Sustaining Art Education: Philadelphia schools gets an eco-friendly update

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Photo by Deva Watson When art teacher Deva Watson toured her new classroom at the Southwest Leadership Academy, she was disappointed to see it in shambles. The room looked more like a storage closert and paint was peeling off the walls. So, Watson decided to renovate the room.

With little resources or funding, Watson partnered with Greensaw, a local green design and construction company, who created a design plan and donated their time. Additional funding for materials and expenses came from The Rotary Club of Philadelphia, fundraising events and an Indiegogo campaign—a crowd-funding site similar to Kickstarter.  

The project was completed in August, just in time for school to start. Renovations included new tables, shelving and cabinets, a back storage room, electrical set up for future technologies, and laminate and waterproof surfaces. Most of the renovations were made with wood donated by Provenance, Fessenden Hall and Greensaw.

Watson is excited about the new classroom and feels it achieves her ultimate goal: to provide kids an acceptable learning environment that can inspire them to learn. “I hope the story will show other art teachers that it’s still valuable,” e-mailed Watson. “If one school and company can make a difference, maybe others can as well.”