Once upon a time, in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, on the shore of beautiful blue Lake Tahoe was the little community of South Lake Tahoe, California. Children studied hard and learned to read, write, and do their arithmetic.
But something was missing! Art was missing! And this was about to change!
Living in the town was Darlynn Babb-Sharpe, a woman with a vision. She recognized the need to offer art in the elementary schools. She created a structured program to be presented by trained volunteers at the Bijou and Al Tahoe Schools. The program was designed to meet the California State Standards for Arts Education. Darlynn obtained grants from the local Soroptimist clubs, purchased portfolios of fine art pictures and developed what was called the Elementary Arts Program. She directed the program from 2001 to 2003.
Gina Stowell became the next director and expanded the Elementary Arts Program to include all four public elementary schools and St. Theresa Catholic School. Now about 1800 students in South Lake Tahoe and the nearby little town of Meyers, California were receiving visits from volunteers, learning about art and creating colorful expressive artwork in the classroom. Gina served until 2008.
Following Ms Stowell’s tenure, Joy Rogers led the program. During this time the name was changed to BATS, Bringing Art to Schools. Joy initiated field trips to the Lake Tahoe Community College Haldan Art Gallery for students to view fine art in a professional gallery setting. She invited local artists to visit the classroom for special projects. Three large art pieces were created and now hang in the El Dorado County Courthouse. She partnered with the El Dorado County Branch Library to provide space in the Children’s Room for the schools to display student art created during the BATS lessons. Joy directed the program until 2011.
Penny Fairfield became the BATS administrator in 2011, succeeding Joy Rogers. Penny continued the growth of the program over the years. Penny has developed an excellent group of new board members to carry the program into the future, reaching all students in South Lake Tahoe school district.
As of January 2015, Krystal Long accepted the BATS Director position. Krystal returned home to Tahoe in 2014 and became active in the BATS program in the classroom with her children. She brought new ideas, management expertise, community networking, and lots of enthusiasm to the organization. Additionally, Krystal procured BATS it's CA 501c3 NonProfit status in 2016 making it easier for the organization to apply for and receive grants and awards that allow the BATS program to function.
In addition to the Board, each school site has its own Lead Volunteer who coordinates the program at that facility. Over 200 dedicated parents, college students, and retired community members volunteer to bring ART into the schools. They visit their assigned class a minimum of five times a year to bring an art lesson to their students. In the spring each school presents a huge art show, displaying selected pieces from each student. The children are so proud of their work and love sharing it with families, friends and neighbors.
And the story of BATS, Bringing Art to School, is not over yet! Chapters are still being written.
Join the BATS Program Today!
If you would like to participate as a volunteer art presenter in the BATS program, you will be joining a dedicated corps of approximately 100 volunteers. BATS provides training and mentoring for new volunteers.
We visit our classroom five times during the school year. Using a grade specific portfolio, we present five fine art prints based on a theme. Following a discussion of the prints, the volunteer leads the children in an art project related to the theme. The portfolios all contain examples of fun art projects that have been successfully completed in the past.