Established in 1854, Norwich Free Academy includes in its mission: “[to] study all that is beautiful in nature and art, and [be] prepared for the highest usefulness and the purest happiness.” Fund for Teachers Fellow Sarah Lefrancois fulfilled that mission and more with her 2022 fellowship.
After retracing the footsteps/work of Ansel Adams in and around Yosemite Park to learn about landscape photography and advocacy, she planned on inspiring a student art show documenting their local landscapes. But her community and colleagues envisioned greater vistas.
See Sarah’s post-fellowship report and photos here.
After completing my fellowship to Yosemite, I sat down with the head of the Norwich Free Academy Foundation, Kathy McCarthy, who is an amazing support of our students and teachers. She mentioned that the Class of 1968 donated money to establish a small gallery called “The Cube” in the Atrium located near the entrance of our on-campus museum and that my project fit well into their original vision for that space.
I began to think about what to put in there – because 2D work just isn’t shown well in the space – and started to reach out to local museums and agencies to see if they had any taxidermy that they could share. I started thinking about the Museum of Natural History dioramas but realized that creating something that looked realistic would be time consuming and stressful.
In talking with my can-do colleagues at lunch one day, we started to throw around the idea of how we could work together to produce such a display. They jumped right in, excited to be part of such a project. These women are amazing, and it felt so good to include three other people in with my fellowship project.
My photo of our local park was printed and attached to the wall in the background. The unified clay class, in partner with my photography class, worked to make pinch pot mushrooms and giant mushrooms, rocks, and a stump out of plaster of paris. The unified arts class worked on making blades of grass out of cardboard and birds.
The Advanced Jewelry and Metals class worked on making whatever their hearts desired when they saw the display put together! One student donated a pin tailed duck mount to be hung, and my boyfriend, who is a graduate of NFA and a Environmental Conservation Officer with the State of Connecticut loaned us his coyote mount to be the central focus. I worked on the birch trees and vines as well as collecting leaves and brush 🙂
The display in The Cube is bright, eye catching, and engaging. Students ask so many questions about what is inside of it and who made everything. It is a wonderful welcome to our gymnasiums and the museum. It helps guide people to view the series of photographs on display in the upper level of the building!
Thank you so much. This opportunity afforded to me [through Fund for Teachers] has been not only transformative to my teaching practice, but also the lives of my students as we learned together about the importance of publicly held lands for our wellbeing and our civic duty to protect them!