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Administrator’s Corner: Author conferences in a new way

Administrator’s Corner by Gayle Brownlow

Gayle Brownlow

Albert Lea Area Schools has found a unique way to provide a creative outlet for our students. Due to the pandemic, we were not able to send our students to a Young Authors Young Artists Conference in Rochester. Instead, we hosted our first Creative Youth Conference virtually. Selected students in third, fourth and fifth grades had the opportunity to work with artists and writers in other parts of the state. Four of our presenters belong to the COMPAS organization, which also provides visiting teaching artists to schools. Through COMPAS, we were able to have our students work with musician Mike Arturi, storyteller Beverly Cottman, poet Marie Olofsdotter and mandala artist Shakun Maheshwari. Local artist Kelly Gau also worked with our students to guide them through making a collage.

The 75 students participating in the conference received all the supplies they needed and were able to work at home while connecting with the artists through virtual meetings. This activity is made possible through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund. In addition, we appreciate the generous support of Mayo Clinic Health System for donating to this event. The change to a local event allowed us to provide the opportunity for more students to attend. We hope to continue offering this event in future years.

Gayle Brownlow is gifted and talented coordinator.