Eye On Education: Gardner Museum Takes Teens Beyond The Classroom

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – “There’s something about the courtyard and everything around it. It’s just beautiful.”

Damaris Calderon’s face lights up when she talks about the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

It’s a place she never even knew existed two years ago and now it’s a place of learning and inspiration thanks to the school partnership program.

“The idea that we could work in depth with students and see them more than once was such an amazing opportunity,” says Peggy Burchenal, the museum’s curator of Education and Public Programs.

This is not just a one-time field trip.

The Gardner invites 5 neighborhood schools, all within walking distance of the iconic Boston museum, to visit several times throughout the school year.

The students take part in art projects and group discussions on the exhibits.

"Teens Behind The Scenes" at the Gardner Museum. (WBZ-TV)

“Teens Behind The Scenes” at the Gardner Museum. (WBZ-TV)

“So they really get a feeling that the Gardner is home,” says Burchenal.

“When the partnership was introduced to me it really sparked my interest,” Calderon told WBZ-TV. And that spark led to a job.

Now a high school senior, she and a handful of other students are part of a different program called “Teens Behind The Scenes.”

The students are paid to learn about the exhibits, work with the museum staff, and plan and lead museum events.

This immersion into art at such a young age could create the museum visitors of the futures.

And it’s a vision that has clearly connected with Calderon.

“I had no interest in art before. I thought it was too complicated. It’s great but I thought it wasn’t for me. Now its like ‘Wow!'”

If you have a story you think should be featured in our “Eye on Education series let us know about it. Email us at eyeoneducation@cbs.com, or send Paula a tweet @PaulaEbbenWBZ.

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