Art Teacher from IL Takes Students on Art Tours of Chicago, New Orleans and NYC

Susan Dodd is an Art Teacher at Pittsfield High School in Illinois. She’s been taking her art students on city tours for a decade now.  Dodd says many of her students have never been to a museum or a large city.  “I want them to know there is a world outside of Pike County, Illinois,” she says.

When Dodd’s students take an art tour of a major city, the tours span three to four days and groups visit five to six museums and a few galleries. There are other fun things to do while visiting these urban areas, such as watch a theater performance or take a special tour of the city. Over the past 10 years, Dodd’s high school students have visited three major metropolitan areas:  Chicago, New Orleans, and New York City, and taken in the art and culture located in these places.

Points of Interest to Artists in Chicago

Chicago is a city rich in art. It’s also within close proximity to Pittsfield High School, in Pike County, IL — so it seemed like a natural choice for an initial art tour. Dodd and her group took their first overnight art tour of Chicago in 2001.  The class visited The Art Institute as well as the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio.  They also saw Shedd’s Aquarium and the Sears Tower. On a later trip back to Chicago Dodd’s group added a Gangster’s Tour to their itinerary. This was a great success, and students are still talking about it today.  Another high point of the student trip to Chicago was shopping on Michigan Avenue.

Chicago has a great deal to offer art students, but Dodd wanted them to see well beyond their own state.

New Orleans:  A City of Colorful Art and Architecture

Dodd’s family visits New Orleans each year. With this familiarity, it was an easy decision to create an art tour of New Orleans.  “I love the history of New Orleans,” says Dodd, “It is so different from other cities in the U.S.  It is like being in another country except you don’t need a passport!” Dodd says New Orleans art is characterized by a variety of color sprinkled with creativity.  There are many different types of art to view in New Orleans:  thickly painted oils of New Orleans French Quarter houses, abstract portraits of local people, hand blown glass sculptures, personal shrine sculptures, and the world famous Blue Dog series of paintings.  Some of the high points of touring New Orleans included:  the jazz dinner cruise, Mardi Gras World, Destrehan Plantation, and time spent in the French Quarter.

New York City: The Art Capital of the U.S.
New York City is likely the most revered art city in the United States.  So it was inevitable that Susan Dodd would want to take her class on a trip to the Big Apple to take in some of the museums, galleries, and shows there. Some highlights of the student trip to NYC included the Museum of Modern Art, where students viewed many of the paintings studied in art classes. These include: Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Henri Matisse’s Dance, Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory and Pablo Picasso’s Girl Before the Mirror.  Students also visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cloisters and the Morgan Library and Museum, where they viewed works that spanned many historical periods.  The student group also saw a Broadway production of The Lion King, and shopped on 5th Avenue.

Student Learning While Touring
Student’s educational experiences are important while touring.  Before touring museums or special exhibits, Dodd prepares her students with background information about the artists.  She also asks them to hunt for certain works by different artists or look for details in the work.  “I give them a sheet to check off their finds,” said Dodd.  “It makes them concentrate and spend a little more time in the museum,” she added.  She also asks them to sketch their favorite work while they are in museums, and explain why they like the work.  “This helps them with ideas when they’re back in the classroom,’ noted Dodd.

Dodd has a long list of successful former students. One of her former students is an architect in Chicago and another works for a large design company there.  A female student loved their visit to New York City so much that she went back to the city to enroll in college and is now an actress employed with a touring company that is doing well.  Another student is a graphic designer in Kansas City.

Dodd says the art tours she takes students on are well worth it because they add another dimension to her curriculum. In the future she may take her students back to New Orleans or even on an eco tour of Florida.

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College Tours in North & South Carolina

Many parents who want to send their children to college consider sending them to a university in their region or state. This decision helps cut down on travel and tuition costs while young adults are in college.  Taking advantage of educational opportunities in your region or state is a smart idea.

