Volunteer of the Year

Most people have heard the name Laurie Shreve, but many have not personally met her. And while most people associate her name with Art Smart, they may not know what Art Smart is or how it has impacted students at VRA. This article will provide some insight as we honor our May volunteer of the month, Laurie Shreve.

Before VRA opened, Laurie's children, now in grades 3 and 5, attended Ocean Palms Elementary School. This school had an art program called CAAP. When VRA opened, Laurie knew she wanted to bring an art program to the school, focusing on the strengths of CAAP, while enhancing what she thought were its weaknesses.

Laurie created the program Art Smart in such a way that the volunteer had everything needed for use in the classroom. She developed lesson plans, purchased and delivered the supplies, and picked up leftover items. There were ten classes the first year, but since then the program has grown — first to 30 classes and now 58 classes in grades pre-k to grade 5. That's about 1,000 children participating in Art Smart!

Laurie knew she wanted to make the program user friendly, for both volunteers and children to achieve the maximum benefit. She made Art Smart web-based so anyone could access the website to sign up to volunteer and download the lesson plans for classroom use. Laurie purchases and delivers all supplies needed directly to the classroom and then picks up any unused items.

There is one lesson per month. It is completed during the Art Smart lesson so children learn, complete an activity and have something to take home. Laurie has been so excited to witness the growth of this program and she is excited that family members can participate in their child's learning about art. Some volunteers may feel "I know nothing about art, so how could I possibly teach/volunteer in this program?" But the beautiful thing with the way Laurie has set up Art Smart is that you just download the lesson plans, read them and teach. Everything else is provided for you!

Laurie loves the reactions of the children when she walks down the halls. They get so excited and often ask, "Is that stuff for us?" The best part of the program is watching children open up and express themselves through art. Laurie lets them know there is no right or wrong in art but it is what comes from within them. She is grateful for all the volunteers who have made this program such a huge success. Laurie is also grateful to the art teachers, Ms. Frericks and Ms. Bayliss, for helping to align Art Smart with art requirements.

VRA would like to thank Laurie and all those who have helped her. We are grateful for the enrichment it brings to our students.

At VRA, we can't say “thank you” enough to Laurie and the other volunteers. They enhance our school community and we are truly grateful.

Our Principal Ms. McMandon

Click here to read her bio.







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