Chamisa Teachers Collaborate On Artist In Residence Project Funded By LAPS Foundation


A Chamisa Elementary School student proudly displays her artistic creation. Photo Courtesy LAPS Foundation


Artist in residence Gasaloti Adeyemo poses with a group of 4th graders at Chamisa Elementary School. Photo Courtesy LAPS Foundation


When educators are able to spread lessons across multiple disciplines, it can be a really effective means of teaching, not to mention a lot of fun for the students. Last fall, Chamisa Elementary librarian Beverly Nelson submitted a grant to the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation to help fund an artist in residence for the 2017-18 school year. The project Nelson proposed was to be a true collaboration across disciplines, as it included art teacher Renee Mitsunaga and music teacher Kim Letellier.

The three teachers worked together to hire Gasali Adeyemo, an artist from the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria. Laura Loy, executive director of the LAPS Foundation, and Melanie McKinley, board member, visited Mitsunaga’s art classroom to see the artist in action.

The students in the class that Loy and McKinley visited were fourth graders, although the grant funded the project for students in the 2nd through 6th grades. Adeyemo started the lesson by drumming and telling stories of his childhood. The students were mesmerized to hear of life in such a different place. They asked many questions about his everyday life…how did they get and cook food, how did they bathe, how did they entertain themselves?

The lesson transitioned to Adeyemo talking about how he became an artist and the art that he creates. Following the discussion, the students were then able to make their own tie dye creations. They were excited to tie their pieces of fabric and then immerse them in the color solution of their choice. The students reluctantly left their creations to be rinsed and opened later the next week.

After the lessons were complete, the students took what they learned and created a website that can be found here. The project was considered a wonderful success on all levels. Nelson said, “It reinforced the feeling of community at our school because we put it together with our cultural night, so that the children not only got to do art, music, and library, but it was tied together in such a cohesive way that they understood that learning is not just compartmentalized, but that it’s about life.”

The Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation is an independent organization that supports, challenges, and invests in a successful future for all Los Alamos public school students. Since its inception in 2005, the LAPS Foundation has raised more than $1 million to fund opportunities and materials for students, provide professional development for district educators, defray operating expenses, and assist with capital improvements to enrich learning environments in the Los Alamos public schools.

The Foundation raises money through generous contributions from individuals and organizations who share the Foundation’s core values. To learn more about the LAPS Foundation and how to get involved and/or make a donation, visit or call 505.500.6501.