The McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture will begin expanding its ¡Vamos al Museo! (Let’s Go to the Museum!) program to serve Hispanic students at Norwood Elementary School, thanks to a gift from an anonymous donor.
The program, which began in fall 2017 and is led by Curator of Education Leslie Chang Jantz, offers shared learning experiences for native Spanish speakers and promotes the museum as an accessible and welcoming space.
Through sponsorship by the Cornerstone Foundation, the McClung Museum was able to subsidize the cost of transportation, educational materials, and part-time education staff to make the events free for participating families.
With the funding from Cornerstone, McClung staff were able stretch the budget to host eight events, doubling their original estimate.
“We have made such an impact in the Lonsdale community,” said Chang Jantz. “And now, thanks to a generous donor, we will be able to spread that impact to Norwood Elementary’s Hispanic student population.”
The McClung staff have begun to attend functions at Norwood Elementary to get to know the community, make themselves more approachable, and ensure that the museum projects a welcoming atmosphere.
After reading a story on UT’s website about ¡Vamos al Museo!, PhD student Paula Perilla-Castillo, of Bogota, Colombia, reached out to Chang Jantz to become involved with the program.
“You’re always used to seeing everything in English unless you’re in the languages or on the International House website,” said Perilla-Castillo. “So it was a surprise to open the main website and find something in Spanish. Then Leslie explained the activity and it sounded very interesting and something to connect with my culture.
“I might not be from the same country as the visitors, but we share the Latino culture and the same language. And some of these persons don’t speak a word of English or their knowledge is very limited, so they can’t participate in many activities in Knoxville. But ¡Vamos al Museo! was different; it was inclusive and educational and that was appealing for me.”
The McClung Museum will wrap up ¡Vamos al Museo! with the Lonsdale community in March 2019. Events with Norwood Elementary will begin in the fall of 2019.
“This is an exciting development for the program,” said Chang Jantz. “It is important that we continue to reach out to more families and offer them the same opportunity to discover the McClung’s collection.”
Lindsey Owen (865-974-2225, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Leslie Chang Jantz (865-974-3662, email@example.com)