FALL 2017
Student Art Projects Celebrated by PNW BOCES Community  

Art teacher Jesse Steiner (in Groucho Marx disguise) holds the wheel while a student spins to see which tool he will use to paint.

When art teacher Jesse Steiner recently brought a few canvasses created during a schoolwide project to the Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES administrative building, he expected to hang up one or two. As staff members stopped to admire the work, however, he quickly realized he would need to bring back more canvases.    
"Everyone seemed to want to choose one to hang in their offices or the halls," he recalled. Steiner was struck by the staff's appreciation for the art and the process behind it - and by the strong feeling of community that stretches between the educational and administrative sides of PNW BOCES.
The canvasses that are now being added to the administrative building are certainly striking. What's even more striking is how they were created.
During a month of classes at the Pines Bridge and Walden schools, Steiner and teaching assistant Debra Canzio turned the process of creating art into a "game show" involving all students. Dressed like a game-show host, complete with a fake nose and glasses disguise, Steiner created an exciting atmosphere designed to engage his students.
Each week, students spun a wheel to choose a tool to add paint to a class canvas. The implements included traditional tools such as brushes and ones specially devised by Steiner, such as basketballs attached to rollers or catapults that launched cat toys dipped in paints across the room. As the project went on, the painting tools went from large brushes and rollers involving large-motor skills to smaller brushes and stamps that required more fine-motor skills. 
Introduced by Steiner as if they were guests in a show, the students all had moments in the limelight contributing to their class's canvas. They also spent time "in the audience" supporting their classmates.
"Regardless of the students' goals and needs, and their functional level, we were able to target our instruction to make it appropriate," Steiner said. The project challenged the students in many areas including motor skills planning, language and communication, attention to a task and appropriate participation in a group.
"The kids were having so much fun, however, they didn't perceive it as educational," Steiner noted. The fun atmosphere helped students feel more comfortable about picking up a tool and helping make a piece of artwork come alive.
Art teacher Jesse Steiner and teaching assistant Debra Canzio pose with some of the unusual tools students used to create abstract paintings.

"When they can be 'in the moment,' that's when the magic happens," he said. "They're not thinking about something that upset them earlier or a task they don't want to do later in the day."  

While Steiner and Canzio tweaked each week's activity to ensure that individual students were working on their educational goals, they also had a larger aim in mind.
"We wanted all of the students to feel a sense of pride in their creation," he said. "We wanted them to feel a sense of belonging, of being part of a community, and this is the type of project that helps create that feeling." 

Students at PNW BOCES Schools Enjoy a Special Halloween Event

Pines Bridge students parade from their school to the School Services Building where employees had a Willy Wonka inspired wonderland awaiting them.

Pines Bridge and Walden students went trick or treating on Halloween through a "Willy Wonka" themed candy factory created just for them at the School Services Building at Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES on Halloween.

Dressed as superheroes, princesses, clowns, butterflies and more, the students entered the building where they received a "golden ticket" and a treat bag from staff dressed up as characters from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  
The ticket was just the start of the magical outing. The students paraded through the School Services Building, whose halls, cubicles and offices had been decorated to look like every child's favorite candy factory. Staff cheered the students' costumes and gave out donated candy, treats and balloons. 

Fire Truck Visits 
Walden &  Pines Bridge

From left, Wesley Curtis, behavior management at Walis Luke Geocos; Alicia Mitchell; Ryan Gotto; Hannah Kachevsky; Benjamin Cerreno, and Jessica Wheeler.

A bright red fire truck pulling onto a school campus is usually cause for alarm. But not so, when Wes Curtis is in the driver's seat.
Curtis, a behavior management specialist at the Walden School and a nearly 40-year veteran of the Yorktown Fire Department, makes it his business to bring one of the department's pumper trucks to the Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES campus each fall so students at Walden and Pines Bridge Schools can get an up-close look.
This year's visit did not disappoint. Students from both schools were able to check out all of the equipment and controls, as Curtis explained how everything worked. A firefighter's helmet turned out to be a big hit, with many of the students trying it on for size.
Curtis has brought the truck to the BOCES campus for many years and strongly believes that every student should have the opportunity to see a fire truck up close. He said the best part of the annual visit was "seeing the kids smile."

Walden's Indoor Activity Center

Director of Special Education Shelley Fleischmann, physical education instructors Mike Watson and Bob Taps, teacher aide Liane Delgado and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Lynn Allen in the new Indoor Activity Center at Walden.

It's been a year since BOCES' physical education teacher Bob Taps came up with the idea of an indoor space where Walden students could get some extra physical activity in during the day. These days, Walden students love using the school's Indoor Activity Center's tricycles, trampolines, sensory tables, tunnels and inflatable bouncy house, and they have an opportunity to do so every school day.

"We schedule all Walden classes for 20 minutes in here every single day," said Taps. "Additionally, any student can come here any time of the day if they need a physical release, even if another class is here. This facility provides a perfect outlet for our students."

Taps said that response to the center has been overwhelmingly positive. "What we've found is that our students are calmer, more focused and more ready to learn when they get back to their classrooms," he said.  "The center also serves as a motivator, because the students really look forward to coming here."

Walden teacher aide Liane Delgado provided input during the center's conception and implementation and is very pleased with the result.  "It's been incredibly reinforcing and calming for our students," she said. "It's been such a positive addition to the school day."

Watching a group of students jumping around together in the bouncy house, Director of Special Education Shelley Fleischmann said, "When you see the incredible equipment and the obvious excitement among the students and staff, it's easy to see that this facility has a 'wow factor.' The Indoor Activity Center is yet another feature that sets our BOCES apart."


Ellen Lane, Editor
Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES

Stay In Touch

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Find us on Pinterest