Early Childhood Art Show celebrates Suffolk’s youngest stars

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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SUFFOLK, Virginia – Saturday morning saw Suffolk Public Schools showcase their brightest early childhood stars within the school division. The school held their second Early Start and Early Childhood Art Show on Saturday, Feb. 24 at John Yeates Middle School with many parents and faculty members coming out to support their kids in their first steps into the world of art. During the show, SPS Coordinator of Fine and Performing Arts Dr. Joleen Neighbours detailed the importance of creative arts in helping children learn efficiently.

“Any study of the arts in general actually improves learning. We know from research that students perform over 80 percent better on any type of testing. Students that go on to major in music and theater and art typically are up in the 100 percentile of being accepted into medical school and into law school, because of the thinking that is required and the discipline and a lot of people don’t fully understand the discipline that’s also required to being creative,” Neighbours said. “Because you can be talented and creative, but if you don’t have the discipline and the passion, it doesn’t go anywhere.”

The show displayed various drawings and crafts made by the students, with Neighbours praising the kids for making pinch pots.

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“They made little clay bowls! And they’re three years old! And so that’s a skill in of itself because that’s going to translate to using a pen, to using a pencil, all of these different things,” she said. “They really learn to communicate, to be creative – it just brings everything together.”

Also in attendance was SPS Early Childhood Instructional Coach Beth Whitworth, who provided details on the overall Early Childhood Early Start program noting that it’s for four year old Suffolk children aiming to help give an extra boost before Kindergarten.

“So it’s to help with all of those early skills, social emotional development, academics, get them used to the school routine and it’s about laying that really strong foundation to help them really enjoy and want to be a part of school,” Whitworth said.

Whitworth talked about the process for the Early Childhood and Early Start Art Show, noting that the teachers were “very excited” to have a lot of time to prepare.

“Each student has two pieces of art. They did a self portrait and another piece of art for all the Early Start and ECSE classrooms in Suffolk Public Schools, and they’re all really excited,” Whitworth said. “They’re so unique, our early start teachers and ECSE teachers are the most dedicated, loving, supportive of their students and so they’re so excited to be able to share all their creativity…”

Both talked about how much it meant to seeing the kids and their parents seeing their displayed art with Whitworth expressing her excitement for the event.

“Oh I’m just so happy, I’ve been so excited to see the students because I travel to all the different schools,” she said. 

Neighbours followed up noting how so many of the kids knew Whitworth and were happy to see her. She also expressed how being a part of the show will be a part of their overall lives.

“Whether they remember this at this age or not, this is going to become part of their muscle memory, part of who they are. That they were valued, that their work was creative, that they are encouraged to express themselves and that’s a big piece of it,” Neighbours said. “I love it. I love the fact that the community is a big part of this.”