What happens when you ask alumni and students how SOTA, SAMI, and IDEA have challenged their thinking? 

They mention a myriad of transformative experiences- internships, senior projects, service and study tours, in-class projects, and navigating the streets of downtown Tacoma and the trails of Pt. Defiance Park. They mention the many forms that thinking might take- creative thinking, problem solving, critical thinking, introspection, mindfulness. But mostly they talk about the kind of internal transformation that occurs when you participate in an innovative educational community. They tell you how attending SOTA, SAMI, or IDEA allowed them to pursue their dreams, connect more effectively with others, engage their creativity, and find rest. Two of the stories are below, the rest will be featured throughout the spring as part of Artrageous 2017.
 
This year, we are celebrating Thinking at Artrageous, our annual auction, on April 29 at 5pm at Hotel Murano. It’s a time to get together, celebrate what we’ve accomplished as a community, and renew our commitment for the coming year. There are four ways you can participate in this year’s event:

Buy tickets or host a table
Corporate Sponsorship
Friends of Elements Matching Challenge
Donate an Item or Experience
Thank you for your continued support of innovative education in our community.

Best,


Liz Hirschl, SOTA '06
Development Director
Elements of Education Partners

The three Partner Schools are currently in miniterm, a time to pause from our regular curriculum and focus on educational projects. Laurie Fisher Woodward and Mary Mann are teaching a class called Creative Inspiration that uses Point Defiance Park as a launching point for art and writing. Their course requires students to think in a number of ways: peaceful walks in the park and a session on art journaling teach mindfulness, several sessions with the park historian and a short story incorporating that history encourage creative thinking, and creating a public art piece requires students to think carefully about what is best fitting for the piece's location and purpose. They also visited the exhibit Colored, which is the creation of SOTA alumni Chris Jordan ('08)*. Both Fisher and Mann commented that it's been great to interact with the students in a different way- the students are more relaxed and are really open to learning in a completely different way. Below are some photos of the class as well as some quotes from students about their experiences.

*much could be said about Colored because it's amazing, but it's better to see it. Go visit. And check out #colored2017 on facebook and instagram. You can also read more about it in this great article from the Tacoma News Tribune.

"There are no artist statements [in the Colored exhibit] because it takes away the responsibility of thinking about the art for yourself" - Chris Jordan SOTA '08

Mary Mann, showing off the paintings based on foliage found during one of the walks in Point Defiance.

Mary Mann, showing off the paintings based on foliage found during one of the walks in Point Defiance.

Laurie Fisher Woodward looking at the Colored exhibit with students.

Laurie Fisher Woodward looking at the Colored exhibit with students.

“It’s been good to learn to go on walks and take inspiration from the park […] going out and seeing the world is better than waiting for inspiration" - Jenna, IDEA '20

Keiarra (SOTA '19) examining the murals of Colored.

Keiarra (SOTA '19) examining the murals of Colored.

“[Creative Inspiration has] made me notice how others do their art- I just go for it […] other people are more precise. It's made me realize how you can do things differently" - Keiarra, SOTA '19

An art journal, part of the mindfulness curriculum

An art journal, part of the mindfulness curriculum

Students working on various art projects.

Students working on various art projects.

Students talking with Chris Jordan (SOTA '08) about the exhibit Colored.

Students talking with Chris Jordan (SOTA '08) about the exhibit Colored.

"I don't need to understand things in order to be impacted by them. Make room for your non-understanding. [Travel made me realize] we [need to] embrace the things we don't understand and embrace the perspectives of people that are different from us" - Chris Jordan SOTA '08

Artistic prints hanging in SAMI's Portable D.

Artistic prints hanging in SAMI's Portable D.

"[Creative Inspiration has] made me think more outside the box and look at things differently […] how to put emotions into art and let go" - Maddie Feeney SAMI '18

Jenna (IDEA '20) journaling about one of the pieces at Colored.

Jenna (IDEA '20) journaling about one of the pieces at Colored.

We often talk about thinking as one of four pillars that comprise our method, and Chelsey Scheffe's perspective on thinking incorporates empathy and compassion as well. Most people will talk about creative thinking or critical thinking, both of which are important. But Chelsey also finds value in examining how you think about those around you; “SOTA taught me to value connectedness with other humans which leads to open-heartedness, kindness, empathy, forgiveness, and eventually activism, solidarity, and sacrifice.” In this way, she remains intentionally flexible in how she thinks of others to create community and foster connectedness.

a gif Chelsey created for HTC's VR headset, Vive

a gif Chelsey created for HTC's VR headset, Vive

The process of thinking differently about others began her sophomore year at SOTA. She notes that the school helped her see the strengths of all her peers, and prevented her from putting other students in boxes. “The premise of SOTA helped me see that everyone was amazing at something, even if it wasn’t art. That’s special because it can take a long time to break out of that mindset. High schoolers are notoriously good at boxing each other and themselves in.”

Chelsey was first confronted by the need to think about her place in the world and how we interact with others when she went to China on a service and study tour. A large part of their work with students who didn't speak English. "There was a point where we were teaching other students that were around our age. Some of them were pretty good at English, but learning how to communicate was still a challenge. We played games with them which allowed us to be on the same plane, revealing our similarities. We were able to find friendship in common activities even though it seemed like we were so different. [It made me realize], ‘I guess I can be friends with anyone; I truly can connect with any human.’”

She’s says that the ability to think about others has continued in her life after high school, and it now makes sense to her why Thinking is one of our core pillars. “One of the values of the school is learning about how to be a human around other humans, thinking critically about why things are the way they are. Why do these thoughts and actions come to me naturally? Should I challenge those? You don’t just want to train people to be robots and follow the status quo. You want [students] to challenge the status quo and embrace their individuality.”

She’s now working as a graphic designer while also writing and playing music in her free time. It’s clear that she loves what she does and is talented and dedicated to her craft. But her real passion is other people. She says, “your own ambitions and dreams are not more important than the ability to connect and empathize with and help other people. Without human connection, we are lifeless.” Thinking may seem inherently internal and intellectual, but Chelsey’s critical examination of herself, her place in the world, and people around her, has led her outward into a world desperate for compassion. 

Pictured: four examples of Chelsey's graphic design work

Pictured: four examples of Chelsey's graphic design work