A Family Tree Art Project at Piney Grove Elementary
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By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
NOVEMBER 4, 2019 – On a wall outside the cafeteria at Piney Grove Elementary, you will find a Family Tree art project that includes a hand profile of every student.
When parents come to have lunch their child, many students point out their hands to Mom or Dad.
Allie Pendry’s son, Liam, is in first grade at Piney Grove. When she dropped by the school with Liam’s younger brother, they went to the mural and found Liam’s hand on the wall.
“That’s cool,” Pendry said.
The tree also includes every teacher, as well as every other member of the staff, including administrators, people who work in the office, custodians and the people who work in the cafeteria.
It’s all a way of saying, “We are family,” said Carol Mason, the art teacher who oversaw the project.
“This is a visual representation of what our school stands for… It brings everybody together.”
“I think that tree is so powerful – what it means,” said Sharon Landreth, the second secretary at the school. “I love it.”
Piney Grove has a new principal this year – Brendan Elkins – and a new assistant principal – Leslie Gardner. The theme they have established for this school year is “Family.”
“We don’t just enroll children,” Gardner said. “We enroll families.”
Establishing the sense of a school family starts in the office, where photographs of staff members hang on one wall. When data manager Vickie True saw a Family Tree art project on the Pinterest social media site, she thought that would be another good way to nurture that sense of family. She mentioned what she had seen to Mason, and Mason took it from there.
Students in each grade level made hand profiles the same color so the tree has yellow, green, blue, purple, orange and green sections.
While everyone was making hand profiles, Mason came in one Saturday and painted the tree and background on a space 16 feet long and 13 cinderblocks high. Piney Grove has about 635 students, 80 staff members and five people who work in the cafeteria.
“Our school theme and an important part of our mission is Family,” Elkins said. “It is our goal as a school community to create a learning environment that is inclusive and family oriented for everyone. Our Family Tree is a great visual to remind us all of our mission and to work to create a positive school culture!”
“I am so proud of the work Mrs. Mason has done to bring this idea to fruition. It is a beautiful display of her talents and the hands of each member of our school family.”
When students who were passing by one recent morning were asked to stop and point out their hand, they were happy to do so.
It was a fun project, said Bella Miller. “I like all the colors.”