When it comes to school and her job, Julie Haas-Wajadowicz is all about the three R's -- as in reduce, reuse and recycle.
Now, she's combining her love of earth-friendly habits with art skills for Antioch Charter Academy students.
Haas-Wajadowicz has been working with R.C. Ferris for several years, and the two have been "trying to figure out how to use her reuse art (talents to teach)." Haas-Wajadowicz is Antioch's environmental resource coordinator and Ferris is a recycling coordinator with Allied Waste.
Since last spring, the pair have been teaching fourth- to eighth-graders in an arts elective class.
"We didn't want just any plain old arts & crafts. We'd teach it if it was 'reuse art'," Haas-Wajadowicz said.
She said the pair started with projects Ferris has used in her nonprofit Generation Green's Dumpster Diversion Project.
"Since then we have been adding projects we both wanted to do or based on the materials available."
Although this class is new, Haas-Wajadowicz has been doing this for nearly 10 years while Ferris has been immersed in it for two decades.
So far, the weekly class at ACA has included rain sticks, CD fish, bottle-cap snakes, milk jug skeletons, fusing plastic bags together and much more.
A most recent project included repurposing old crayons.
"That was tricky for an actual art lesson," she said. Students melted the crayons and "let them drip onto the canvas or they (laid) it flat and watched the colors swirl as they melted."
Aside from actual art, lessons include explaining materials' origins and "mostly just teaching them to think about what they can do with something once its original use is over."
Haas-Wajadowicz and Ferris are pleased. "The students really love the class. They are really excited about their works of art."
The Antioch resident hopes to make this class available to all Antioch schools. "We can do guest appearances now, but a full district role requires grant funding and a dedicated staff person. I am currently searching for funding." For now -- and the future -- the two hope to "inspire others to bring this into their classrooms." Ferris can provide a few reuse art in a box activities to teachers and group leaders.
"We would like to expand that further and hope to develop more of these," Haas-Wajadowicz said.
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