Connecting the Community at Blackshear
Blackshear Elementary School recently received a Blue Ribbon Distinction – the only school in central Texas and 1 of 28 schools in Texas. Diana Su, Page architect and volunteer of the schoolyard master plan project, was invited to celebrate Blackshear’s achievements.
The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. The award gives national level credit to the tireless efforts and hard work of the staff, parents, and students at Blackshear.
In 2014, Blackshear became AISD’s first elementary school fine arts academy - a transformation that helped boost enrollment by 39%. The teachers combine traditional schooling with a creative and artistic approach. The school continues to revitalize their program with efforts from staff, parents, students and volunteers.
The Blackshear Elementary Schoolyard has really been a labor of love for Diana. She began volunteering for the project back in fall 2013 to develop a new schoolyard master plan. One of her biggest contributions is her continuous effort to build and strengthen a network of partnerships to ensure the school will have the resources it needs to further grow and improve.
Diana and Page Senior Associate and Designer Cheryl White are helping to connect Blackshear with several interior furniture resources. They have recently partnered up with Social Design Alliance who has taken on the task of spearheading the coordination of donations. Page Principal Wendy Dunnam Tita has also contributed to building a great network of folks by providing furniture vendor contacts to help with the task.
Later this year, Diana and Cheryl plan to expand on the project by creating a storyteller chair that is being designed with a local furniture fabricator in East Austin. The chair, along with the students’ artwork, will debut at Little East - AISD’s elementary school exhibit that is part of the EAST Austin studio tour in November.
Art Alliance Austin has also graciously teamed up with our two Pagers for an open call competition for the design of a mural on the north facade. They’re aiming to have this installed and unveiled at the Fusebox festival in April. The selection will be made with the guidance of a jury of artists, AISD, and community leaders.
Diana and Cheryl are also planning for a partnership with the University of Texas Department of Civil Engineering and the City of Austin Watershed Department to design rain gardens in the spring. City grant funds will be used to later install them in the fall.
Blackshear has a lot of exciting changes planned for the new year, and we're honored to be a part of it!