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Bound for Success at Power2Give


Community Collaborations


Bound for Success: Bookmaking in Mitchell County Schools

“It was hard to learn so many facts about the moon – before this project I never really paid attention.”  –  Mitchell County 3rd grade student

Penland’s Community Collaboration crafts powerful learning experiences for youth, deepening their connection with curriculum and engaging their creative minds.  Beginning today, there’s an exciting new way you can help us keep students bound for success, as Penland joins for its Western North Carolina launch.  is an online cultural marketplace that makes it easier for you to nurture specific Penland programs that you are passionate about. We are launching our participation with a project that is near and dear to our hearts: bringing high quality bookmaking experiences to 3rd, 4th and 9th grade students in Mitchell County.  By following the link below, you can find out more about the project and your options for helping to bring this magical experience to students in the classroom. Today’s launch also provides a special opportunity to double your contribution through NC Arts Council matching funds.  Matching funds are limited, so we are hoping you will jump right in!

Click the link below to visit our page at Power2Give, where you can learn more about this project and, if you like, make a donation:

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Deyton Elementary’s Batik Week

Deyton Elementary School's Batik Week
On Community Batik Day, Mitchell County students, parents, and teachers gather around as artist-in-residence Leni Newell explains waxing – one of the detailed steps of the batik process.

With a grant provided by the North Carolina Arts Council, in collaboration with Penland School of Crafts, Deyton Elementary School in Spruce Pine recently hosted “Batik Week.”  Every day for one week, artist-in-residence Leni Newell led fourth grade students step-by-step through the process, which involves melted wax and vibrant fabric dyes. Batik art has African and Indonesian roots and completed art can be framed, sewn into a pillow, or quilted.

Art teacher Samantha Hundley was instrumental in choosing Ms. Newell for the residency. “Batik is a great art form because it can be done individually or with a group, and Ms. Newell has an emphasis on teaching students and getting the entire community involved,” she said.

As part of the residency, on September 19th Deyton invited Mitchell County residents to participate in making a community banner that will decorate the halls of the school. Parents, teachers, and students worked side by side to learn the process of Batik.

“I’ve studied Batik art for over 25 years, and I love teaching it because it is an amazingly successful, self-esteem boosting art form,” commented artist Leni Newell. “Anyone can pick up a tool and make a completed piece without previous experience.”

If you are a teacher and are interested in applying to host an artist-in-residence, please contact Penland’s community collaborations manager, Stacey Lane, at 828-765-8060 or Penland School is excited to explore new ways of supporting art education in the local schools.

– Shannon Moon

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Glass in the Mountains, September 20th – 23rd

Glass in the Mountains

The year 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the birth of the Studio Glass Movement. The Toe River Valley, home to the father of studio glass, Harvey Littleton, and over 50 other glass artists, is celebrating by hosting a weekend of events September 20-23, happening in and around Burnsville, Spruce Pine, Bakersville, Micaville, and Penland, North Carolina.

It’s a great weekend to learn about the glass community that has settled around Penland School and enjoy the beauty of the Toe River Valley. The weekend will include studio tours, glass blowing demonstrations, a gallery hop of glass exhibitions, including A History of Glass in the Toe Valley at the Toe River Arts Council in Spruce Pine, and gala evening featuring a lecture and book signing of A Life in Glass by author Joan Falconer Byrd at the Burnsville Town Center. The Penland Gallery will be featuring works in glass by local and national artists associated with Penland School.

You can click here for more information about Glass in the Mountains.

And you can click here to download a tour map for the weekend (PDF – 1.4MB).

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“Story Looms” at the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival

Stacey Lane
Stacey Lane, Penland’s community collaborations manager, shows off the “story looms” created for the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival in Burnsville. Photo courtesy of WTOE Online.


“Burnsville’s Carolina Mountains Literary Festival and Penland School of Crafts are cooperating this year with teachers at area elementary schools on a weaving  project that encourages reading, writing and creative thinking. Using the festival’s theme, which is Landscapes of Imagination, second through fifth grade classes have been offered small “story looms” in which the students weave their ideas and wishes into a class-designed landscape of many colored ribbons…”

Click here to read the complete article at

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Serving Children Living in Poverty

A Report from Penland Community Collaborations

By Shannon Moon

Penland Community Collaborations Stacey Lane
Penland Community Collaborations' Stacey Lane interprets the emotion 'surprise,' in an exercise demonstrating that certain expressions are hard-wired and easy to communicate, while others, like 'compassion' and 'gratitude,' are more subtle. The workshop explored potential pitfalls in communicating with families living in poverty.

