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Shaler, Seneca Valley teachers to promote museum-based learning

| Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
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Jade Leung
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Jason Schorr
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Michael Penn

Staff at the Carnegie Museum of Art are tapping into talent from around the area to establish a new teacher advisory board that will help promote and provide resources for museum-based learning.

Locally, teachers Jade Leung and Michael Penn from Shaler Area School District and Jason Schorr from Seneca Valley School District are among the 14 teachers on the board.

“We're really interested in interdisciplinary learning,” said Becky Utech Gaugler, assistant curator of education and programs for student and adult groups at the museum. “We're interested in the skills students develop in coming to an art museum. … We really like to hear from (teachers of) different subjects, where they see connections to their curriculums.”

Teachers on the advisory board will meet as necessary to work on projects that will provide museum resources to teachers and students. The resources will connect classroom curricula to the museum exhibits. The first meeting is this month.

The advisory board is funded through a grant from The Grable Foundation's 2013 Carnegie International and Beyond: Engaging Teachers and Students in Museum Based Learning effort.

Penn, a gifted and talented education teacher at Shaler Area Elementary and a science, technology, engineering, arts and music integrator, said he is excited to help promote learning through the museum's resources by participating on the advisory board.

“It's pretty cool to be part of some decision making to make a regional resource more accessible to kids,” Penn said. “If I can make some kid excited and interested in it by helping to present it a little differently, that's pretty cool.”

Leung, a science teacher at Shaler Area High School, previously served on an advisory board at the museum and said the experience changed how she teaches science.

She now has more of a focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and music, collectively known as STEAM.

“From a science standpoint, I hope to contribute input about how science and art can be connected,” Leung said. “People think of them as two separate curriculums.”

For example, Leung said the glazes in paintings can be explored from a chemistry standpoint, and visual design and abstract art can be tied into the study of physics.

Gaugler said it is unusual for two teachers from the same school district to be chosen for the same advisory board, but she credits the teachers' credentials and the home district's support of interdisciplinary study and outside programming.

“We have to find these school districts where teachers are supported in this type of programming, and Shaler is certainly one of them,” Gaugler said.

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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