Eric Allard

Eric Allard works with developmentally delayed children in a special needs preschool in Owings Mills, Maryland.

For the past 15 years, Open Studies at MICA has coordinated a partnership with the Parks & People Foundation to provide arts programming for approximately 70 rising second, third, and fourth graders at one branch of the SuperKids Camp-a six-week program designed for Baltimore City Public School students in need of remedial help for reading. As an enrichment partner, MICA writes a grant to secure funding for the camp, hires a site coordinator and six art instructors, and provides a venue for an art exhibition that acts as a capstone for the camp.

Campers start the day with breakfast and attend a reading class. After recess, they attend art classes designed to reinforce the reading curriculum. Students rotate on a two-week schedule between three art activities: ceramics, mural painting, and bookmaking. In ceramics, many students are introduced to clay for the first time and learn the importance of the word fragile, while in murals and bookmaking, the students learn several different artmaking techniques and create an array of mini projects. Several field trips and other extra-curricular activities are also woven into the program.

"The kids developed a sense of pride in their work and took ownership over what they had accomplished, which was awesome to see," said Caitlin Kambic ’12, who has worked with the SuperKids Camp for several summers. "It was so nice to come into camp each day and see how excited the kids were to work with clay. Most of the campers didn't have clay experience, and sometimes, they had no art experience," she said, adding that she was lucky to have taught a medium she is so passionate about.

When Eric Allard ’11 had received his MAT, he was looking for a summer job when he'd heard about the position for a bookmaking instructor. "Coming out of the MAT program I was completely ready to handle the students and had no trouble adjusting to the way the camp was run," he said.

"Because of the broad knowledge I received through MICA classes, I was able to teach bookmaking without a problem, despite never actually taking a class on the subject while in school."

Since finishing his work with the SuperKids Camp, Allard has gone on to work with developmentally delayed children in a special needs preschool in Owings Mills, Maryland. Kambic hopes to volunteer with the SuperKids Camp program again in the future.