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Muskingum e-News: Feature Stories
October 2010


The Art of Being a Muskie: HEALING THROUGH ART

Angela Lyonsmith '99 working with children in East Africa“Be aware of the impact you can have all around you. There are so many paths to do good.” -Angela Burkhardt Lyonsmith ’99

Throughout her Muskingum career Angela Lyonsmith intended to go to medical school upon graduation. Even with that career goal, she “couldn’t help but double major” – in neuroscience and art with a minor in psychology. During her senior year she realized that she wanted “to be in a place where I could work with people applying my passion for both art and science.” She found her perfect fit in the field of art therapy.

And yet an additional desire pulled at Angela’s heart. She had always wanted to go to Africa. She debated between the Peace Corps and graduate school. A scholarship offer from the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago to join its acclaimed graduate program in art therapy was the deciding factor.

Angela got a job directly after receiving her master’s degree, but eventually was once again pulled to join the Peace Corps. She learned about an opportunity to work with deaf children in Ghana, and then another life-changing event intervened – she met the man who would become her husband.

In 2008, the pieces finally came together. Angela was invited to join the art therapy faculty at the School of the Art Institute
of Chicago
and responded to a call by a colleague to help develop a therapeutic arts program in conjunction with Global Alliance for Africa in East Africa.

East Africa: Kenya and TanzaniaGAA works with East African communities and households to “provide sustainable care and support for orphans and other vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS,” according to the organization’s website. Through its work, the organization had witnessed that art “was a way to reach out and engage children; a normalizing means to safely express grief and create meaning for traumatic experiences,” said Angela.

Angela and her colleague, Cathy Moon, spent the summers of ’08 and ’09 in Kenya and Tanzania working with children and with East African artists and cultural workers. They did not want to export the western notion of art therapy; instead, they wanted to find a way to share ideas about healing that could make sense in their cultural context. Their goal is to remove themselves from the process as soon as possible.

The resulting therapeutic arts training manual, informed by an East African perspective and developed in collaboration with para-professional trainees, will eventually be used by East Africans to train others in therapeutic arts theory and practice. It is intended to be an evolving, living document that will be adapted to the unique contexts in which it is used.

Will Angela return to East Africa? “I have developed significant relationships, but will only return in this role as long as I am needed,” she said, “I hope to show my daughter what is possible in collaboration with others.”

Angela would be glad to talk to any Muskies who would like to know more about art therapy or about Chicago. You can contact her through Muskingum's alumni office.



Muskingum educators & others who met with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
IN THE PHOTO: Muskingum educators and others who met with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Clockwise from lower left: Clair Craft; Theodore Hershberg; Thomas Gibbs, Warren Local Schools Superintendent and Muskingum graduate faculty; Melissa Cropper; James Mahoney, Battelle for Kids Executive Director and Muskingum graduate faculty; Ken Blood, East Muskingum Schools Board of Education President and Muskingum faculty; Rick Studer, Battelle for Kids, Muskingum ’67; Dennis Meade; Barbara Hansen; April Domine

When U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and his staff wanted information about rural education improvement initiatives, they turned to
Dr. Barbara Hansen, Dave Longaberger Distinguished Professor for Teaching and Learning and Distinguished Professor of Education, and other members of the Muskingum community. Ten education leaders – five of them affiliated with Muskingum – were invited to Washington to present the Rural Transformation Model developed by the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative in partnership with Battelle for Kids.

A typical meeting with Secretary Duncan lasts about ten minutes – he receives 30,000 requests each year for meetings and is able to fulfill about 10 percent – but the Ohio educators spent 45 minutes with the Secretary during their ninety-minute meeting.

Weeks later, Ohio became one of 10 winners of the federal government’s Race to the Top education funding. Ohio’s award includes “$7,000,000 for the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative initiative,” according to Dr. Hansen. When a reporter for the New York Times asked about Race to the Top funding for rural schools, the Secretary cited Ohio's Appalachian Collaborative, calling it "fantastic."

Dr. Barbara Hansen, Dave Longaberger Distinguished Professor for Teaching and Learning and Distinguished Professor of EducationDr. Hansen isa founding member and co-leader of the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative. The organization began several years ago when a group of school superintendents met to find ways to collaborate in addressing the unique needs of rural schools.

Today, the collaborative represents 21 school districts, 79 schools, 2,270 teachers and 35,400 students. Battelle for Kids, a nationally-recognized leader in educational improvement, is its partner.

  • Its mission - to accelerate college/career-readiness for every student
  • Its goal – a successful model that can be applied/put into practice in rural areas throughout the country

According to the organization, Ohio has the fourth largest rural school enrollment in the country. The collaborative’s innovative Rural Transformation Model builds on the strength of Appalachian Ohio’s strong sense of community and culture, while also addressing the challenges of the region’s poverty and resulting low funding per pupil. The multi-year initiative will use collaboration, communication, technology and training in six key areas:

  • Increasing college/career-readiness
  • Enhancing teacher quality
  • Using data to inform practice
  • Developing leaders
  • Engaging the community
  • Recognizing excellence

The Washington connection didn’t end with one meeting. “They indicated to us that they want to stay in touch and for us to inform them of the progress we’re making,” Dr. Hansen stated in an interview with the Zanesville Times-Recorder.

Dr. Hansen was chair of the 28th annual world conference of the International Alliance for Invitational Education, held September 29-October 2, 2010 in Columbus, Ohio. Muskingum University was co-host for the event. Click here for conference information.