Piecing It Together

Posted on by Dodge

Elaine Rastocky, Program Associate

If you’re an art teacher looking for the perfect interdisciplinary, service art project, read on!


Helen Phillips Cole, a Dodge Visual Artist/Educator Fellow used a $1,000 mini-grant from the Foundation to engage her students in creating art for a cause (actually, two causes). Using the mosaic tiles at artist Izaiah Zagar’s home as inspiration, Keansburg High School students employed their skills and talent to contribute to their local and global communities.

Starting locally, the students worked with Keansburg’s Revitalization Committee to take existing concrete planters already in use on Town streets and turn them into mosaic beauties for local folks and visitors to enjoy.


The next logical step was to move into a global arena to raise funds to contribute to a humanitarian organization working on children’s issues. After researching various non-profit organizations, the students chose UNICEF to be the recipient of their efforts. Students created, marketed and sold mosaic flower pots with the proceeds going to UNICEF.


In describing the impact of the experience, Keansburg High School Principal Thomas Normile said, “This service learning opportunity allowed our school to give back to the community while providing both a great teaching and learning experience for those involved. Our students, through the assistance of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, have been able to change the landscape of our town through the mosaic tile murals that they added to downtown planters. In addition, our student artists, through the sale of their artwork, have been empowered to help improve the lives of children around the globe.”

Please click here for a PowerPoint presentation of the entire project. And if you want to contact Helen directly, you can send her an email:  HCole@Keansburg.k12.nj.us

We want to know: Have you implemented any art-inspired service projects in your school?


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4 Responses to Piecing It Together

  1. Eileen Lidon says:

    What a wonderful job Helen has done with her students! We are so proud of her. She was recently voted our “Teacher of the Year” for all of her efforts assisting the students and staff at our high school!

  2. Olga Kupczak says:

    Helen Cole is an extraordinary art teacher who has created innovative and cross disciplinary projects which inspire her high school students to contribute art to their town and expolre their community through art. The foundation has assisted her students in procuring supplies to assist in these activites.

  3. Michele Russo says:

    Beautiful work! It’s amazing how far $1,000 can go when you have a strong vision and support! Both the artistic exploration and the service aspect of this project are commendable.

  4. Barb Miller says:

    Helen continues to be an inspiration to her students, bringing them not only an introduction to the beauty of their world through art, but providing them with functional life skills every step of the way. Thank you Helen for being an inspiration to your contemporaries as well, with your caring, nurturing ways of living your life.

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