Pittsburgh Assistance Center for Educators and Students
"The Encounters Project was an educational experience unlike anything I have experienced thus far at the University of Pittsburgh. Rather than lecture-based learning, we spent several hours a week practically learning by experience. For me, this was an incredible opportunity to practice “real-world” professionalism and make a difference in the lives of high school students from my home district, Pittsburgh Public Schools. There was far more individualized attention from instructors over the course of this research project than I have ever experienced at Pitt. The ability to meet one on one with instructors to discuss any difficulties I might be having in the class was incredible. I felt that my individual needs and challenges were noted and addressed by each Encounters instructor in a way that has helped me grow professionally over the course of my sophomore semester. In addition, this was a wonderful opportunity for me to learn about the SciTech students’ home communities and watch their art reflect their attitudes towards their communities. More than anything, the Encounters learning experience, combined with my experience in Strong Women Strong Girls mentoring, has taught me how my role as a Pitt student in the Pittsburgh community is to support and inspire younger generations in the Pittsburgh region through outreach programs. The Encounters gallery exhibition has allowed me to raise awareness for this cause. It is a rare opportunity to foster young artists and guide them through the artistic process, and I feel privileged to say that I have had the chance to do this."
"The Encounters program was a great opportunity in many ways. It helped me to not only realize my strengths and weaknesses, but also gave me the opportunity to participate in what could be described as a “real-world experience.” The out-of-the-classroom approach did not sugarcoat the learning process, but rather provided a realistic environment that has helped me to realize what joining the professional workforce will be like. I have learned a lot about Pittsburgh in this program. I felt like I could actually partake in something that REALLY impacted the community through the students. I think that programs like this are essential for college students to realize they share this area with such a diverse range of people. I feel that my role as a Pitt student in this community is to promote a positive attitude, positive actions, and to show young people that working hard and maintaining an unselfish, humble, and positive attitude CAN bring you far. I hope this exhibition gets people in Pittsburgh to see the positive interactions that can occur through art."
The following undergraduate students led the "Encounters: Art in the City" activity and worked to prepare the corresponding exhibition.
Danny Augenbraun is in his fourth year at the University of Pittsburgh. He is pursuing a history of art and architecture major and a studio arts minor. Danny is primarily interested in contemporary art and has always been intrigued by public art, specifically street art and murals. He saw the "Encounters" program as an opportunity to spread his love of art. When he isn’t deeply engaged with his academic studies, Danny enjoys spending his time solving difficult crossword puzzles, running, and eating pizza.
Danny reflects on the "Encounters" program and experience:
Lauren Burgess is a Senior at the University of Pittsburgh. She is a double major in communication rhetoric and history of art and architecture with a studio arts minor. She has been actively involved on campus and in the Pittsburgh community through the Pitt Dance Ensemble, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and the Pitt Ballet Club. Performance, site specificity, and audience reception have always intrigued Lauren about art and she is excited to explore these concepts with the SciTech students!
Lauren reflects on the "Encounters" program and experience:
Cyrille Froncek is a sophomore history of art and architecture major at the University of Pittsburgh. She hails from Squirrel Hill and graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School in 2012. As a recipient of the Pittsburgh Promise, Cyrille is excited to return to Pittsburgh Public Schools and work with the future scholar recipients of tomorrow. She looks forward to meeting all of the SciTech students and learning about art around the Oakland community.
Cyrille reflects on the "Encounters" program and experience:
Originally from Rhode Island, Grace is now a junior at the University of Pittsburgh and is studying art history. As such, she is interested in Latin American art, particularly how it is represented in international art institutions, and how museums create and export national identities. She is a closet Pens fan (if Bruins fans ever found out…) and loves running through Schenley Park, watching European soccer, green smoothies, and cooking an array of exotic dishes. Grace has traveled to Argentina and Uruguay to study art, and is hoping to learn Portuguese and eventually make it to Brazil. She looks forward to working with the students at the Pittsburgh Science & Technology Academy and discussing how math and science can interact with artistic production and methodology.
Grace reflects on the "Encounters" program and experience:
Joanna Kemp is currently a senior at the University of Pittsburgh and will graduate in the spring with a major in history of art and architecture and a minor in museum studies. She was born and raised in Pittsburgh and graduated from Keystone Oaks High School in 2010. Last spring, Joanna interned with the University Art Gallery, assisting with their educational programming and community outreach. This summer, she began working at the Andy Warhol Museum where she has learned about Pop Art and the role of museums in our lives. After graduation, Joanna will be pursuing a masters degree in either business administration or museum studies and hopes to some day work in the arts education sphere.
Joanna Grace reflects on the "Encounters" program and experience:
"This course made explicitly clear the intensive amount of work both in and outside the classroom needed to be an effective teacher. A public school teacher does far more than lecture and grade student work. Their responsibilities are to student learning, tracking and showing student learning, student safety, and developing rapport with the students to enable all these things to happen. Oakland has far more community diversity than I initially thought. Often times I, as a Pitt student, did not consider the non-university related members of the Oakland community to be an active part of it. Yet there are many non-Pitt people working, going to school, and living in Oakland. As a Pitt student I now feel a greater responsibility for the well-being of the Oakland community, not just the University of Pittsburgh student community."
"This class was entirely different than any other class I have experienced at Pitt. Because of this, I do feel like this program has enhanced my overall experience as a university student. I felt significantly less bored with my other classes this semester than I have previously. This is mainly due to the fact that Encounters kept throwing new challenges at me, always forcing me to respond and react in creative and innovative ways. This definitely rubs off on my other classes. I found myself transferring some of the organizational, communication, and planning skills that I developed because of Encounters to my other classes. Teaching is hard. I think I’ve always sort of assumed this, but I never got to experience it until Encounters. This program has taught me a lot about community. Whether it be planting trees, painting a mural, or volunteering at a high school, it is important for Pitt students to do more than just use their city, but also contribute somehow. I hope the exhibition will teach the members of the Pitt community about the high school that is smack dab in the middle of their campus and show them the value of understanding their city as a whole."
COPYRIGHT 2013. PITTSBURGH ASSISTANCE CENTER FOR EDUCATORS AND STUDENTS, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
"I feel this project was the most rewarding academic experience I have had at Pitt. I definitely felt as though I was making a small but important difference in the lives of the students who participated in the program. My involvement in this class has been very influential for where I see myself after undergrad. I have been seriously considering starting a graduate program in education, possibly in educational reform and theory. I have always been interested in the many different ways of teaching/learning that extend beyond the classroom and museums. This program has allowed me to explore these avenues and see how a discipline that is reserved for university study can be transformed into something meaningful for students in high school. I honestly think this program is just one way people from outside of the school district or the administration can provide opportunities that support teachers in new and innovative ways."