History of Beaverton Art Literacy

       The fall of 1979 led Louise Gustafson, a Chehalem elementary school parent with previous experience in volunteer led art programs in Texas and Arizona, on a journey to begin a volunteer based art program in Beaverton Oregon.


          The pilot, and later final format, for the Art Literacy program was developed in response to art being downsized in the Beaverton School District. Chehalem principal, Jack Kirby, supported Gustafson's efforts to create a volunteer based art program provided it was self-sustaining and viable for varied student populations. He proposed the pilot include both Chehalem and Aloha Park Elementary schools.

·         The pilot consisted of four artist lessons presented January through April in the spring of 1980 at both Chehalem and Aloha Park. The artists were Vincent Van Gogh, Pieter Bruegel, Andrew Wyeth and Claude Monet.

·         Based on her previous experience with volunteer led art programs in Texas and Arizona, Ms. Gustafson planned a six-year rotational program to include 48 artists (eight lessons taught each year) plus the original four pilot lessons, for a total of 52. Ms. Gustafson designed the program so the lessons were not chronological which allowed for many schools to participate in the program at any one time.

·         Classroom volunteers were recruited and trained by volunteer coordinators at each school. Lessons were 45 minutes per month with volunteers presenting relevant artist biographical information, images of the artist’s work and an art activity.       

          Art Literacy was suggested as the name for the program which elicited a positive response by supporting their two main goals: an emphasis on the creation of art as human expression and the ability to describe the creative process.

·         Early supporters of the program included Joi Hess, Diane Fergus, Althea Pribyl, Dr. and Mrs. P.B. Van Weel, Amy Pearl, Judy Fox, Chehalem; Lynna Allen, Cooper Mt.; and Cathy Bernhard, Raleigh Park.


Fall 1980-81

·         A need for a district coordinator became evident and Ms. Gustafson accepted this position.

·         Other elementary schools in the district immediately began requesting information about participating in the program. Participation also required acceptance by school parent groups to provide funding and help in recruiting volunteers.

·         1980-81 saw the completion of materials for the first three years (24) of the artist rotation. Through tireless volunteer efforts, new biographies were submitted, new schools sought admittance, new coordinators and volunteers were recruited, and new rotation schedules were developed to accommodate the growing program.

·         In answer to the support for needed visual materials, BSD Curriculum Materials Center(CMC) librarian, Chole Poole, worked with Ms. Gustafson to create a delivery schedule of the materials. Ms. Poole began to purchase additional materials in support of the program. Check out and return of visual materials by the 28th of each month, was overseen by Ms. Poole through the CMC.  Materials included slides, filmstrips, framed prints and sculpture.

·         Additional volunteer support information in the form of a glossary of technical, literary, and historical art terms and a summary of grade level learning expectations and suggested activities for each grade level, was created by Ms. Gustafson to accompany the artist biographies.

·         An informational brochure for interested schools and other districts was also created by Ms. Gustafson outlining the first six artist blocks and running of the program. She presented information to all interested schools the first few years.




·         District support under Boyd Applegarth, BSD Superintendent, to complete the planned six- year program, came in 1982 in the form of $45.00 per artist/period stipends paid to volunteers and coordinators to finish the research.

·         Site based school coordinators were recruited to address the needs of each school program. School coordinators received the artist biographies and visuals through the BSD interschool mail system each month. These copies were printed by the district in the BSD print shop and sent to Ms. Gustafson to be distributed to the schools.

·         The name Art Literacy was copyrighted in 1981 and 1985.

·         The program was replicated in Tigard, Newberg,and West Union School Districts as well as generated interest from other districts in and out of the state.

·         By the end of 1982, there were 23 elementary schools using the Art Literacy materials rotating the materials through the CMC librarian.



·         The remaining three blocks of eight artists each, plus the original four biographies, made a total of 52 artist biographies completed by the end of 1982 school year. This completed the first six blocks of artist materials.

·         After the initial six blocks were developed and implemented, quite a few schools created material about their favorite artists and made them available to the program.

·         A program at Mountain View Middle school began in 1982-83, but proved unsustainable and was not implemented at the middle school at that time.

·         A district wide coordinator meeting began to be held during this time frame with each site based school coordinator attending.

·         Louise Gustafason remained the district coordinator until 1983-84 when Lynna Allen took over the position.

·         Ms. Gustafson moved from the area in 1985.



