Why SmARTs?

Three of the smARTs long-time volunteer/committee members and teaching artists, Joann Tomsche, Christina Nordella and Mallory Cremin were asked “why did you become involved in smARTs”? Below is what they had to say.


I started smARTS because I wanted my sons to grow up and experience a learning community where the arts are valued and important. I continued to work and play with an evolving group of committed volunteers, all of whom value the arts in education and in life. Witnessing and supporting creativity in children is joyful work. I’m so pleased to have been part of this program for 13 years.

– Joann Tomsche, Artist

Sharon Seibert, the then Kindergarten teacher at the time and Saffron Symank asked me if I would like to participate in a group to bring more art supplies into the classroom. Having both my youngest children attend Mountain Meadow pre-school with Denise Gioeli, which was an art-based curriculum, I believed in the importance of art in education.  There was no hesitation. However, although we successfully got the art supplies, art was still not happening in the classrooms. We adopted the smARTs name and began as a model for Sharon’s Art Friday class with the use of local artists and volunteers which relieved the overwhelmed teachers. The program started in just K-2 at the time.  It was wonderful! Now, the program has expanded to include all grades…a lot farther than anyone of us at the time could have predicted. Our school has become a recognized academic school largely in part to the smARTs program. I am proud to be so long a part of it. There is nothing more rewarding than sparking a child’s imagination and watching them grow and succeed and reminding them of the beauty of art which is really just a reflection of them! And I can’t thank enough all the volunteers and artists that have contributed all these years to making it into such a success. But I do hope all of them know deep within themselves how much of a difference they have made and are still making in our children’s lives and literally the future generations. Deep bow and gratitude.

Christina Lee Nordella, smARTs Volunteer Coordinator/ Artist

public school volunteer arts program, idyllwild

You ask why I got involved in smARTs. When they first asked if I wanted to get involved, I still had a child (Noah) at home. Cassius was in kindergarten. Cassius was getting lots of art with Mrs. Laurie Maxwell in kindergarten. When Noah entered school, Cassius was in second grade and not getting any art. So I started volunteering with smARTs, bringing hands on experience with different mediums to the classroom. I believe art encourages creative outlets in all areas from cooking and living, to interacting with other people, to appreciating our environment. I believe smARTs has helped the students at Idyllwild elementary grow in so many ways. smARTs is unique, because the community artists that support the program, while not following a traditional arts development of skills based learning, instead give the children a wide range of experiences and approaches.  It has been very satisfying, but frustrating because I want the public school system to provide the arts classes, during the school day, so every single student can be involved and experiencing art, not relying on overworked parents at special schools like ours. Finally, I want to thank Idyllwild Community Fund, ICF, for supporting the fabulous programs that enrich our town. Thank you.

– Mallory Cremin, Artist

smARTS Program Expands Middle School Offerings

Middle School, Joanne

Joanne Tomsche, middle school art coordinator, told this month’s guest editor, Dianne Suechika, how the role of art in the middle school curriculum has been amplified with help from ICF. (Joanne and student are pictured left.)

Since its inception in 2002, the smARTS program has been widely acclaimed for its dedication to integrating the arts into the curriculum at Idyllwild School. ICF supports the smARTS program with grant funds and promotion. This year the generous support of ICF allowed for greater expansion in the middle school.

Two new Idyllwild middle school teachers worked with Joanne Tomsche, a founding artist of the smARTS program, to significantly increase the number of classes in which art has been integrated into social studies and language arts curricula.  They acknowledged the level of volunteer involvement and the depth of resources available through the smARTS program.

Starting in October, 2012, smARTS began a series of classes designed to give all middle school students confidence in basic drawing skills. Other smARTS classes have included handmade language arts journals for the 8th grade and hand-built coil pots, created to promote understanding of ancient cultures, in the 6th grade. The 7th graders designed and painted illuminated manuscript letters and gothic cathedral windows as they studied Medieval history. Classes connected to the math and science curricula were featured during the spring term.

Also during this past year, ICF funded the weekly Friday art program for Kindergarten through 5th graders, the annual art history presentation by Ken Young, purchase of consumable art supplies, and field trip transportation. The partnership between ICF and smARTS has, from the very beginning, been the foundation for the continued stability of this unique and valuable program.

smARTS Completes 63 Art Classes

smARTs March 2011

By Joann Tomshe
Students in Brennen Priefer’s 5th grade class made Water Cycle Mobiles to tie in with their science unit.  One of smARTS objectives is to address multiple learning modalities.  In this project, science concepts are reinforced with visual and kinesthetic activities.
This was just one of 63 diverse art classes completed by smARTS during the fall program.  Other classes supported by a grant from the Idyllwild Community Fund included gourd painting, self portraits, metal embossing and perspective drawing.  Many thanks for your support.