade students. This year Ms. Kristin has been joined by Ms. Chelsea who works with 5th-8th-grade students. We were able to add a second counselor with funding provided through a new state grant, the School Mental Health Professionals grant.

bulletin board of photos of new students to the school.
Bulletin board created at the beginning of the year to welcome new students to the community.

Of course, Ms. Kristin and Ms. Chelsea counsel individual students who need emotional support to achieve greater success in their school day and beyond, but their responsibilities do not stop there.  The school has several programs that wouldn’t happen without the direction and leadership of the counseling team.

Ms. Chelsea and Ms. Kristin, and visual arts teacher Ms. Jocelyn led the pledge signing this fall for ArtSpace’s No Place for Hate designation by the Anti Defamation League for the third year in a row.  Along with middle school language arts teacher Ms. Leila, they serve as faculty advisors, for ArtSpace’s student government. Members of the student council work on service projects each year to support the school as well as the Swannanoa Valley Community.  The counseling team helps coordinate other service projects throughout the year beyond the work with student government.

ArtSpace artisans recognized for demonstrating courage in the first quarter of the 2018-19 school year.

ArtSpace counselors collaborate with other school counselors, community organizations, and charities to support health and wellness initiatives, personal safety, and crisis response efforts. Ms. Chelsea and Ms. Kristin work with various local organizations to distribute food (and gifts during the holidays) to ArtSpace families that may be in need of assistance.  

tiny Christmas trees  decorated by middle school students for patients in long term care facilities over the holidays.
Tiny Christmas tree decorated by students in several grade levels. These trees are given to patients who were in long term care facilities over the holidays.

Ms. Kristin has focused some of her energies working with k-4 students teaching lessons on topics such as courage, growth mindset, personal space, conflict resolution, etc.  She has also started a social thinking group in collaboration with 1st-grade teacher Ms. M. Ms. Chelsea supports 5th and 6th grade with class meetings, health and wellness activities, and middle school teachers with curriculum for TRIBES. She hosts social lunch groups for middle schoolers, as well as the Rainbow Alliance for 7/8th grade students who identify with or are allies of the LGBT community.

ArtSpace is again so fortunate to have not one but two amazing counselors that support individual students while strengthening the awareness, mindfulness, and kindness of the entire community. To learn more about ArtSpace Counseling programs, as well as access a broad range of community resources, please follow this link to the website created and updated by Ms. Chelsea and Ms. Kristin.

Mornings in Motion

Mornings in Motion

SWANNANOA, NC – ArtSpace Charter School has always offered free morning care for students beginning each day at 7:30.  On Tuesday, November 27th students were invited to join the inaugural day of “Jump Start” a jump rope club lead by ArtSpace PE Teacher Michael Barfield.  This and other activities, that will include dance and yoga, are part of a new enrichment program “Mornings in Motion” ArtSpace is piloting this year.

Thanks to a Title IV federal grant ArtSpace received funding to pilot this three-day a week enrichment program for all students who wish to participate.  Movement-based activities before starting the school day can help students focus, and be more creative. On it’s the first day “Jump Start” was a huge hit, and was well attended.

Poppy, a fourth grader at ArtSpace said, “It’s fun and energetic, and has helped me wake up for my school day.”  Other fourth graders said they were excited about “Jump Start”; Kael said he is looking forward to the new activities that would be available in the coming months.  “I hope maybe we could do some racing, like intervals, relays or something like that”. Kindergartener Abby said she loves the new program “because you get to do something new”.  She learned how to jump rope her first day in “Jump Start”.

15 Years of Shakespeare in the Valley!

15 Years of Shakespeare in the Valley!

AN ARTSPACE JOURNEY – John Hall, 6th Grade Language Arts and Social Studies Teacher

I began my teaching job at ArtSpace Charter School in the fall of 2003, after almost three years teaching at West McDowell Junior High.  Before I became a teacher, I worked in professional theatre as an actor, director and producer.  Through my experience with children’s theatre, I experienced the power of creative dramatics with young people. When I began teaching at ArtSpace, a school dedicated to integrating the arts with the standard course of study, I knew I could utilize my theatre background in the classroom.  So, in my first year as a language arts and social studies teacher at ArtSpace I worked with our drama specialist Josh Batenhorst to introduce the works of William Shakespeare to sixth and seventh grade.  Why Shakespeare? Integrating the plays of William Shakespeare into the language arts and socials studies curriculum allowed me to teach figurative language, poetry and storytelling to students within a historical and social context, and it allowed our drama specialist to teach the theatre arts curriculum as well. Plus, it was fun!

