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Beautiful spaces for beautiful minds: artwork enhances schools

Public art collaborations build community and bring joy to Mount Royal and Lillie May Carroll Jackson 

Schools are places for ideas, imagination, learning, and exploration. In schools, students are inspired by not only teachers and peers, but also by the environments in which they learn. Across City Schools, communities are creating vibrant, community-based art that sparks curiosity and helps students connect with their school and the broader community.

At Lillie May Carroll Jackson (LMCJ), a school for girls in 5th to 8th grade in Clifton Park, the community wanted to make sure that students returning to in-person learning after the pandemic were entering a space where they were celebrated. The result was a community art project that enhanced their outdoor learning space with a gorgeous, colorful mural that honors Black women and girls. LMCJ outdoor mural

Led by community artist Jaz Erenberg and funded by the Heart of the School Fund - a charitable initiative managed by the Fund for Educational Excellence that makes grants to City School principals - 350 students, families and staff members collaborated around the design of the mural. Erenberg and educators led students and families in a lesson to explore their core values and express them in phrases that were incorporated in the mural. Today, this beautiful piece of art brings the outdoor space to life!

As the former principal, Rosiland Flemmings, beautifully put in her opening remarks at the mural’s unveiling, “You (students) came up with the colors and ideas, but more than anything, you dug inside of yourselves and thought ‘I live this experience everyday, so what does this mean for me?’. This space is a representation of your ideas and your work and you should be super proud about how your voice is elevated within our school community.”

Students agreed. Said sixth grader Taylore Moore, “The mural makes me feel happy because it lets me know that my school cares about me.” Sixth grader Makayla Garrett added, "The quote that I came up with is ‘I can, I will, end of story.’ It feels amazing.” 

To read more about outdoor learning spaces at City Schools, click here

At Mount Royal Elementary/Middle, the “Nut & Bolt” sculpture has been a Bolton Hill neighborhood landmark since it was created 40 years ago by artist and former Mount Royal parent Arthur Benson. Last Fall, the school and neighborhood community celebrated the renovation of this iconic work of art, which has been restored to its original color and condition, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Maryland State Arts Council. 

Mount Royal Nut & Bolt

“We worked together to make sure our kids knew we appreciated them and made our unique structure new again and bright again - all in this area that promotes art in all of its forms," said Mount Royal Principal Stephen Skeen. 

Watch the video of the dedication event here.

Interested in more stories of student and school community creativity? Check out these Progress Report stories: