JHS Hosts Buffalo Artist for “My Mark Matters”

Buffalo artist, Fotini Galanes, recently worked with Jamestown High School English as a New Language students in Debbie Oakes class on her “My Mark Matter” project. Ms. Galanes, an artist and muralist from Buffalo, NY, is best known for her drawings made directly onto ground porcelain clayboard. Ms. Galanes has exhibited extensively and her work is included in the permanent collection of the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Luciano Benetton and numerous private collections.

Mrs. Oakes heard that Ms. Galanes had an important message to share through her art. As a child, some peers, because of a childhood accident, treated her unmercifully. Her message is about treating others kindly, the great power (both negative and positive) of simple words and persevering to pursue your dreams.

“My students, who are learning English as a second language while trying to keep up in all of their classes, often feel frustrated and overwhelmed,” said Mrs. Oakes. “Every test they take is testing their English ability first, and it can be an overwhelming struggle. By hearing Ms. Galanes’ story, they were reassured, from someone who knows hardship that they will succeed if they persevere. Increasing demands on curriculum have led to less time to teach students about caring, kindness and humanity. Lucky for Jamestown High School, Principal Mike McElrath is very supportive of character education activities like this.”

Ms. Galanes brought her “My Mark Matters” project to Jamestown to bring awareness to children from every country of the world, as well as to teach students that they each sincerely matter. Ms. Galanes shared her personal journey, while encouraging students that they can overcome all obstacles; that each one of has their own important mark to make on the world.

During the “My Mark Matters” experience, students created unique art. The final project, which will be a large 3D globe, will be first exhibited in the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo, New York. The globe will be comprised of children’s marks, representing all 196 countries of the world. Visitors to the museum will be able to scan each art piece on the globe and see the name of the student who created it. This is an amazing opportunity for JHS students to have their work publically exhibited.

In letters to Ms. Galanes, JHS students shared grateful sentiments:

“It really impacted me, how your lifestyle was and how you now are a great person with a huge heart and beautiful dreams,” said Kenyary Collazo.

“Your story touched my heart,” said Sonia Rodriguez.

“Thank you for coming and giving an inspiring talk that taught me a special thing. I used to stop trying at everything because it was hard or it looked like it was impossible. Now I know that things are not as hard as they look and it would be easier if I kept trying and trying,” said Janice Rosario.

For more information on the “My Mark Matters” project, please visit www.fotini.net.

posted on 03/27/2017 - filed under: Academics, Art, ENL, JHS, Spotlight, Students