Artful LearningBlogBlog 21: Legacy - Davis & Cencula
May 25, 2021
Legacy | Davis & Cencula
The Artful Learning model has worked with some of the most brilliant of leaders. Master educators themselves that, both figuratively and literally, built schools designed for student learners to thrive within. Unique individuals with a varied background of educational experience unified along with Leonard Bernstein's vision that "the best way to know a thing is in the context of another discipline."
This new blog series will spotlight principal leaders and educators that remain an inspiration to all of us while pushing our thinking to refine the best professional development in the fields of education, the arts, and creativity.
DR. ROBERT DAVIS
Dr. "Bob" Davis led Hillside Elementary School (Des Moines, IA) for 14 years as a Legacy and Leadership Artful Learning School. He was responsible for conceptualizing and overseeing the community investment in a new elementary school - anchored in a 'home' concept that employed the latest in progressive, shared learning spaces, technologies, and a stunning, colorful, and inviting design. Dr. Davis challenged his team and other school leaders across the nation with the question - "Is this a space for adults or a space for young learners?" From the exhaustive review of curricular experiences for children, initiative adoptions, arts integration, ongoing professional development, and critical conversations - his team of teachers and school become the beacon for showcasing best practices in education. The Hillside Hero's Journey - an Original Creation that demonstrated resilience, inventiveness, and fortitude displayed what the Artful Learning framework can do to explain what young learners must understand, know, and can do. Dr. Davis also piloted the revised Artful Learning School Design Book - the mainstay for leadership support and development, which continues to this day.
Dr. Davis retires this year after devoting over 30 years to public education in Iowa - and the nation - through his service as a Master Trainer with Artful Learning. We salute this dedication and are elated with his newfound availability for developing current and future leaders.
Ever the servant leader, Dr. Davis is captured preparing for a community presentation with images behind him of the evolving and completed Hillside Elementary School.
Dr. Davis with Distinguished Trainer Ann Ott-Cooper (right) former Wright Elementary School principal and Artful Learning Trainer (center) Lindsey Cornwell during professional learning in Iowa.
(l-r) Distinguished Trainers Susan Stauter, Ann Ott-Cooper, Master Trainer Pam Perkins, Executive Director Patrick Bolek, Artful Learning President - Alexander Bernstein, Distinguished Trainer Jo Ann Isken, and Master Trainer Bob Davis enjoying dinner in Napa, California during the 2014 Summer Session.
Legacy and Leadership School Principal Karen Cencula and the Townline Elementary School (Vernon Hills, IL) team of teachers pioneered the school-wide Concept. Every classroom already implements an integrated Unit of Study driven by a Concept and Significant Question. In addition, the Townline approach selects a focus of concentration for the year - determined collectively amongst the teachers - that will resonate both with the school vision/mission and expand the understanding of universal concepts students will use for the rest of their lives. Whether the concept was Relationships, Change, Systems, or many others, all students were immersed in the Experience, Inquire, Create and Reflect sequence. An annual, school-wide student and teacher fabricated Original Creation - many stunning in scale - installed permanently as a learning gallery.
Principal Karen Cencula (leaning forward) over the school-wide Original Creation discusses the importance of building community through the arts.
(Detail) Every student in the school created the Concept of Legacy installation - (over 400!) - encased in acrylic using their footprint to identify the value that represented their best self.
Karen oversaw the school installation of the Chicago Picasso recreated with 3" Post-It-sized squares and construction paper to scale - at 60 feet tall. Gridded out for completion by the entire school, delving into the concepts of Independence, Interdependence, and Relationships revealed the possibilities of how the walls of a school can teach while being inclusive.