The Steward School recently welcomed a special guest to campus to meet with students from all divisions. Ava Rajappa, a student at Moody Middle School, is the founder of Art Love, a non-profit that purchases and accepts donations of art supplies, assembles them into kits, and gives them to children in need. Middle School Science Teacher Mike Mailey
, a member of Steward’s Bryan Innovation Lab
team, met Ava last summer and was impressed by her enthusiasm and her dedication to community service. To date, Art Love has donated more than 4,600 art kits.
“Her story and vision inspired awe in me,” said Mr. Mailey. “Inviting her to Steward so that students could learn from her journey was a great opportunity.”
Ava met with Lower School students on April 4 during Community Time to talk about the inspiration behind Art Love. On April 5, she talked to Middle Schoolers about her experience of founding a non-profit, and later that day she met with Upper Schoolers who are members of Steward's Leadership and Entrepreneurship programs.
On April 5, Julie Rajappa, Ava’s mom and executive director of Art Love, presented Nurturing Young Entrepreneurs from a Parent Perspective, a talk for parents presented in conjunction with Steward's popular Parent Speaker Series. Ms. Rajappa spoke about finding ways to fully support her daughter’s vision while allowing Ava to take ownership of Art Love. She also cited the importance of having a supportive network and being realistic about time management as it pertains to Ava’s schoolwork and extracurriculars.
Art Imitating Art
Inspired by the Rajappas’ visits, Mr. Mailey, along with Bryan Innovation Lab Program Coordinator Megan Young, worked with Lower School students, tasking them to ideate kits in the spirit of Art Love and create their own prototypes. First, Ms. Young’s Innovation and Design tenth-grade students interviewed Junior Kindergarteners and kindergarteners to determine what they look for in artistic play.
“Our major insights from these empathy interviews were that our youngest Spartans are interested in art projects that involve choice, color, collaboration, and hands-on building,” said Ms. Young. Lower School students in Art Teachers Lynn Zinder
and Cindy Grissom
’s classes then applied Ava’s inspiration and Ms. Young’s investigation to imagine kits that will be appropriate for Steward’s upcoming 50th birthday celebration. The kits will be unveiled at Whirled Peace Day
“I love that this project is grounded in real-world application!” said Ms. Young. “With Ava as our inspiration, we were able to design programming that brings together multiple teachers, divisions, and disciplines to create our own version of Art Love kits.” Take a look at the Steward Snaps of the Art Love events.