Artist Katie Trainer’s teaching combines art and science through mural classes Local News

Katie Trainer is painting her way through Lancaster County education centers; from school to the Lancaster Science Factory, in addition to creating murals, he has a hand in teaching students how to do the same.

Today, the Lancaster Science Factory will complete the 100-meter-long mural it has designed and painted in recent months. And last month, Landis Run Intermediate School worked with Trainer to create two more than 1,000 square feet of murals on display in the building.

The 32-year-old trainer has taken on many job titles, including traveling magician and traveling artist, but has taught more than 5,000 students in 16 schools as a teaching artist. A teaching artist or artist-educator is a professional artist, and others are also involved in artistic learning experiences.

“You never know how far the energy of your life will go when you work with kids,” Trainer said. “You can inspire someone to do something that they will continue to do for the rest of their lives and it’s nice to never know what’s going to happen. And for me that’s the prettiest thing.”

At Landis Run, Trainer worked with at least two artists: sixth-grader Lucian D’Stair and Dannika Seiple. Lucian and Dannika were selected as assistant artists to work on the design and creation of the mural with over 900 other students.

Lucian said the process of creating art has many benefits. “I love that feeling and how I get a lot of other feelings along with that feeling while you draw or paint,” he said.

He said his favorite part of creating the mural was painting an octopus. He was one of hundreds of sketches that came to life through the project.

Integrating arts and academics in the municipality of Manheim

Landis Rune professors Dyan Branstetter, Megan Whitney and Juan Rodriguez joined the Millersville University Artist Residency Program to bring Trainer as an artist residency. Payment for the trainer’s residence was made through the Manheim Township Education Foundation.

“Our team was excited to promote a sense of community in our building, with students and teachers working together on this project,” said CEO Erin Birk. “Observing the pride of the students’ work was an amazing experience as they shaped and adapted it. The mural to fit their vision. Katie Trainer was wonderful and gave such life to the project.”

Trainer is an artist in teaching at the University of Millersville Artist Residency Program, linking a variety of artists to public K-12 schools, senior centers, and other community organizations in northwestern Lancaster, Berks, Lebanon, and Chester counties.

“I was looking for something that could bring a little more integration into the arts to school, so I could link some curriculum areas,” Branstetter said. “With this, there was more of a social and emotional connection … with team building and community building.”

Landis Run teaches fifth and sixth graders in the Manheim Township School District. Rodriguez and Whitney, the school’s art teachers, work with half of the students in the classrooms. Each student completed a sketch or poem based on what they brought to school or where they came from to make the mural, Branstetter said.

“All of these different elementary schools are wonderful in these big little community sites, and when the students come here, they all come together for the first time,” Branstetter said. “Students are losing a bit of their property almost because this large group of students is introduced to them, so we wanted something that would make them feel like they had a property and a place.”

In the mural, the six symbols of Manheim Township Elementary School match the letters MT with a blue line – the school’s mascot – that connects everything. As the trainer worked with the students on the mural, he not only taught them artistic skills, but also explained the process of creating the murals and talked about his career as a traveling artist and teacher.

Katie Trainer worked with more than 900 students at Landis Run Intermediate School to design and paint two 1,000-square-foot murals. Each student contributed an idea or sketch to the mural.

“I think a lot of the students liked asking questions and getting real answers about being an artist because there are so many of our students who are interested in continuing and continuing that in their future,” Whitney said.

The trainer worked with the students from early February to late March. And, at the time, the students saw what the future of art might be like for them.

Dannika said the project showed her that “you can become something great if you put your mind to it and if it really works.”

The intersection of science and art

For more than two years, Trainer has worked hard on another project, the Lancaster Science Factory. After completing his first and largest mural at the Practical and Interactive Science Center in 2017, Trainer was an obvious choice in the organization’s latest endeavor.

Before COVID-19 closed its business and temporarily suspended group activities, Lancaster Science Factory launched an Elevate Curiosity campaign to expand its programming with a new maker space and an outdoor patio.

The fence surrounding the courtyard will be filled with Trainer murals. Each panel depicts different species of wildlife and lands in Lancaster County that are affected by water discharges from the Conestoga River. The species shown in the mural are indicative of a healthy ecosystem.

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Of the 26 murals for Katie Trainer, 5 are next to each other on New Holland Ave., Lancaster, 454, Lancaster, Monday, April 11, 2022. The coach is painting a mural on 26 5 x 6 foot panels. together.

“Our goal was to tell the story of our slope that begins in Conestoga and ends at Chesapeake Bay in Havre de Grace,” said Emily Landis, executive director of Science Factory.

In the summer, Trainer also teaches a mural painting class as part of the Science Factory summer camp program.

“I enjoy working with kids,” Trainer said.

He and his students have covered the walls of some classrooms with murals since he began teaching with the Science Factory.

But why – some would ask – a course based on teaching at Science Factory?

For trainers, art is an inherent part of STEM – science, technology, engineering and math. The term trainer comes from a field of people who believe that it should be STEAM or science, technology, engineering, arts and math, as it often uses art to refer to STEM.

“My life changed when I heard about STEAM and STEM programs, and I was debating whether I should be there,” Trainer said. “Then I basically started painting science subjects.”

In his classes, he begins to teach the principles of design. Then the kids start with the design work and finally paint it.

Landis said art is a great way to make STEM students “more tangible and confusing”.

“You can’t do STEM until and without design thinking,” he said. “You can’t be an effective scientist without these skills. When our students immediately embark on an engineering-construction project, you realize that they need to use those skills. So I think it’s a very important tool for any student to have. ”


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