Art Making at The House of Hope

This semester, art education students enrolled in the Methods of Elementary Art Education course taught by art education instructor, Wendy Miller, will be teaching in an alternative setting at The House of Hope in Waterloo. The House of Hope is a is a two-year transitional housing program for homeless, single mothers and their children. In the past, students have gained valuable experience developing an after-school art club for Price Lab students on campus. In the wake of the closing of Price Lab, a new venue presented itself through building a relationship between art education and The House of Hope.


Students will work in small groups over the next six weeks, teaching art to children living at the shelter, while their mothers attend evening classes,and develop skills to live independently. At the end of the six weeks, the Waterloo Public Library will host a month-long art display of work made by the children in the art club. In order to prepare for this experience, students will read a series of articles about homelessness, meet with the director of the shelter, and plan art lessons under supervision of their instructor.


The Iowa Department of Education requires all pre-service teachers to take a class focusing on teaching students with special needs in order to become better prepared to teach these students. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, Iowa’s special education population makes up 13% of our schools’ enrollment. Children living below the poverty line in Iowa make up 15.9%, according to the 2010 report put out by The Homeless Children of America organization. While poverty is no guarantee of special education services, it is certainly a special need. 


This program is an opportunity for art education students to step out of their comfort zone in order to gain experience teaching art to children while exploring major issues of poverty, domestic violence, and service-learning, all centered around homelessness in the Cedar Valley. The hope is that working with these children will help art education students develop a better understanding of the diverse populations they will serve, along with the skills and strategies they will need to best teach these children and most importantly to brighten the day of children living without some of life’s most basic needs.