In About,recipient,SMARTS

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