Pontiac March 8, 2023
The Ministry of Education’s Culture in the Schools program is designed to offer meaningful experiences to students at all levels and three regional primary schools benefited from the program starting February 27 and running through to March 3.
For this purpose, the Ministry maintains a Culture and Education Directory of approved resources available to visit classrooms and present their creative processes to students in short workshops. In the summer of 2022, the local school board accessed the directory and made arrangements to have one such resource come to the area and they chose well.
Sally Sheeks is an installation artist residing in Poltimore, just north of Buckingham. Her post-secondary schooling started in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue on the extreme West end of the Island of Montreal and moved from there to downtown to Concordia before heading overseas to the University of Mainz, in Germany. Her art generally manifests in public installations, sculptures and drawings.
That’s the official biography. Her unofficial profile is the one likely more in keeping with the motivation behind the program in the first place: offer meaningful experiences to students. Sheeks radiates goodness and you want to sit at her table without even knowing her name or why she’s there, although you have a sense she might have been used as a character reference for casting in “The Sound of Music” and might drop into Do-Re-Mi at any moment.
For her week in the area, arrangements had been made for sessions at L’École primaire Ste-Anne on the Île-du-Grand-Calumet, L’École L’envolée in Campbell’s Bay and lastly at L’École primaire Ste-Marie in Otter Lake, which is where we caught up with her while she was teaching her second session of the day to the students in grades one to three.
Ste-Marie is a small school and it is seemingly a microcosm of that which the education system as a whole aspires to: impactful education in a culturally diverse community. Otter Lake bridges the geographic and linguistic communities of francophones to the North and East and anglophones to the South and West. It also now serves as host to several Ukrainian speaking families.
Thus, this wee classroom of 17 English-speaking, French-speaking and Ukranian-speaking students ranging in age from five to eight had an abundance of diversity and Sheeks’ kindness and patience soon had pencils scratching, scissors snipping and glue sticks gobbing. Excited chatter was met with praise and encouragement and quizzical demands, with nurturing returns.
Art, it seems, is universal, and Sheeks, a worthy ambassador.
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