·         In 1988, Carol Smith, Fine Arts Specialist for the Beaverton School District, began overseeing the Art Literacy program.

·         Ms. Smith continued with a representative leadership group they called “Roman Arches." The group consisted of the volunteer Art Literacy coordinators from each school. They met during the year and helped to make decisions in regard to the direction of the program.

·         A change was made during this timeframe from presenting eight artists during the school year, to presenting six artists. This created 10 blocks of six artists each.

·         Cardboard banker’s boxes for each set of artist materials began to be assembled containing books (most of them the Time-Life Artist series) and a notebook with one copy of the biographical and other artist information. Slides were added to the boxes instead of being checked out each month from the CMC.

·         The rotation of the materials also changed during this time. Schools were grouped geographically and began exchanging the boxes between them during the school year, rather than all of the materials going through the CMC librarian.

·         BSD copied all the artist biographical information for each block which was delivered to the September Coordinator meeting. School coordinators left the meeting with their assigned six artist boxes for the year and a huge stack of biographies, a copy for each of their volunteers.

·         Large prints, filmstrips and 3-D models were still available for check out from the CMC.

·         The Discipline Based Art Education (DBAE) model for teaching art lessons was introduced. Bev Ecker, from Greenway School, was instrumental in developing many of these lessons and providing volunteer training.

·         In 1990, Cooper Mt. coordinator Sally Locanthi, begin a newsletter for school coordinators highlighting school programs and events called “The Palette."

·         New artists were added to the rotation and an alternate list began with volunteers beginning to add their own lesson plans and production ideas to the boxes.

·         A consistent lesson plan format was introduced to coordinators around 1991 based on the DBAE model to begin to standardize the lesson information. Up until that time, each volunteer prepared their own lesson and then followed up with the coordinator suggested art activity.

·         All materials were returned at the end of each school year. Over the summer, a team of volunteers reorganized and cleaned out the boxes. Judy Fox, a Cooper Mountain volunteer, oversaw much of this job.



·         In 1993, the Fine Arts Specialist position in the district was eliminated. Carol Smith helped the Roman Arches group transition to an All-Volunteer board to take over running the program.

·         Clarinda White-Hanson and Margaret Eickman, two Oak Hills coordinators, co-chaired the Board of Directors in 1993-94. Together they wrote the first Art Literacy Handbook for coordinators.

·         Each board member was assigned a job to help run the program. Melody Ball volunteered to inventory the boxes at the end of each school year and began organizing the materials.

·         Sally Locanthi was elected President and Melody Ball, Elmonica coordinator, was elected as Vice President of the board in 1994.

·         The board began fundraising in 1994 to contractually hire a Resource Coordinator and a Volunteer Coordinator for the program. Each school sold art themed tee shirts and totes in schools. A portion of the funds remained at each school and the balance went to the BAL board to fund the Resource and Volunteer coordinator positons. Sally Locanthi spearheaded the fundraising effort.

·         In the spring of 1995, Melody Ball was hired by the board as the Resource Coordinator and Carla Ueki (Raleigh Park) as the Volunteer Coordinator, both as part-time employees. Melody created an inventory sheet and organized the contents of the artist notebooks. Carla began keeping a roster of the school coordinators and tracking the number of volunteers in the program.



·         BAL board received $4000 from the Beaverton Arts Commission in 1996 to refurbish the boxes and add the middle school artist boxes to the program.

·         Middle schools were added to the rotation in the fall of 1996.

·         The Roman Arches board became a non-profit 501(c3) organization in 1998, changing its name to Beaverton Art Literacy (BAL) and continued to work with the two employees.

·         BAL held two large fundraising auctions in 1998 themed “Evening in Paris” and in 1999, “Wild About Art." Both fundraisers were organized and coordinated by the BAL board headed by Sally Locanthi. The events were widely supported by the community and schools.

·         Jill Bogle, Greenway coordinator, was elected president in 1998.

·         No Frills Fundraisers supported the program with straight dollar donations requested from programs at each participating school. A portion of the funds went to the district program and the rest to the school.



·         Beaverton School District assumed responsibility for the salaries of the two part time employees after a presentation and request by Sally Locanthi and Jill Bogle.

·         The BAL board contributes $10,000 to the district to help fund the positions.

·         Melody Ball and Carla Ueki were hired to work part time by the school district to oversee the program as the continued Resource Coordinator and Volunteer Coordinator.