A 2011 survey by the U.S. Census Bureau ranked North Carolina the 10th poorest state in the Nation. That same year, a Huffington Post article identified North Carolina as having “one of the lowest median incomes in the country.” Also in 2011, as in previous years, the North Carolina Department of Commerce designated Mitchell County, where Penland is located, as Tier 1, meaning it is among the 40 most distressed counties in North Carolina.

With our Community Open House, Teaching Artist Initiative, and other projects, Penland’s Community Collaborations program reaches out to over 1500 local children and families. As part of our effort to better serve Mitchell County, Community Collaborations Staff recently attended the workshop “Serving Children Living in Poverty,” hosted by Communities in Schools North Carolina and Mayland Community College. With over 40 participants including educators, social service providers, members of the justice system, and more, the seminar brought together a broad range of perspectives and a wide reach into our local community.

The seminar shared important truths, some obvious, some inconspicuous, about poverty, because we can only begin to effectively engage with families living in poverty if we first understand what that means.

Poverty does not only create issues of hunger and shelter, but also shifts the way a person thinks, interacts with the world, and communicates. Living in poverty fosters a survival mentality, diverting attention from planning for future opportunities to addressing the immediate crises at hand, like ‘how am I going to fill the gas tank to drive to work?’ or ‘where am I going to get the money to feed my children?’ This can make it challenging for even the best-intentioned of neighbors to offer assistance in respectful and effective ways.

Walking away from the workshop, we all agreed that better understanding our neighbors is the first step to helping in our community. The second step, then, is building positive relationships with them.

Penland’s Community Collaborations Program and Teaching Artist Meg Peterson have worked with Mitchell County Schools, incorporating art into the classroom, for over 10 years. This summer we are excited to work with the Mitchell County organizations Communities in Schools and Service Center for Latinos to provide mentorship  opportunities for students with English as a second language. We will also be working with Communities in Schools to partner with a local school where Penland staff and community members can mentor students living in challenging situations.

Here are a few things we learned that anyone can do to help:

– You can be a consistent and stable role model. Investigate local opportunities to volunteer as a mentor in schools or after-school programs. Students who’ve had limited opportunities can have their perspective broadened by conversations with a mentor.

– Pay attention and try to be aware of what is going on with the people around you. Someone you know may be living in poverty, and there may be a simple way for you to reach out to them, like offering to share a ride to work.

– Seek and share knowledge. A good starting place is with books like A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby K. Payne, Bridges Out of Poverty by Ruby K. Payne, Philip E. DeVol, and Terie Dreussi Smith, and the PBS project People Like Us: Social Class in America. Share information with friends and neighbors about local services and resources.

– Be patient and persistent. While free resources might seem like a golden opportunity to those used to having them offered, people living in poverty are often forced to live in survival mode and don’t always have the luxury of planning for and seeking out opportunities for advancement. Offering someone a hand multiple times gives them the choice to take action when they are ready.

– If you’re local and want to get involved, contact for more information.

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Fire on the Mountain: Nol Putnam Blacksmithing Lecture Saturday Night

Blacksmith Nol Putnam
Photograph by Roger Foley.

Please join us for a lecture by master blacksmith Nol Putnam in Northlight Auditorium at Penland School, at 8:15pm on Saturday, April 28th.

Nol Putnam opened his first forge in 1973. He taught himself the craft with the help of books, stubbornness, and a mentor. Starting in the early 1980s he undertook large architectural commissions – gates, balconies, and curved handrails. While he still does a few commissions, his work since 2001 has largely been sculptural, ranging in size from the palm of the hand to architectural scale.

Nol is the featured master blacksmith at Fire on the Mountain Blacksmithing Festival, which will take place in downtown Spruce Pine from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, April 28th. Featured demonstrators at this year’s festival also include April Franklin and Mike Chmielewski.

To see more of Nol’s work, you can visit

Hope to see you at the festival and Nol’s lecture!