McKinley is extremely fortunate to have contracted with one of McKinley’s neighborhood art centers, the San Diego Ceramics Connection, to provide ceramics instruction at our school.  Kouta Shimazaki, the director of SDCC, is a Japanese Master potter that has been working with clay for over 20 years.

Watch this video about Kouta that was produced by the McKinley Film Crew in 2012. The Film Crew consisted of two 5th graders: Ivan and Susan, and three 4th graders: Emily, Kaylee and Karlo.

Our children have thrived under Kouta’s tutelage.  His extensive experience in providing ceramics instruction at local schools (including Albert Einstein Charter School, Grant Elementary,  Roosevelt Middle School, and St. Augustine’s High School) combined with his enthusiasm and passion for his art have touched our children beyond description.  Kouta’s passion can be seen in his description of what art provides for our kids:

Art is….real, art is raw, art is future, art is power, art is discipline, art is culture, art is confidence, art is communication….art is a way of life. Art is alive in all of us. It’s a way to convey our feelings and share what we are about. Art teaches us to share our knowledge, skills and also encourages us to appreciate the beauty that’s all around us.  Experiencing the tactile input through molding a simple piece of clay could be as powerful and satisfying experience as learning to read or play an instrument for the first time. Art can teach children how to follow instruction, how to problem solve, and give children the sense of accomplishment and confidence that they long for in school. Art/clay teaches you to be patient and that’s what we are all missing in this world!

Art is food for our lives and that’s why we so desperately need art in our lives.

Kouta’a program provides of a 6 week session, consisting of weekly 60 minute classes, for each of our kindergarten through fifth grade classes (reaching a total of 420 students) each year.  His classes range from making tiles and creating creatures, to throwing pots and making piggy banks. Through the McKinley Foundation, the school has also been able to purchase and install a kiln in our art studio/occupational therapy room and one of our parent volunteers has built four tables on which the students make their creations – creating a real life ceramics studio on our campus.