Arts Attack Art Instruction Programs – Marcia Osterink’s Classroom Success

4615 Rancho Reposo
Del Mar, CA 92014

by Michael Leppert

In the Art Instruction field, very few (if any) programs shine the way Arts Attack’s four product offerings do:  Arts Attack (for the classroom), Art in the Afternoon (for after-school), Art Connections Series (for enrichment), and Atelier Homeschool Art (for home educators) are exemplary products in teaching students the wonderful world of art in all of its facets.

Marcia Osterink, creator and still-overseer of the Arts Attack group of products began her career at Michigan State, where she was an Education Major and an Art Minor (lacking 3 credits of an Art Major).  After Michigan State, Marcia taught in the classroom for four years, one in Michigan and three in San Carlos, (Bay Area) California. She taught art in summer school and began formulating what would become Arts Attack, although she did not know it at the time. Even then, she was organizing her lessons by art principles – color, line, etc. Once her family began, Marcia retired from the classroom, but continued teaching art lessons privately, both took and taught art classes at the local community college and created her own art, specializing in watercolor portraits of children.

After California’s Prop 13 was passed, her youngest son’s school district began to decrease all of its arts offerings – music as well as fine art. As a parent with an art background, Marcia decided to develop a parent-volunteer program (called Arts in Action) for the schools in Mountain View, (Silicon Valley).  This began with five parents who were art teachers, and it began in one school but, with the strong backing of the Superintendent, soon went district wide.  Today, Marcia tells teachers that they need the top people on board – superintendents and principals — to make art instruction viable.  Arts in Action was a community effort and the teachers were volunteers. In its second year, it won the California School Board Association’s Golden Bell Award as the outstanding fine arts program in California. That validated the program, putting the Board’s stamp of approval on it, and made it really take off.

Shortly thereafter, Marcia and her family relocated to the San Diego area. She did some art consulting for the San Diego City Schools and was a teacher trainer for art instruction. While she was teaching these teacher workshops, she got the idea to create what became Arts Attack. It was originally a teacher training program on video.  She set up a classroom studio in her garage and local kids were coming in to take all of the classes. They were videotaping the kids doing the lessons and they realized it was a teaching tool – not a training tool! So the students get the message by watching the kids on the video do the lessons.

About five years ago, Marcia decided that it was time to re-film all of the lessons and products in high-definition to make it more up-to-date. 162 lessons had to be re-shot, new material added and then edited. It was a huge project, but the new products are available online and the video can be streamed from the Arts Attack website. It also has features like a “movie title” type vocabulary function when a hard or new word is introduced in the audio. For instance “Impressionism” and the word and its definition show on the screen. The new version also has a few more lessons.  Marcia states that it has been very well-received — people are more tech-savvy now. Teachers have screens or large electronic white boards in their classrooms and that is how the program can be displayed. It is a vast improvement.

Marcia feels that everyone can benefit from a study of art, even those who have been told they have no artistic talent. She has recently seen special needs children in mainstream classes that benefit well from the art lessons, because it is a right-brain activity and that is where their strengths lie. This is a tremendous builder of self-confidence.  She hopes that art education in public and private schools, after school programs, and homeschooling will accelerate as educators and parents realize that strong right-brain fine arts programs will develop and foster creativity and will improve performance in all academic subjects and throughout life.

Finally, Marcia states that the rewards she has received have been great. She has numerous stories of how art changes lives and how kids in her experience completely turned around because of art – socially, emotionally, and intellectually; that is the most rewarding thing. Many teachers and parents have had a similar experience and have told her similar stories. Nothing is more satisfying than that.  If you want to see just what one of Arts Attack’s four programs can do for your students, visit the website, and spend some time there. MjL

Author: Michael Leppert

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