Making Art at Daylight – “These children’s are in good hands.”

On our recent trip to Daylight School my daughter Christina and I had the great privilege to teach in the class rooms for a week.

in the class daylightI am a Art teacher in Forest Lake Minnesota. I told the Headmaster, on the first day, that I hoped to teach in every classroom during our stay.

We had over 150 pounds of Art supplies in his office, but he still looked at me a little skeptically. I had met teachers Evans and Chistof when we first arrived. It turns out they are the teachers responsible for the “candidates.” The 8th graders who will be studying for their High School entrance exam through out the school year. Now having been in their classroom several times in our stay, I know these children’s are in good hands.

candidates Along with Tom Gilaspy we spent the better part of two days talking about creative story telling and journaling. These two skills constitute a large part of the final exam they are preparing for. We also did a fun color theory Art lesson using the primary colors of yellow, blue and red. That the children had a lot of fun with and learned some hands on lessons.

Over the next several days I would check in with the headmaster to find out which classes I would go to and proceeded to teach in each one. Each day was a new and wonderful experiance. There are three preschool classes this year, full of eager learners, although one little girl did cry when she saw me. The teacher, Miss Rebecca assured me she would get over it, I am not sure if she has yet.

in the class daylight
All of the teachers were extremly helpful. Each spoke Swahili and English. The helped communicate my ideas to the students and were as patient with me as they were with the students. Ruben and Robert and Sharon as well as all the other teachers are part of a unique community that are working wonders with limited resources. Thank you for letting us be a small part of Daylight School.12491762_10153941973115559_3997608680811444274_o

On the last day the Headmaster asked if we would be interested in eating with the students, I stood in line, got my bowl of rice and beans, a spoon was found for me and as I sat down on the foundation of the preschool/first grade classroom they gathered curiously around me as they ate their generous bowl of food. What fun!

Larry Underkoffler
Art Teacher


Our 8th Graders are Publishing a Collection of Stories!

I just finished my second trip to Daylight and this time, I was privileged to spend some time with the Level 8 (8th grade) students. At the end of this year, in December, they will take the KCPE exam (like the ACT or SAT but to get into high school, not college). The class that just took the exam in December, did remarkably well, with 100% passing.

2016 Level 8 students in  class

This year’s class has a high hurdle, but I believe they are up for it. Part of the KCPE test requires the students to write an original story. Their story is graded in part on grammar, spelling, and penmanship and, in part, on creativity. We discussed creativity, where it comes from, some tricks to spark creativity, the tradition of Kenyan storytelling and poetry, and read a wonderful poem by Kenyan poet Njeri Wangari about the power of words over bullets, all under the grand, old mukusu tree on campus.

I asked the students to write a story while we were in Alala for a couple days. The students copied their stories in a personal journal they made. The stories are wonderful and creative. You will have a chance to read them. Stay tuned. We hope to have the collection together by late spring or early summer, in print and for Kindle.2016 level 8 students and teachers You will be able to see for yourself just how smart they are. Proceeds will go to Daylight School.

Tom Gillaspy
First Presbyterian of Stillwater Team