‘A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words’ in the CALTA Program for Adults Developed by Queensborough and the Nassau County Museum Of Art

Less than a year after forming a partnership to apply visual art as a catalyst for the development of literacy and critical thinking, the Queensborough Community College Literacy Program and the Nassau County Museum of Art have launched Culture and Literacy through Art (CALTA), a pilot program developed for adult English language learners (ELLs) and their families. The program, introduced at a three-day institute beginning June 14 at the Nassau County Museum of Art, is made possible through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

“While visual thinking strategies are often used at the elementary school level, CALTA is the first initiative of its kind to offer adult English language learners and their families new and innovative ways of approaching literacy,” said Kitty Bateman, J.D., Associate Professor of Basic Educational Skills and Director, QCC Literacy Program.

The institute featured training and discussion of visual thinking strategies which included QCC literacy teachers and students; CUNY staff developers and docents from the museum’s staff.

Introductory remarks were made by Karl Emil Willers, Ph.D., Director of the Nassau County Museum of Art, who said that, “Our partnership with educators at Queensborough has helped make the visual arts relevant and accessible to a growing audience for which English is a second language. This is important work that encourages all museum mentors to advance the English language skills that are so vital to participating and sharing in community life.”

In her opening remarks, Amy Chase Gulden, Regional Director of Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS©) for New York commented that, “a work of art is universal, and in VTS, everyone’s interpretation is equally valuable.”

Patricia Lannes, Director of Education at the Nassau County Museum of Art and a strong proponent of Visual Thinking Strategies added that, “this project will allow us to use museums and art as a catalyst for English language development and personal empowerment of the immigrant community.”

Students participating in the CALTA Institute —all of whom are non-native speaking immigrants—aspire to learn English language skills. Queensborough offers free instruction in English as a Second Language under the auspices of the Department of Continuing Education and Workforce Development and the CUNY Office of Academic Affairs and is funded by the Mayor’s Office of Adult Literacy, and the New York State Department of Education’s Workforce Investment Act.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about CALTA, please visit www.cultureandliteracy.org

Queensborough is celebrating its 50th Anniversary throughout the 2009-10 academic year, with a series of special events, programs, openings, exhibits and performances. The College, located on a picturesque 37-acre site in Bayside, Queens, offers a rich liberal arts and science curriculum, as well as career and pre-professional courses. Over half of the faculty holds doctorates compared with 21% of faculty in other community colleges nationwide. Comprising one of the most diverse populations of any college in the U.S., more than 15,000 students pursue an Associate degree or Certificate program and another 10,000 students of all ages attend continuing education programs. Among the campus’s prized resources are the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center, the QCC Art Gallery, and the Queensborough Performing Arts Center (QPAC), created to stimulate ideas and intellectual curiosity while exposing students and the public to culture and the arts. Please visit our website at qcc.cuny.edu.

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