UHCL’s Art School for Children moves full STEAM ahead

September 7, 2017 | Katherine Adams

UHCL’s Art School for Children moves full STEAM ahead

It’s a year of both major milestones and new beginnings for University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Art School for Children. The popular children’s art education program is celebrating its 40th year of enriching the arts landscape for young artists in the community, and it is welcoming a new director and lifelong Hawk, David Moya, to chart the program’s flight into its next phase.

Moya, who received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UH-Clear Lake, said that he had worked at the Art School for Children as a teacher and fell in love with the community and with the freedom he had to express himself creatively within the school’s curriculum. “I loved the flexibility I had when I was a student here, working on my courses, and I will have that even now as director of the Art School for Children. It’s very appealing to me,” he said.

Currently, Moya is working toward his doctorate in curriculum and instruction at UH-Clear Lake. “I applied to other schools for my degrees, but I always felt that the best opportunities were here at UHCL for me,” he said.

As he begins his tenure as director on Sept. 1, Moya said that the 40th year anniversary of the Art School for Children was cause for celebration. “The program has meant a great deal for so many in this community, including myself,” he said. “It’s one of the reasons I chose to make my career in art education.”

The Art School for Children’s history began when Professors Ellin Grossman and Mary Ann Boykin worked together to develop model curricula and teaching methods for diverse ages and learners. Then, after teaching with the Art School for 10 years, Lecturer Ann Waltz directed the program from 2005 till her retirement in 2017. What began in 1977 as a small program with 30 students has expanded to an annual enrollment of more than 1,200 students who take classes at UHCL, or after school in designated elementary schools in Clear Creek Independent School District, Friendswood ISD and certain private schools.

“It’s wonderful to meet parents who say they attended the Art School for Children when they were young, and now they’re bringing their own children,” he said. “It’s great to see generations of kids benefiting from the program.”

Sherry White, who teaches art at League City Intermediate School in Clear Creek ISD, is among those “generations” of kids. She has fond lifelong memories of her time as a young student artist, student art teacher, and ultimately, the mom of a budding young artist at the Art School. “I remember a sculpture I created at the Art School during elementary school. It was proudly displayed in our home,” she said. “Since that time, I always found myself searching out the arts, artists, and artistic endeavors.”

White added that upon returning to the Art School for Children’s afterschool program as a student teacher, she learned how to find structure in chaos from the most influential art teacher she had,  Boykin. “And now, I’m in my 29th year as an artist, educator, and art advocate,” she said.

“The one constant has been my connection to the UHCL Art School for Children’s afterschool program, and I made sure my own daughter experienced the same joy beginning at age four. No other program encompasses the historical elements, creative process, and student success demonstrated daily in the Art School for Children curriculum.”

Moya said that his vision for the new generations of Art School students would be to take classes that reflect his primary goal to make the curriculum more “STEAM”-oriented. “Everyone knows that STEM means science, technology, engineering and math,” Moya said. “I want to add that ‘A’—for the arts. STEM is a no-brainer for schools to teach students the importance of the sciences, but I would like to integrate the arts to keep this program vital. Incorporating ‘STEAM’ classes would set us apart and keep us innovative and progressive.”

Moya, who confesses to an infatuation with technology, said that one of his first big initiatives as director would be to find grants to fund the 3-D printers he hopes to provide for students. “It’s a step toward applying art and technology to solve real-world problems,” he said. “I’d like to teach kids to see the artistic vision in technology. It’s important to create art for the sake of art — so we’ll continue teaching the traditional ceramics, painting and sculpting classes. But I’m looking to create some hybrid classes that work between traditional art and 21st century technology. It’s a fascinating place to be as an art educator right now.”

For more information or to register for a class in the Art School for Children, visit www.uhcl.edu/childrens-art-school