Many Germantown Academy Upper School students spent the better part of the 2018-2019 school year exploring the nearby borough of Ambler, a rejuvenated town just around the corner from GA’s campus, as part of “Looking at Ambler,” a multi-disciplinary, multi-departmental, collaborative project, which included visual art, performing art, English, history, math, and science classes. Faculty across these disciplines worked collaboratively to develop curricula exploring the town, its residents, and most importantly its evolution over the many years. Students shared their findings with the greater Upper School community during an April 17 assembly in the Arts Center Auditorium. Classes that participated in “Looking at Ambler” included:
- AP U.S. History—Judy Krouse 1760
- Environmental Science—Phil Rittenhouse 1760
- Honors Statistics – Ruth Carver
- AP Environmental Science—Richard O’Hern
- Honors Drawing/Painting—David Love
- Honors Sculpture—Sara Krupnick-Ritz
- Honors Digital Media—Dainis Roman
- Honors Photo—Nic Wynia
Watch the assembly below.
“I’m most proud of working collaboratively, side-by -side with colleagues from other departments,” said Upper School Visual Arts Department Chair David Love, who led this deep study of Ambler since its inception. “GA is full of amazing teachers who are experts in their field and super ambitious. In passing moments, we always talk about how we wished we could collaborate more. Here’s an example of a project where all those ideas actually came together. I’m also proud that we expanded students experiences in a real way. Too often we presume that they know something about the world or their environment, but then we are surprised to find out that they in fact aren’t aware. Ambler’s been through a lot and its right next door. You might be forgiven if you don’t have understanding about some distant part of the world, but you have to understand your immediate environment.
“GA students and teachers are amazing and an incredible resource,” added Love. “If you remain open and receptive to new ideas, if you give folks a challenge or an opportunity to shine, they’ll come through in brilliant ways. Also, learning is enhanced when you “bundle” ideas together-they feed off and inform each other dynamically. Each of the different disciplines involved, deepened the understanding of the other areas and vice versa.”
Since the assembly, all GA Upper School students were given three opportunities visit and explore Ambler during mini field trips. The Upper School Arts Department also held its closing reception for “Looking at Ambler: Observations by Germantown Academy Visual Arts Students,” an exhibit held at Cellini Studios and Gallery (13 Poplar Street , 2nd floor, Ambler, PA 19002).
“I’m not sure what’s next, but even if it’s not a specific project, this experience will definitey come in to influence the entire Visual Arts Department,” said Love. “We are lucky our curriculum is flexible enough that we do this kind of collaborative work all the time. Yearly exhibits with the Middle School and Lower School, collaborations with Penn Charter, thematic explorations. Arts thrive on this, so it’s just part of what we do. Think of jazz musicians or actors improvising. But the focus on an exploration of a specific place is a little new, but I think that will grow.”