Female student standing next to an older man with a clipboard on a stage

Mr. Hall giving notes to a student in the 2015-2016 production of The Merry Wives of Windsor

Our first productions, Hamlet (7th grade) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (6th grade) took place in my classroom.  We used shortened versions of the plays, with slightly altered translations of the text to make them more accessible to students. It was a challenging endeavor, to say the least, though ultimately a success and the feedback from students, families and staff encouraged me to continue the yearly project.  Since ArtSpace, a fairly new school in the early 2000’s, didn’t yet have its own theatre, the next few years we rented spaces from local venues such as NC Stage Company, Belk Theatre at UNCA and The Asheville School to perform our Shakespeare plays.  Our productions grew in ambition, and students even performed scenes for a retirement home in nearby Black Mountain.  After a few years, Josh (Captain Josh as we all called him) challenged me to drop the slightly-altered versions and have students perform the true Shakespearean texts. Working solely with sixth graders at that point, I was concerned students might struggle with the difficult words, but ultimately agreed that the beauty of Shakespeare’s imagery and writing was worth the struggle.  It was a wise move, and the experience of hearing Shakespeare’s soaring language coming from our students was magical.

In our new theatre space that opened in 2008, sixth graders have tackled such plays as Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, Romeo & Juliet, Richard III, MacBeth, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry V, As You Like It and The Comedy of Errors (set in the Star Wars universe no less!)  Captain Josh left ArtSpace a few years ago, but our current drama specialist Beth Lexa has continued working with sixth grade to bring Shakespeare’s plays to the stage.

Two female middle school students standing on stage wearing Elizabethan clothing

From the 2016-2017 production of The Merchant of Venice

Not only does utilizing Shakespeare’s works enable me to teach language and oral expression in a historical context, the plays are also able to be used as vehicles to address social and ethical issues.  For example, last year’s sixth graders performed The Merchant of Venice and The Taming of the Shrew, two highly controversial plays – Merchant for its anti-Semitism, and Shrew for its sexism.  Because I knew we’d be performing these plays in March, I began the school year focusing on the theme of “status” and how ancient cultures developed social systems based on levels of status, often regarding gender. Furthermore, when we began preparing for our plays, students conducted interviews with family members regarding moments in their lives when they were aware of status, and how that awareness affected them. The results of these family conversations were astounding. Parents and grandparents related experiences of gender inequality and racial profiling, among other memories.  Students also studied the history of anti-Semitism and how it spread over Europe and eventually the U.S. In fact, at the same time students were rehearsing The Merchant of Venice, the U.S. saw an uptick in anti-Semitic hate crimes.  Though not always pleasant, this exploration of status in ancient cultures and our own society deepened students’ understanding of the two plays they were performing as well as the human proclivity for exclusion and alienation.

What has been the legacy of fifteen years of Shakespeare in the Swannanoa Valley? Former students and parents of former students relate stories of how their experiences with Shakespeare’s plays in sixth grade at ArtSpace positively affected their lives.  Several former students are still performing on stage in high school and college, and tell us that their love of theatre and performance began with their sixth grade Shakespeare plays. Though our yearly Shakespeare plays have given students the opportunity to develop a love of performing, they’ve also given struggling students an opportunity to experience success where they haven’t in traditional academics. Some of my best memories from the Shakespeare plays have been when struggling students or students with special needs were able to achieve success and receive positive feedback from peers.  The confidence these students received from their success in the plays stuck with them, affecting other areas of their learning and their lives.  These memories are most gratifying.

So, as March approaches, ArtSpace sixth grade is once again in preparation for our Shakespeare plays. As in 2003, our plays will be Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  To quote from Hamlet, “The play’s the thing!”

This article can also be found online at the Black Mountain News


8th Graders at ArtSpace Make Chemistry Visual

8th Graders at ArtSpace Make Chemistry Visual

An example of an elemental trading card

All across North Carolina 8th grade students learn about the basics of chemistry, as it is a major focus of the NC Essential Science Standards.  Students explore the periodic table of elements, what the labels mean, and how the table is organized. Students also investigate the structure of an atom and the types of atomic bonds, as well as the basics of a balanced chemical equation after a reaction.

At ArtSpace Charter School 8th graders discover, think deeply about, and experiment with these concepts through several visual arts projects facilitated by their teacher Nick Rogowski.  One of these projects is to represent the properties, and atomic information of a specific element, by producing an elemental trading card. After exploring the information presented about each element presented in the periodic table, the students research the origins and organization of the periodic table.  To assess their understanding Mr. Nick assigns a painting in which students create artistic metaphors to represent the categories and organization of the Periodic Table.

Organization of the periodic table painting

Brochure about different types of molecular bonds

Next students move beyond the elements to an exploration of molecular bonds.  Students create a “travel

brochure” to solidify their understanding. One of the final concepts students investigate in 8th-grade chemistry is the “balancing of elements” after a chemical reaction.  8th graders at ArtSpace observe the work of sculptor Alexander Calder and create mobiles of balanced chemical equations.

Certainly, all of this science could be studied in a textbook, and a few short answer questions might suffice to assess basic understanding of this unit, but students at ArtSpace create connections between science and visual art, which helps solidify deeper understanding, as well as allowing them to be creative as they demonstrate their knowledge. Through visual art projects teacher Nick Rogowski has also required his students to synthesize the information they have learned at a much more sophisticated level than short answer questions ever could.  That’s the power of arts integration!

