In the Spring 2022, we started a new mural project at Russo/McEntee Academy. This school is special in that it is focused on environmental justice and sustainability. The students have a school garden, a environmental justice club that picks up trash from the school grounds after school, milkweed for monarchs, and more.
Principal Tanu Kohli was instrumental in helping to make this project happen. We met with her to talk about the process, which first included a watershed education program called Mr Adventure's Journey to Coyote Creek, where we visited the school for two days and provided a visual and interactive presentation where Mr Adventure and his naturalist friend take students through a multi-sensory experience about Coyote Creek. Students provided feedback on what they'd like to see on the mural.
Principal Tanu Kohli with the finished mural and Mr Adventure's Journey to Coyote Creek
Progression of mural design
We held a mural paint day in May where the students could participate in painting the mural from the very beginning and watch the progression during the summer. They had a lot of fun, and were able to see each group add to the mural.
Mural paint day with students. Superintendent Hilaria Bauer stopped by to see the effort by the students.
Since the school incorporates social emotional learning curricula, these elements were also included on the mural through the four words that all students learn: Compassionate, Safe, Respectful, and Responsible. Additionally, groups of people and kids caring for their garden and school grounds were included.
Students are greeted each morning with a positive message about nature that connects to their educational vision that offers “a rigorous, and innovative learning climate that promotes the growth of environmentally literate students capable of stewarding our planet.” By setting the stage through this colorful and connected entrance, the students and staff can start their day with nature in mind.
Special thanks to Paul J Gonzalez for his vision and partnership, Principal Tanu Kohli for her willingness to say "yes" to this project and help acquire funding, and Superintendent Hilaria Bauer for connecting KCCB to Principal Kohli for watershed education and supporting the mural. The mural was completed in August 2022.
This mural was created with funds from Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful donors, Alum Rock Union School District, Valley Water Safe, Clean Water grant, San Jose Council District 5.