Art Matters

At Mount Madonna School (MMS), we believe that art is a crucial part of a well-rounded education. That’s why on any given week at MMS, the art studio bustles with activity from our young first graders all the way up to 12th grade.

Art teacher Angela Willetts equips students with both technical skills and passion for the visual arts. In a recent first grade class, Willetts led students in a lesson on proportion in self-portraiture.

“Your eyes right now are beautifully drawn, but you’ve got the top of your head very close to your eyes,” Willetts said, crouching next to a first-grade student who was working on a pencil sketch self-portrait. She handed the student a mirror and asked her to describe the proportion of her forehead to her eyes.

“Oh, my eyes are a lot lower than I thought,” the student said. She held her pencil loosely and halfway up, as Willetts instructed, and began to make new lines on her self-portrait. Willetts, meanwhile, walked around the room offering specific feedback to students, who were deeply focused on their work.

Some weeks second graders might explore gel printing, sixth graders might learn about negative space in abstract art and high schoolers may work on their digital art portfolio or brush up on their photography skills.

“The art studio is one of the best places to practice thinking skills: problem solving, critical thinking, reflection and iteration, envisioning and planning, flexibility and persistence, stretching beyond one’s comfort zone and, of course, expression,” commented Willetts.

Starting in first grade, every MMS student attends a weekly class in the art studio. As a school community, Mount Madonna strongly believes that art matters.

“Making art requires students to engage all of these skills as part of the creative process, and in doing so they build those muscles for use across other subjects,” added Willetts. “Art also matters because it holds, builds and reflects on culture. It challenges students to seek, find and create meaning in images – their own meanings and those of their culture.”

Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communications,

Nestled among the redwoods on 375 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a diverse learning community dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believe a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.


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