Arts Integration Menomonie is going outside of Menomonie — actually outside of the country — to bring new art experiences to children in the Menomonie school district.

This fall, AIM is hosting PAINT International on Saturdays at the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts. PAINT stands for Program for Arts Integration for New Teachers.

Each Saturday morning, local children from kindergarten through fifth grade create art under the direction of two University of Wisconsin-Stout art education students, Molly Brion, of Cameron, and Gabrielle Conway, of Rochester, Minn. UW-Stout alumni mentor the UW-Stout students.

During the sessions, the children connect via Skype with children in Letlhakeng, Botswana, Africa, who are working on the same art projects. The children renew friendships each week and compare their art.

Botswana is a nation of about 2 million people in southern Africa.

“Children in both areas of the world learn to make the same art projects while making friends with one another,” said Tami Weiss, executive director for AIM and program director for art education at UW-Stout. “This is an amazing project.”

The children in Botswana connect with those in Menomonie via the Peace Corps in Botswana. The Peace Corps worker, Kirstin Benish, is a former student of Weiss’ when Weiss taught at La Crescent High School in La Crescent, Minn.

The free PAINT International program began in September and continues through Saturday, Dec. 10. The classes are full with 25 students.

“It’s a very big step for the PAINT program and a really exciting opportunity for our UW-Stout students as well as our children in the area,” said Megan Steinkraus, PAINT coordinator, a UW-Stout alumna and Menomonie elementary school art teacher.

AIM is a grant-funded program involving UW-Stout’s School of Education, the Menomonie school district and the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts.

The PAINT program within AIM provides UW-Stout students in art education and early childhood education supervised teaching experience while earning a stipend.

For more information on AIM, go to www.artsintegrationmenomonie.org.

Fall PAINT interns

Along with Brion and Conway, UW-Stout has 11 students in PAINT this fall working with programs and schools throughout Menomonie. The other students, their majors and programs they’re involved with are:

Jump Start After School, at River Heights school, arts and crafts: Sidney Dombrowski, of Amherst Junction, art education; Brittney Hanson, of Ladysmith, early childhood education

River Heights school, art around the world: Miranda Torres, of Plainview, Minn., ECE; Samantha Cromer, of Cannon Falls, Minn., ECE

Rocky’s K-2, at the Leisure Services Center, arts and crafts: Brooke Wadzinski, of Inver Grove Heights, Minn., art education

Dunn County Jail, creative movement, dance, watercolor painting: Megan Becker, of Pewaukee, art education; Paige McDowell, of Minneapolis, ECE

Thursday Thrill Seekers, at the Leisure Services Center, arts and crafts: Kylee Blumer, of Albany, art education; Hannah Saphner, of La Crosse, art education

Ms. Johnson’s Wakanda Wall-stars, Wakanda Mosaic Murals class: Marko Pechnik, of Janesville, art education; Olivia Revolinski, of Oshkosh, art education

Dombrowki is excited to have a supervised teaching experience as a freshman. “As a future teacher this internship means that I will be ahead of the game and that I’ll feel more comfortable in the classroom because it will feel natural by the time I’m certified,” she said.

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Dunn County News editor

Barbara Lyon is the editor of The Dunn County News in Menomonie, WI.

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