April 4 - August 4, 2013
Overby-SheppART celebrates the creativity of children in an after-school art program at Overby-Sheppard Elementary School and the work of three University of Richmond volunteers. What began as a class project evolved into an ongoing commitment to the school by Richmond students with a passion for art education.
In the Sophomore Scholars in Residence (SSIR) program, sophomores with shared interests immerse themselves in an academic topic during a year in which they live, study, and travel together. During the 2011-12 school year, Carlyn Covington ‘14, Hilary Rushton, ’14, and Ellen Wright, ’14, enrolled in the Children and Their Worlds SSIR course, led by Dr. B. Rick Mayes and Dr. Catherine Bagwell. A spring capstone project gave the students the opportunity to work together, explore their mutual interest in education and art, and develop a six-week after-school art program at Overby-Sheppard Elementary, a partner of the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement’s Build It initiative. Build It, the University of Richmond’s neighborhood-based civic-engagement program, brings the University’s resources and volunteers together with residents and organizations in Highland Park to work toward neighborhood revitalization and community development.
Developed in the 1890s at the end of a trolley line, Highland Park became one of Richmond’s first suburbs and was characterized by large houses and a vibrant business community. The
neighborhood began to decline in the late 1940s, due in part to white flight and local, state, and federal policies that supported the concentration of poverty in Richmond’s northeast quadrant. In recent years, however, the city government, residents, and nonprofits have been working to revitalize Highland Park.
Overby-Sheppard Elementary, a Richmond public school, opened its doors in 1976 and today educates 446 preschool through fifth-grade children in the Highland Park neighborhood. The school was named for Ethel Thompson Overby, one of the first African-American principals in the city of Richmond, and Eleanor Parker Sheppard, the first female mayor of the city of Richmond.
Overby-SheppART speaks to a broader conversation in Richmond around incorporating arts into the curriculum. The Richmond School Board is considering incorporating STEAM pedagogy into
Overby-Sheppard’s curriculum. STEAM highlights science and technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics. This is the third year that Overby-SheppART has been offered in the spring semester. Hilary Rushton, ’14, and Ellen Wright, ’14, lead the children in art projects every Monday afternoon, and we proudly display the student work in this special exhibition.