In a recent article I wrote for Oklahoma Gazette, I learned a lot about the revitalization efforts of local elementary schools. Wilson Elementary is on one end of the spectrum " the parents, administration and community have worked hard for years to improve the school " Edgemere Elementary is at the other. The school is at the very beginning of its own revitalization effort, but the new principal, with the help of the community, is making the right steps.
Besides focusing on the basics to improve education in the school, Principal Dennis Gentry has also started working with the surrounding communities to create effective programs for the students.
One of those programs is PEEPS, which stands for the Paseo Edgemere Education Partnership Spectacular " I was told the "spectacular" could in no way be left off by my husband, who helped develop the program through Leadership Oklahoma City's LOYAL program. PEEPS links the artists of the nearby Paseo Arts District with Edgemere students.
Unlike Wilson, which has a dedicated art teacher, Edgemere shares an art teacher with other district schools, so the kids don't get a ton of contact with the arts. Gentry said the PEEPS program is only open to those who have good grades, attendance and behavior, and the students must be nominated by a teacher. So far, the K-2 classes have been full and the 3-6 classes have been almost at capacity.
The students meet four days a week after school for an hour with different Paseo artists to create works of art in different mediums. For a lot of these kids, this may be their first creative outlet, and who knows, maybe we'll see one of their own works on display in the Paseo in a few years thanks to PEEPS.