Doris Duke's Rough Point (Photo via Newport Restoration Foundation)

The following was written by Marcin Rembisz, Newport Public Schools

At the end of every school year 4th grade students from Pell Elementary in the Newport Schools District anxiously await the Rough Point experience through the Newport Restoration Foundation. This opportunity exists through a Community Enrichment Grant funded by the Newport Public Education Foundation (NPEF) and awarded to the Newport Restoration Foundation. Approximately 180 fourth graders engage in a multi-faceted program for students beginning with in-class visits by an NRF educator, a student field trip to Rough Point, art making in the classroom and with students displaying their artwork as part of Rough Point’s annual exhibit.

With the onset of COVID19 and students quarantined at home and only distance learning at hand, the ability for a Newport Restoration Foundation museum educator to visit each classroom to give the students a presentation and introduce them to Rough Point and Doris Duke has diminished. In addition, the students cannot visit Rough Point, produce art in the classroom as a result of the trip nor display their art at Rough Point as part of the 2020 special exhibit.

As creativity has pushed itself into the forefront with the onset of distance learning, a new collaboration and first of its kind revealed itself making history and memories with the Rough Point field trip experience.

On May 14th at 2:00pm, 4th grade students will engage in a Virtual Tour of several of NRF’s historic buildings, including Rough Point, through ZOOM technology. The Virtual Tour will highlight key historic buildings in Newport, as well as the artwork and objects in the Rough Point representing a variety of cultures and artistic traditions. 

The week prior to the tour, NRF’s Director of Museums, Dr. Erik Greenberg, provided several live and videotaped webinars for Pell’s 4th graders, exploring the themes of the tour as preparation for their Virtual Field Trip. Dr. Greenberg also fielded student questions and  comments.

In the closing weeks of Pell Elementary School, students will produce artwork in their Art Google classrooms in which Art educators will create a digital portfolio to share with NRF, which they will display on their social media accounts and inside of Rough Point when the museum opens later this summer.  

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