ABE at The Rooms

Thanks to Stella’s Circle’s Adult Basic Education Instructor, Jessica Lee-Middleman, for writing this account of her ABE class going to The Rooms for a workshop.






In early June, six Adult Basic Education (ABE) participants, accompanied by Stella’s Circle staff members, were invited to participate in an art class hosted by Anne and Tori at The Rooms. Our ABE class helps participants improve their literacy and numeracy skills up to the grade seven level.

Before the session at The Rooms, many of the students and staff would not have called themselves “creative” or “artistic”.  However, by the end of the activity, we were feeling quite differently!

Anne and Tori started the session with some practice drawings using cardboard cutouts.  Anne emphasized that we were doing “math without numbers”, which the students were delighted to hear!  Anne also taught us that art challenges our brains to see things differently.  This became apparent as we all drew rooms using a “vanishing point”, which forced us to draw lines that didn’t feel correct.  However, once the drawings were completed, the lines did indeed show the correct perspective of the room.  We were all completely surprised to see how accurate our rooms looked!

We then moved on to our larger pieces of art.  Anne and Tori walked us through the process of creating our drawings step-by-step.  We used graphite, charcoal, and chalk to create an image of our choice.  When we completed the last step and removed the tape from the borders of our pictures, we were all impressed with how polished our pieces looked.  One student commented, “I didn’t know I could make something this good!”  Others said they were looking forward to hanging their pieces on their walls.

When this activity was complete, Anne and Tori presented us with a beautiful book about Intuit Art for our classroom library.  Anne also gifted us with the artwork she created during our session, which we will proudly frame and display in our ABE classroom at Stella’s Circle.

Next, Anne and Tori took us to view Billy Gauthier’s exhibit of carvings called “Beyond Bone”. The students expressed amazement at and appreciation for Mr. Gauthier’s works.

Finally, we enjoyed a cup of tea or coffee and a snack from The Rooms’ Café.  Most students had not visited this café previously and afterwards they indicated that it was a lovely way to end their morning.

From the beginning of our session, Anne and Tori provided a very relaxed and comfortable environment for our group.  Throughout all the activities, they were happy to answer questions, lend a hand to those who had challenges, and provide helpful tips.  Anne and Tori were able to keep the group working at a pace that was engaging without being stressful or unmanageable for the students.  The diversity of the activities (creating art, touring an exhibit, visiting the café) kept the students’ attention throughout our session. Some of our students have cognitive delays and/or limited exposure to art, and Anne and Tori made all the activities accessible for the entire class.

On behalf of our class, I would like to thank Anne, Tori and The Rooms for hosting us and for making our visit so enjoyable!  I sincerely hope that we will be able to participate in further sessions at The Rooms.