Art Teacher Envisions Productive Future

School Based Enterprises Among the Dreams for Westview's Wenz
Posted on 03/12/2021
This is the image for the news article titled School Based Enterprises Among the Dreams for Westview's WenzEach Wednesday, Westview students from Debbie Carden’s classroom make their way down the hall (with the Educational Assistants Shannon Roberts and Dawn Thompson). From the moment they arrive at art teacher Jennifer Wenz’ door, they are artists. Traditionally, the options for creating were pen, pencils, and paint. These days, imaginations are also fueled by technology.

In February, these students from the Comprehensive Development Class used a laser to turn their drawings into etched plates to give as gifts for Valentine's Day.
Other art students have utilized that same laser, purchased with grant monies from the Charger Foundation, to add custom messages and graphics to drink tumblers, baseball bats and golf balls.

They’ve also hand-drawn floor plans for imagined houses and are now learning the software to build 3D models of their designs.

And if Wenz’s dream comes true, these first steps could be leading the way for Westview students to become entrepreneurs.

“The hope is that we start to bring the student's artwork to life and in the process they gain an understanding of not only digital arts but of design as well,” said Wenz. “I'm hoping in the future we see the kids working with our community to develop a product that will help promote not only the arts but to help sustain a Makerspace type classroom where all children are free to use their imagination and watch it come to life.”

According to STEAM (science, math, engineering, art, math) experts, a makerspace may include components of a lab, a craft area, a STEM center, a tech room, or an art station. Makerspaces provide hands-on, creative ways to encourage students to design, experiment, build and invent as they engage in science, engineering and tinkering.

Wenz is on her way toward creating such a space. She’s already obtained the laser and a 3D printer. She is looking toward the day when even more can be added.

“Giving students a space and time to build, explore, fail and retry, and share their ideas with others is so important. If I can expose these kids to different avenues of things they didn't think possible that's my goal,” she noted.

Currently, she and the students are gaining an understanding of the new devices and their capabilities.

“I really hope at some point to have a type of work-based learning class where the kids have real life projects that they're working on for the community. The money that the products bring in could help sustain the class and provide new technology in new equipment so that future generations have the same experience and are getting lifelong skills that will prepare them for the outside world upon graduation,” she said. 

Thus far, students have only gifted their etched creations. The next step is to produce enough for fundraisers. Ultimately, Wenz would like to see students take on production, marketing and distribution so that they can experience all sides of a self-sustaining school-based enterprise.

students holding plates
From left to right: Jody Phillips, Chloe Nadig, Austin Ray, Cameron O'Connor, Krupa Patel, and Nick Avent show the plates they etched for their Valentines.

cutting board tumblers
Items like cutting boards and tumblers are currently allowing Westview students to learn how to master the laser which was purchased with grant monies from the Charger Foundation.