·         Melody developed the Art Smart Notebooks for each artist box at this time. The notebooks contains a timeline, description of artist terms and periods, an illustrated explanation of the elements and principals of art, and a glossary of terms.



·         Karen Bikel, Scholls Heights coordinator, is elected as the BAL president in spring of 2002.

·         Committee was formed (Melody Ball, Carla Ueki, Denise Cooney, Jill Bogle) to begin work on development of a new lesson plan format.

·         New lesson plans were designed to help meet the BSD Curriculum Agreements for the Visual Arts aligning with the Oregon State Visual Arts Standards.

·         Lessons were assigned an art focus - the Elements of Art at the elementary level and Principles of Art at the middle school level.

·         New lesson plan format was adopted in 2004 and rewriting of all lesson materials began. Melody Ball, Jill Bogle, Paige Clothier, Debra VanDetta, Erin Knolls, Denise Cooney and Michael Ball began rewriting them to fit the new format.

·         Carla Ueki left the program in November of 2004 and Rebecca Duarte was hired as the new Volunteer Coordinator in January of 2005.

·         Kodak Co. stops production of slide projectors in 2003 and announces it will stop support in 2011. This prompts a discussion by the BAL board to convert from slides to digital images.        



·         Michael Hunter-Bernstein, Hiteon coordinator, is elected BAL president and champions the conversion from slide to digital images.

·         April Doll, board treasurer and McKinley coordinator, along with Melody Ball, update and revise the Coordinator Handbook.

·         Beaverton Art Literacy celebrates its Twenty-fifth Anniversary in the year 2005 marked by the creation of an art piece inspired by forty-eight of the artist boxes made by Art Literacy volunteers. It is displayed at the Beaverton School District.

·         Melody Ball begins the purchase of the first digital images in the spring of 2007 to begin transitioning from slides to PowerPoint presentations. She designs the PowerPoint presentation format.


Fall 2008

·         Barbara Bingham, West TV coordinator, is elected BAL president.

·         Jill Bogle and Melody Ball meet Carol Cartier of Catatilla Design LLC, at a Leadership Beaverton presentation on the Art Literacy program. Ms.Cartier offers to create a branding message, webpage concept and logo, pro bono, for BAL. The board begins working with her.

·         A logo is chosen from the work done by Catatilla Designs and approved by the BAL board. It consists of five ombre turquoise colored boxes, BeavertonArtLiteracy.org and tag line, “DEFINING ART’S IMPACT ON OUR COMMUNITY.”



·         First PowerPoint presentations begin going into the boxes.

·         Art Literacy celebrates its 30th Anniversary with volunteers participating in the program in 32 elementary and 8 middle schools.

·         Over 1,100 volunteers are participating in the program in K-8 schools



·         PowerPoint presentations and lessons in a consistent format for all artists are completed.

·         The BAL board, in conjunction with the Beaverton Education Foundation, complete a fundraising campaign in January 2012 to equip each school program still using slides, with a dedicated laptop and projector purchased through the school district.

·         BAL board contributes $10,000 to the equipment fund.

·         PowerPoint presentations replace slide presentations in every school program.


Fall 2012


         The Beaverton Art Literacy Board voted to disband after the completion of the equipment transition and realization of their goal to create a sustainable volunteer arts education program in Beaverton’s K-8 schools.



·         The BAL program is run and overseen entirely by the Resource and Volunteer Coordinator positions, currently held by Melody Ball and Jill Bogle.

        Currently, there are 33 elementary and 11 Middle school programs reaching over 24,000 students with over 1300 volunteers giving over 20,000 hours per year.     


The BAL Resource Coordinator is Melody Ball. The Volunteer Coordinator is Cathy Lamb

Currently there are 48 elementary and middle schools participating in the program with over 1,600 volunteers. 










References: Melody Ball, Cathy Bernhard,  Jill Bogle,  Margaret Eickmann, Jacqueline Fitzgerald, Louise Gustfson, Jori Hess, Sally Locanthi, Carla Ueki.


BAL First Established Spring 1980

Measure 5, November 1990

BSD Employee Part Time Staff 2000

Twentieth Anniversary 2000-01

Twenty-Fifth Anniversary 2005-06

Thirtieth Anniversary 2010-11

Thirth-Fifth Anniversary 2015-16


Published 2004

Editors: Jacqueline Fitzgerald, Jill Bogle

Revised 2012