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Full Circle at the Gamble House

Full Circle at the Gamble House

During the graduation of the new group of Jr. Docents at the Gamble House, a partner for the 3rd grade students, we learned that all of these high school students had been through the My Masterpieces Program as third graders, and now would have a chance to share their knowledge about this historic landmark. These 35 students are part of the GATE Program volunteering during the school day giving tours to the current third grade students.

One of the signature programs of the Pasadena Education Foundation, My Masterpieces: Discovering Art in My Community, started in 2007 as a pilot program serving a few hundred students. Today this program serves 9,000 students and engages 400 teachers in the Altadena, Pasadena, and Sierra Madre schools throughout the Pasadena Unified School District.

Learning that the students that participated in third grade in the My Masterpieces Program are now leading the tours for current third graders is really amazing to see that the program has come full circle. You have to wonder how this will influence their course of study in higher education and their choice in their professional pursuits. Perhaps some of these students will one day become architects or engineers. If nothing else, hopefully these students have learned a love of learning that will continue to inspire them throughout their life.

My Masterpieces: Discovering Art in My Community

This art program was jointly developed by Pasadena Unified teachers and 10 local museums and arts organizations, offering both classroom instructions with instructional field trips.  As students matriculate through elementary school they get to know all of the arts resources in their community. Each grade level offers a unique experience that is tied to the standards for the grade level.

The third grade component offers 2 partnerships, one with The Gamble House and another with Side Street Projects. Students receive a guided tour, as well as a hands-on woodworking workshop at their school. The students that traditionally have a hard time understanding math concepts excel in the woodworking component, due to the hands on application of fractions, measurements, and basic arithmetic. For other students, adding those design components that they have hand crafted allows them to slow down and enjoy their work. This can create a positive educational experience for the students, which is what leads to a life-long learner.

Having a hands on woodworking experience gives the students a deeper appreciation of the craftsmanship and labor that went into building and designing the Gamble House. Students engage with math and science standards on the tour and in-classroom instruction. The students also get to use the same type of hand tools in their woodworking workshop that the fabricators of the Gamble House used, which is truly bringing history to life.

Next, when students see the Gamble House in person and learn about how it was made, they are able to make deeper connections. The field trip that the Jr. Docents lead also connects these students to the place they live, and encourages pride in their hometown and community engagement.

By Jamie Powell
Program Manager
Pasadena Educational Foundation