I am based in Hendersonville, North Carolina. I live and work in an area that is only 20 minutes from the South Carolina border.  I put this tour together for high school juniors and seniors because there are some wonderful institutions of higher learning right here in the Carolinas.  For the sake of conciseness and ease of transport for student groups, this tour represents my own short list of colleges I recommend — with ample travel time between destinations.  In my opinion, the schools I have selected are some of the most well known schools in the Carolinas.

Clemson University

Clemson is a large private University located in Clemson, S.C. near the North Carolina border.  There are almost 15,000 undergraduate and 2,500 graduate students enrolled at Clemson University. Physical Sciences, Business and Engineering are the most popular majors.  The Clemson Tigers are notorious on the college football circuit for their orange colors and fierce competitiveness in the sport, as well as a devoted fan base.  The college campus dates to 1893 and was once Fort Hill plantation, the home of Thomas Clemson, the school’s founder and benefactor.  Clemson is rich in scenery, located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Clemson University even has its own lake and forest.

University of South Carolina (USC)

USC is a large state university with a long tradition dating back to 1805. The main campus is in Columbia, SC.  Other locations include Beaufort, Aiken, and the Upstate (Spartantaburg-Greenville).  Four additional two-year campuses are located around the state. USC is becoming distinguished in nanotechnology, health sciences, Future Fuels™, and environment and information technologies.   The main campus in Columbia is well worth a visit. The campus has a horseshoe design with 11 historic buildings overlooking a lush lawn. USC has approximately 28,000 students enrolled. Nearly 20,000 of these are undergraduates.

North Carolina State University (NC State)

NC State is located in the heart of Raleigh, N.C. and has the attributes of an urban university.  Raleigh is the 2nd largest city in North Carolina, with over 400,000 residents. It has a solid reputation for industry and is a leading ‘tech hub’ in the U.S. NC State has over 31,000 students and close to 2,000 faculty members and serves a diverse student population.  The University offers students especially strong programs in agriculture, engineering, forestry, wood and paper science, textiles, veterinary medicine and design.  The Small Business and Technology Development Center has been housed at NC State since 1984 and provides assistance to business owners and entrepreneurs.

Wake Forest University

Located in Winston-Salem, N.C., Wake Forest University is a liberal arts university that is also known for research.  Wake Forest’s undergraduate school gives students a choice of 37 different majors covering business, divinity, law, medicine and other areas. With approximately 7,000 students, Wake Forest University offers the opportunities of a large university along with focused attention to academics and co-curricular activities.

Duke University

Duke is a well-respected school with world-class sports teams.  There are 13,000 undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled at Duke University.  Duke is in the heart of Durham, N.C. a city of approximately 200,000 people. With Duke University Hospital and research there, Duke attracts medical professionals and biotechnology industry leaders.   The Duke Chapel is seen in Gothic West Campus and is an icon for the University. Business, Divinity, Law and Medicine are some of the academic disciplines Duke is known for.  Duke’s Blue Devil men’s basketball team is usually a top competitor in College Basketball.  Duke and University of North Carolina are within a short distance of each other and can easily be visited in the same day.

University of North Carolina (UNC)

There are 16 schools within the UNC system in North Carolina. This tour visits the main campus at UNC Chapel Hill.  UNC has a rich colonial history. It was established in 1789, and was the first public university in a new country. U.S. News and World Report named it 5th best public university in the Best Colleges guidebook for 10 years in a row.  Student enrollment is 18,500 undergraduate and 11,000 graduate students.  UNC has competitive admissions and most of their new enrollment is in the top 10% of their high school class.  UNC is known for its medical program, Kenan-Flagler Business School, and has distinguished faculty in the arts, humanities, social sciences, global affairs and diversity and multicultural affairs. A visit in the spring or fall is the perfect time to take in the campus and see it operating at full capacity.

It is evident there are some excellent universities in the Carolinas. Many of these universities, both public and private, are steeped in the Colonial tradition. European influences emphasized the intellect, higher education, and training in the professions. Students in their junior or senior year of high school will benefit from this tour of colleges in the Carolinas.

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