Reaching Out to Schools, Teachers and Children
High School Student Coursework
In 2017–18, 148 area high school students took 185 Smith courses (valued at $1,190,280) at no cost to the students or their parents. Since 1990, 2,219 area high school students have taken 2,656 courses at the college.
Considered one of the finest college art museums in the country, the Smith College Museum of Art (SCMA) is known for its collection of nearly 27,000 art works ranging from ancient Greek vases to contemporary video art. Smith College began collecting works of art in 1879, four years after enrolling its first class. Special exhibitions reflect the growing diversity of the collection and support the global curriculum of the college. SCMA will celebrate its centennial in 2019–20 with a series of special programs and exhibitions.
Second Fridays and Community Day
On the second Friday of each month—as part of the downtown Northampton Arts Night Out program—SCMA hosts “Second Friday” from 4 to 8 p.m. This free art experience for all ages attracts an average of 300+ visitors per program and features hands-on art-making projects as well as a brief informal gallery conversation focusing on the museum’s collection and special changing exhibitions. These “Open Eyes” discussions are led by museum education staff and based on the highly regarded approach to increasing visual literacy known as Visual Thinking Strategies.
In partnership with area schools and various Smith departments, SCMA also hosts an annual free Community Day each spring with art-making and learning experiences geared to all ages.
Nearly 3,500 elementary and secondary school students visited the museum in 2017–18, including hundreds from the Northampton public schools. SCMA offers free admission to all school groups and bus subsidies to defray school transportation costs. Teachers who reserve a tour can receive a free admission pass to plan their visit in advance. Lesson plan ideas are also available on the website.
Open year-round, six days a week (closed on Mondays and major holidays), the museum is committed to providing broad access to its collections, exhibitions and programs. Effective 2017–18, the museum extended its open hours on Thursdays to 8 p.m. Museum admission is fully waived for museum members, college students with IDs, Five College employees and families, and youth ages 18 and under. Admission is also free on more than 20 days each year, including Second Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m., Smith Family Weekend, Smith Commencement/Reunion Weekends, International Museum Day and Community Day. As part of the Blue Star Museums program, the museum offers free admission to active-duty service personnel and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Admission is also free for families with EBT cards, through the Card to Culture program.
Free admission to SCMA is also available to public library cardholders at many local and regional libraries via the SCMA Library Pass Partners Program. Some 35 libraries participate in the SCMA Library Pass Partners Program each year, providing essential support for the museum’s exhibitions and public programs. Libraries may purchase passes through the museum’s Membership Office at email@example.com or 413-585-2777. For a list of participating libraries and information about how to become a Library Pass Partner, visit www.smith.edu/artmuseum/Visit/Planning-a-Visit2/Library-Pass-Program.
The Botanic Garden of Smith College is open to the public seven days a week and serves as a living museum, showcasing plants native to New England and other ecosystems around the world. Its goals are education, research, display and conservation. The garden features the Lyman Conservatory and Church Exhibition Gallery, the campus arboretum and a variety of specialty gardens, totaling more than 7,000 labeled and mapped plants.
Free guided tours (given to more than 1,800 students each year) and bus subsidies, funded by the Friends of the Botanic Garden, are offered to local school groups. General tours of the Lyman Conservatory, the exhibition gallery, and the outdoor gardens and arboretum can be tailored to complement classroom study. Tours are available for local groups and nonprofit organizations. Local community members participate in an intensive volunteer training program and serve as tour guides. Audio tours of the Lyman Conservatory are available.
Two seasonal floral displays are held annually in the Lyman Conservatory: the Spring Bulb Show and the Fall Chrysanthemum Show. The Church Exhibition Gallery offers changing educational exhibitions (for information on current exhibits and events, see our website). The Woods of the World display is a permanent installation of 178 different kinds of wood, with information about each wood’s characteristics and the formation of grain patterns. Plant Life Through the Ages, is a 60-foot plant evolution mural, depicting plant adaptations over the course of 3.5 billion years of life on Earth.
The Smith campus is an arboretum, featuring more than 1,100 woody trees and shrubs. Specialty gardens include the Systematics Garden (where plants are arranged by family); Rock Garden; Perennial Border; Happy Chace ’28 Garden near the president’s residence; Japanese Garden; Wildflower and Woodland Garden; and Capen Garden, designed as a series of outdoor garden rooms, including a rose arbor, formal knot, color garden and perennial display.
As part of their annual community outreach activities, the Smith Chapter of the Society of Women Engineers sponsored Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (IGTED) on a Saturday in March. This is part of a nationwide engineering outreach to girls, supported by DiscoverE (formerly the National Engineers Week Foundation) www.discovere.org.
IGTED brought girls in grades 6 through 8 to the Smith campus for workshops that introduce basic engineering and design concepts, such as structural design, materials selection, fluid dynamics, chemical engineering, rapid prototyping, robotics and electronics. The event allowed girls to interact with female engineering students and conduct experiments, often with locally purchased supplies, in a college engineering laboratory. In recent years, middle school teams focused on a single, more sophisticated activity, allowing them to drill deeper into theory and practice.
Public School Involvement
About 20 to 30 graduate and undergraduate student interns complete their student teaching practica in Northampton public school classrooms each year. The teachers who serve as mentors receive a stipend, are entitled to take a course at Smith (which would normally cost $5,160) and are granted Smith library privileges. Many Northampton public school teachers have completed graduate work at Smith. Each year, as part of their coursework, some 100 Smith students serve as tutors in Northampton schools and as mentors and tutors in a variety of high school and middle school programs. Faculty members from the college’s education and child study department and teachers from the Smith College Campus School regularly engage in professional development work with Northampton teachers.
Twelve master’s-level Smith College School for Social Work (SSW) students are interning in Northampton for the 2018–19 training year. SSW students participate in 30-hour a week, 8-month clinical internships in local agencies, including ServiceNet, the Northampton Veteran’s Administration Medical Center, Collaborative for Educational Services, Northampton Sex Therapy Associates, Smith College Campus School and Smith College Counseling Service.
The Smith College Campus School serves children from kindergarten through grade six. Founded in 1926, the school serves as a laboratory for the college’s Department of Education and Child Study. The Campus School enrolls 230 children from Northampton and surrounding communities. Approximately 80 percent of the students are from families unaffiliated with Smith.
The Smith College Center for Early Childhood Education at Fort Hill offers full- and part-time early education and care for children from infancy through preschool and is open to all children in the surrounding communities. The program is inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach to early childhood education. The center offers tours and observations of the school and professional development opportunities to educators in the community.
Established in 1975, Sunnyside Child Care Center provides full and part-time care for children 18 months to 5 years. The majority of the 65 families served are non-Smith families from Northampton and the surrounding communities. Though Sunnyside is not a Smith program, Smith College generously supported the acquisition of a new building at 557 Easthampton Road in 2013. There is a strong history of college faculty representing the unique perspective of the Smith community on its board of directors. Smith students serve as interns through the America Reads work-study program. Smith faculty and students use the program for research projects, to observe and understand young children’s behavior and language acquisition. Local high school and college students observe and volunteer at Sunnyside as part of child development courses and as interns. Sunnyside participates in the Northampton Community Partnerships for Children Council and is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Sunnyside has been a Universal Pre-Kindergarten Pilot Program for the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and received a Classroom Quality Grant from EEC to promote school readiness and positive outcomes for children. This March, Sunnyside’s fundraising committee will host a family fun run event open to the community at Smith’s indoor track.