That’s an invaluable lesson for teachers like Amanda Quaintance, who teaches social studies at Weston Middle School.
“I’m always keeping my eyes open to connect my students with the lands they are studying in a modern way,” Ms. Quaintance says. “I thought this was an ingenious idea. And when the students in Jordan got to see us holding their artwork, and we saw they were holding our artwork – across the world – it was just a magical moment.”
Steckler founded Creative Connections in 1992. More than 220 classrooms take part in ArtLink each year. This includes the classes participating in Rainforest ArtLink, which pairs US students with students in the rainforest regions of Latin America.
Steckler, an American, graduated from college in the United States, but got a job teaching in England, where he stayed for 11 years. Upon returning to the US, he says, he was surprised how insular his students seemed. After teaching at public and private US schools he studied for a master’s degree at Bank Street College in New York City.
But instead of teaching again, Steckler says, he wanted to develop a program where children around the world could meet as equals and have a real exchange.
For him, art proved to be the great equalizer. This is important for US children, who may have more material wealth than a student in Guatemala or somewhere in Africa, he says.
The American students learn about a different kind of "richness of their lives that’s pretty neat,” he says.