Art Student Leads Club for Kids Amidst COVID-19

From meeting every Saturday for art and crafts to delivering art kits door to door, Churches United for the Homeless’ weekly Art Club for the kids living there has become a COVID-19 success story thanks to MSUM senior art education and psychology student, Paige Busby.

Paige, 22, partnered with Churches United for the Homeless to take over as the director of their Saturday morning Art Club for youth, as part of her MSUM apprenticeship scholarship. It’s a two-year scholarship in the Art Education program that, working with her advisor and faculty member, Brad Bachmeier, allows students like Paige to partner with outside organizations involving their major to help others. Working with Churches United for the Homeless allows Paige to exemplify her elementary teaching skills and artistic ability.

“I have always seen myself in education,” Paige said. “I like learning myself and as a student I kind of knew which teachers’ styles I appreciated, and I just felt what other way to go on than be a teacher that really appreciates how each student can learn through their own preferences and through their own interests.”

Paige was paired with MSUM alumna Marissa Jensen to help run and direct the art club. Marissa teaches at Moorhead High School and is the former club director. She has been helping Paige since her first appearance at the art club last year. Paige thoroughly enjoys helping there, even with the harsh changes that had COVID brought with it.

Usually, Paige would go once a week throughout the semester to plan activities and projects while interacting with the kids, giving parents going through stressful times a break with their children in safe, capable hands. Like most activities during COVID, Churches United’s Art Club didn’t know what to do but cancel until it was deemed safe to gather again. Paige had a different idea.

“We couldn’t meet in person anymore, so I reached out to them to provide them with some materials. I made a few art kits, dropped them off with some materials, some stuff the kids can play with, some more books. I just wanted to make sure that they knew someone was still thinking of them.”

The art kits included packets provided by the Creative Plains Foundation filled with creative prompts and art supplies such as paints, chalks, and modeling clay to keep them busy and creating. While Paige couldn’t see them in person, she still made sure each kid would have a substitute for the time spent together and interactions that could no longer happen.

As time goes on and COVID safety protocols progress, Art Club has begun to meet in person again. While COVID caused Paige and the kids' problems, Paige's dedication proved fruitful.

A generous donor from Bell Bank, seeing the good work that was being done, awarded the Art Club a $2,000 grant as a part of Bell Bank’s Pay It Forward program. Paige and her advisor met with Churched United case manager Steve Graneski, figuring that they would get tablets and up-to-date books and supplies, so the kids could explore with their hands more. With accessible technology being such an important factor in distance learning these funds will be used to purchase three tablets as well as updated games, books, and art supplies so MSUM tutors and the Art Club can continue to provide quality experiences and instruction for the children at Churches United.

After graduation, Paige wishes to stick around and get a bit more established with the Art Club. If she stays in the area, she hopes to continue working with Churches United; otherwise, she hopes MSUM will find another art education major that would like to step up or have an experience like that. When asked if she thinks she would have found this opportunity outside MSUM and her major, Paige said:

“In college, you come across professors and faculty members who know more about the community and opportunities than you do. While you might stumble upon an experience like this by yourself, I feel like having that community with MSUM and those professors give you the confidence and the ability to reach out and kind of guide you when you’re doing new things like this.”

Upon graduating in Fall 2021, Paige would like to try teaching and have the experience of being in a school but would like to eventually continue her education in school psychology or research in education, such has improving teaching methods. She is really interested in future students, helping them pursue what they want and to help them learn the way they feel is best for them.


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