Werth Family Foundation Student Docent Program
Now in its eighteenth year, the Werth Family Foundation: HMA Student Docent Program introduces students to art, architecture and history. Since its inception, the Student Docent Program has offered supplemental arts education to 17 underserved Bridgeport schools, trained over 700 students to be peer docents, and hosted over 4,000 student visitors. During 2017-2018, the program has provided both training for 135 students, and the opportunity for peer docents to conduct tours for over 400 of their classmates.
Over the last 30 years, there has been a steady erosion of arts education in schools. The arts, however, have been shown time and again to be an essential component of the learning process. Not only do the arts enhance education overall, but also they are fundamental to teaching “soft skills” like empathy, cooperation and collaboration, so necessary to success in both work and life. Studies have repeatedly shown that youth participation in extra-curricular arts programs leads to increased academic and civic achievements.
Over the years, the HMA has partnered with art and cultural organizations to promote and support new or developing activities, including those for educational outreach. The most recent examples include the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities that partnered with the HMA to present an art show that featured Turnaround Artist Chuck Close and the students in his program at Roosevelt School, followed by a three-year partnership with Thom Mayne at Hall School with an emphasis on architecture. This year the HMA will partner with the Freeman Houses to introduce Bridgeport middle school students to the history of Little Liberia, the process of restoring historic homes, and the importance of this work in revitalizing neighborhoods and preserving significant landmarks.