Examples of Alexander Calder inspired balanced equation mobiles



ArtSpace Community Thankful for Playspace Improvements

ArtSpace Community Thankful for Playspace Improvements

Over the years at ArtSpace, our outdoor space has evolved from very humble beginnings to the large multi-use space it is now.  Some of this change has happened gradually, with the driving force of dedicated staff members and parent volunteers. Seasoned staff members Lyn Van Over and Darlene Dimenna can recount many of the herculean tasks accomplished under their guidance and with the support of our community.

Students enjoy spinning on the new merry-go-round

Recently, however, due to a combination of unfortunate and much more fortunate events, outdoor spaces at ArtSpace have achieved a level beyond the imaginings of those first families who made up the ArtSpace Community.

At the close of the 2014-15 school year, ArtSpace won a playground sweepstakes that amounted to some expensive playground equipment, and a $15,000 cash prize to be spent on the outdoor space in a way that would encourage physical fitness. A hard surface court was created in part due to this influx of funds.

In the 2015-16 school year, ArtSpace experienced a flood that “was bad . . . really bad” in the words of ArtSpace’s loyal, multi-tasking building manager, Thomas Solesby.  P.A.C.E., the governing board of the school, and administrators were aware of the possibility of flood damage being great and consultations as well as planning were underway to create a solution, but the funds needed were also a factor.

Due to a devoted community, ArtSpace received thousands of dollars in donations after the flood.  Along with our insurance settlement and money withdrawn from reserve funding, the necessary engineering was undertaken to ensure that ArtSpace wouldn’t experience another catastrophic flood event.  That process required the removal of a lot of earth from around the building, which was relocated across the street to the field and playground areas.  This was a blessing in disguise, creating the ability for a track to be created around the field, as well as expanding the play space for more equipment.

The new spider web located east of the swings

This is when F.A.C.E. (Foundation for the Arts at the Core of Education) stepped in with funds from our 2nd Act ArtSpace Community Thrift Store.  The store, which opened during the 2015-16 school year, has been a huge success under the management of Robin Allred, and support of the F.A.C.E. board.  The Thrift Store was launched with the purpose of creating an income stream for the school, as well as a community resource for the Swannanoa Valley at large.

With some of the profits made in the 2016-17 school year, F.A.C.E. funding helped to purchase and install the merry-go-round, rope web, and climbing cube just east of the swings.  Students have really enjoyed having the added equipment on which to climb and spin. Veteran staff members are grateful that people continued to fight for their vision of enhanced play spaces for the students at ArtSpace.  The development of the outdoor spaces at ArtSpace has far surpassed any original plans.  The school is so thankful that F.A.C.E. considered the play needs of the students and invested in this new equipment.  ArtSpace is also so very thankful for the entire community who have supported the store through donations, purchases, and volunteer hours and would like to offer a big thank you to everyone involved!

Red Meander Project and Old Depot Association

Red Meander Project and Old Depot Association

ArtSpace Charter School  is once again grateful for the support of The Old Depot Association of Black Mountain for supporting a public works project that is an homage to the mountain valley in which the school is located. In the 2016-17 school year Visual Art Specialist Jocelyn Reese applied for and received a grant from the Association for the supplies to create an outdoor art piece inspired by the fiber artist Anni Albers.

Ms. Jocelyn felt an exterior breezeway supported by horizontal joists outside the arts wing lent itself perfectly to creating an art piece inspired by the weaving Red Meander, by Anni Albers.  The installation features rows of color on 25 joists that have been painted to mimic Albers’ design.   Anni Albers was a professor at the famed Bauhaus in Germany before its forced close.  She and her husband Joseph were professors at the arts based Black Mountain College from 1933-1949.

Ms. Jocelyn is eager to use this large scale visual work to teach students about weaving elements, geometry, rhythm and unity.  Of course this piece offers students, and other members of the community an example of local art history as well.  The installation was painted by ArtSpace parent and local artist Lara Nguyen and several of her students from Warren Wilson College.

In addition to paint supplies, Ms. Jocelyn requested funds to create signs that explain the significance of the installation, pay homage to Anni Albers, as well as thanking those who made the installation possible. ArtSpace is grateful to Lara, her students and to The Old Depot for supporting this project.

The ArtSpace Community is thankful for the continued support from the Old Depot Association over the years.  Students have had many varied arts opportunities from visiting artist experiences to hands on arts projects due to the dedication of the Association.

The Old Depot Association will be hosting the 20th annual juried art show “Art on the Tracks” on Sutton street, October 28th,

ArtSpace Dominica Relief Drive

A note from Ms. Andrea…

 Wow! Every donation to Dominica has added up to almost 2 barrels of food and supplies (each over 220 lbs.) for this Caribbean nation in need of our help. During their time of relief and support, the island community that welcomed me as a “local” is truly grateful for our efforts. And I’m sure we can fill 2 more barrels this week….tarps, baby supplies, and hygiene items are the focus. Tarps can be “gently used,” as long as they are in good condition- just drop them in one of the blue containers. Other small necessities such as roofing screws, zip ties, and duct tape are vital for temporary shelters and repairs. Baby food, formula and diapers are also in high need.

Thank you, ArtSpace families and community, for your continued generosity!