ICS Stories

<img src="Art mural.png" alt="ICS middle school students created a mural in their class">

Middle school students kicked off their art class this year with an activity called “Let’s Grow Together” - an activity that MS Art teacher Megan Carpenter says allows her to get to know her students better.

If you walk into the MS Art class you’ll see a fascinating, jungle-like mural created by students, which serves as a visual representation of who they are as individuals, and reminds them that they are here “to grow” in their artistic practice.

Students were asked to envision themselves as a leaf or plant and paint it at the front of the classroom as a visual metaphor and reminder of their purpose. An activity that relies heavily on students’ owning the creative process and self-expression.

“I encourage students to 'dig deeper' in their thinking by first sharing my example with them and then they brainstorm and sketch how they would show aspects of their character or personality.” - Megan Carpenter, Art teacher

Students’ explanation of their painting was quite profound, as they pointed to areas on the plant that depicted their innermost insecurities, character traits, accomplishments, and overall purpose. One could see that when students feel safe in their environment fostered by a nurturing classroom, they feel comfortable expressing themselves without second-guessing their artistic choices.

“My leaf is delicate and a bit thorny - if you touch it the wrong way it can poke you. What that represents is me as a delicate person who can be easily hurt and hurt others.” - Meba, MS student

“My leaf might seem pretty basic from the outside, and as you can see the leaf is kind of alone. I feel like it represents me because sometimes I like to be alone and away from people because sometimes it’s best for you. There are small lines within the leaf that represent the different things I like, like basketball and Netflix.” - Ugaas, MS student

“This plant represents me. There’s a creature on the plant's head which represents my friends who protect me from bullies.” - Thero, MS student

At ICS we believe that the arts can provide a forum for safe expression, communication, and imagination. Teaching students to be creative is a deliberate process, and the skills learned through participation in the visual arts are a vital ingredient in preparing young people for the challenges they will face in shaping the future.


For more information about our Arts program, please visit

ICS in the News

Recent articles and blogs about and by ICS:

  • Dr. Tim’s Interview with Tom Vander Ark on PLCs HERE
  • ICS Addis Hosts Africa’s First Professional Learning Community at Work Institute, HERE
  • Making Personalization Work: Transferring Agency from Superheroes to Students, HERE
  • Wild and Thoughtful Innovation, HERE