WAUKESHA -- A local program is helping schools incorporate art into their curriculums. It's a partnership that's leaving a lasting impression on the surrounding community.
Kids crowded into a stairwell at Carroll University and waited to see a mural each one had a hand at creating. It was a moment months in the making.
The process began earlier this year inside classrooms at four Waukesha schools -- Banting Elementary School, Summit View Elementary School, Whittier Elementary School and La Casa de Esperanza.
Second and third graders participated in the art project.
The assignment came from each school's partnership with SHARP Literacy. SHARP Literacy is a non-profit educational organization serving more than 8,500 students in Milwaukee and Waukesha.
"We give students experiences that they normally wouldn't have," explained Lynda Kohler, President & CEO of SHARP Literacy.
Kohler says one of SHARP's missions is to enhance education through the visual arts. One of the ways this is done is through community murals.
"We have probably over twenty-some murals in the city of Milwaukee," Kohler said.
It's possible you have seen the murals. They are at places like the War Memorial, Miller Park and General Mitchell International Airport.
Each mural crafted by a different group of local students.
All of the projects led by one local artist -- Sally Duback.
Duback says she's known since she was young that art was her passion.
"I've always been obsessed with art ever since I was a child," Duback said.
She believes the community murals offer children a new opportunity to explore.
"If they have art or this kind of work in their history it will give them something to draw from. It gives them a bag of tools," Duback said.
For the piece at Carroll University, Duback and SHARP Literacy asked students to help by creating drawings from their experiences in Waukesha.
"When you think about Waukesha - where you live - what do you think about? What do you see?" Kohler recalled the kids being asked.
The principal of Banting Elementary School -- Mary Garcia-Velez -- says learning about the Waukesha community is part of the third-grade curriculum and ties directly into what they're learning in the classroom.
With those ideas in hand, a bigger picture began to take shape. Duback created an entire landscape featuring different buildings and items from the students. She then sketched it on to large pieces of wood and the kids helped form the rest.
Duback joined the students in the classroom every week to create tiles, glaze tiles and then place them alongside beads, broken CDs, seashells and more.
"This is a very spontaneous process," Duback said.
Each small piece part of the larger image of Waukesha landmarks designed by Duback.
"Each school has only seen a third of it and they've seen it lying horizontal on the table," Duback said.
Back at Carroll University, the reveal of the completed mural was the moment they'd all been waiting for.
Inside the campus center, the final piece was unveiled to the delight of its creators.
It's called, "Discover Waukesha."
Just as the mural hangs as a permanent fixture at Carrol, the lessons learned through this project won't soon fade.
"They're going to look up at that and really be proud of what they've done," Kohler said.
"They're doing something that has lasting value," Duback said.
SHARP Literacy offers several different programs serving K4 through 5th grade. The program just recently expanded into Waukesha and Kohler hopes to expand even further in the near future.