Art in the Classroom Matters

<div style="color:#FFFFFF;">For students who learn...</DIV>

For students who learn...

best visually, aurally or physically, hands-on art and music projects help them shine in the classroom.

<div style="color:#FFFFFF;">Creating art helps kids...</div>

Creating art helps kids...

make new connections between ideas and realize that there are multiple solutions to problems.

<div style="color:#FFFFFF;">Expressing ideas through art...</div>

Expressing ideas through art...

awakens the creative spirit and opens students’ eyes to deeper meaning in their work.

<div style="color:#FFFFFF;">An understanding of history...</div>

An understanding of history...

helps students express themselves through dance, learn geometry creating mosaics and explore the solar system using sculpture.

IMagining, creating, connecting!

imagining history through a peacemaker mosaic

Creating hand-bound books of weather water colors and poems

connecting through an African drumming circle

These are just some of the hands-on experiences District 97 students have through the Art Start program. Professional sculptors, painters, dancers, musicians and storytellers collaborate with teachers and kids in Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade. Their projects deepen every child’s experience of the curriculum through the arts.

Art in the classroom matters. It gives children wider vocabulary.

It introduces new perspectives, helps develop problem-solving skills and creates new opportunities for children to excel in school. As one first grader said, “It’s good to try new things because you never know what you’ll like.”

Our artists also conduct special projects each year with 3rd-8th grade students. Over the last 17 years, more than 13,000 District 97 children have participated in Art Start.



gives children wider vocabulary


introduces new perspectives


creates new opportunities for children to excel in school

<div style="color:#FFF; font-weight: normal;">District 97 Teacher</div>

District 97 Teacher

"There is nothing else like it, community artists helping community kids, sharing their knowledge, expertise, and passion."

<div style="color:#FFF; font-weight: normal;">Art Start Artist</div>

Art Start Artist

“I tell both classroom teachers and other artists about this great opportunity to collaborate, use art across the academic and social/emotional curriculum and it is FUN!”

<div style="color:#FFF; font-weight: normal;">District 97 Teacher</div>

District 97 Teacher

“Some of my students were able to express themselves in a very different way than I had seen previously in the classroom. After a few lessons in body awareness, our classroom activities began incorporating our movement from Art Start.”

<div style="color:#FFF; font-weight: normal;">District 97 Teacher</div>

District 97 Teacher

“These are learning opportunities that children run home to tell their parents about.”


Art Start News

Art Start Around Town

This month District 97 students have been hard at play and work, both of which mean they’ve been learning! Students […]

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Art Start at Village Hall

Thanks to Camille Wilson White, art from OPEF’s Art Start program is now hanging in the Oak Park Area Arts […]

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Who Are the Peacemakers

As part of their Black History Month discussions, first graders from Lincoln worked with mosaic artist Jennifer McNulty on a […]

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kids in yoga pose

Holmes First Graders Go Zen with Weather & Yoga

It’s hard to cope with winter weather like this, but the first graders of Holmes may be able to help […]

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"We Can’t Do It Without You"

$500 funds a field trip for 100 students to a dance performance, play or artist studio.

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Jill Kramer Goldstein

Jill Kramer Goldstein

Art Start Coordinator /

Jill Kramer Goldstein has been Art Start program coordinator since 2013. She received her MA in Art Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her BFA in printmaking from Kent State University. She is an active member of the Illinois artisan program, Expressions Graphics. Jill has experience teaching in museum & community art settings and has facilitated programs for preschoolers to seniors. Her artistic practice focuses on landscape and environment through relief printing. In her spare time she enjoys creating papier mache monsters. Jill works from her home studio in Oak Park where she lives with her husband and two children.

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