Art Teacher Gillian in the News

January 29th, 2020
Category: News

PMFS Art Teacher Gillian Pokalo is in the Times Herald this week for an art project about immigration she is doing in collaboration with an artist from Iceland. Read the article below:

Phoenixville exhibit connects women immigrants across borders

MediaNews Group
Jan 28, 2020

PHOENIXVILLE — No matter where one is in the world, no matter what language is spoken, art has the ability to connect people across country borders.

The act of making art together builds community, as in the “Home is Where The Heart Is” exhibition, which is the international collaboration between American artist and art educator Gillian Pokalo and Icelandic artist and librarian, Anna Maria Cornette.

Working with women immigrants in both Keflavik, Iceland and Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, Pokalo and Cornette facilitated a series of workshops in which the women were invited to create a clock that represents what “Home” means to them using screen printed imagery. The clock is reminiscent of our own heartbeat and by working with time we see how we all connect, different but in rhythm. Displayed side-by-side, the exhibition explores the common experiences of starting a new life in a new country, reminding us that we are all part of a community and helping those who seek a community build one in a supportive way.

Beginning in Keflavik, Iceland in the spring of 2018, the project was supported through a grant from Iceland’s Immigration Development Fund, which promotes the cultural wealth of immigrants in Reykjanesbaer, Iceland. Pokalo, who was in Iceland during an artist residency in Keflavik, was invited to work with the group of women who call themselves Heimskonur, or women from all over the world, who meet regularly at the library. Their works were on display for the culture festival of Keflavik, “Ljosannott” and later in Reykjavík Library’s Museum of Art.

Stateside, Pokalo teaches elementary art at Plymouth Meeting Friends School and at night teaches printmaking at Community Arts Phoenixville. She sought to collaborate with Alianzas, a grass roots organization that provides advocacy and resources to Phoenixville’s immigrant population. Over the course of the first week of February, Gillian and Anna Maria, and several women from around the world will come together to build community through art-making and will create a series of screen printed pieces that represent “Home is Where the Heart Is”.

The exhibition will open on Feb. 7 at Community Arts Phoenixville, 207 Bridge St., Phoenixville, and will run through the month of February.

Community Arts Phoenixville is an initiative of Camphill Soltane. Learn more about Camphill Soltane and Community Arts Phoenixville at

Original Times Herald Article

Play-Inspired Learning

January 22nd, 2020
Category: News

Pre-K Teachers Courtney and Kate find creative ways to enrich their students’ learning with themes that “emerge” out of play. Recently they presented their class with a table covered in paper, a mess of paint, and some brushes. From there, a group of children came over to paint during free play and turned the table into a beautiful ocean scene, telling a story of mermaids and underwater creatures. With the point of interest established, Courtney and Kate stretched the idea a little further by bringing in ocean animal figurines and, as always, materials from the classroom art atelier. The kids were thrilled to develop and extend their stories adding coral, shells, and many decorations. The teachers pulled ocean and fish books from the shelves to answer questions and extend their learning. Each day as the kids returned to their ocean scene, remembering the details from prior play periods and adding on more aspects of the story and environment.

Learning Where our Food Comes From

January 15th, 2020
Category: News
As part of their study of city planning and the journey food takes to reach our plates, Fifth Grade visited the PA Farm Show in Harrisburg last week. They got to meet a farmer, pet cows, and see a calf being born. Students also enjoyed a scavenger hunt around the farm show, pretending to drive tractors, and sampling fresh dairy treats. At the end of the day the class enjoyed a horse race in the arena.

Students Create Aquaponics System

January 8th, 2020
Category: News

Fifth Graders pose with the aquaponics system they helped to create.  The nitrogen generated by fish waste is utilized by the plants growing at the surface of the water.

Celebrating Nature, Kindness, and Home

December 18th, 2019
Category: News

Families gathered to celebrate their students and the natural world at Second Grade’s annual Night Tree Celebration. This tradition was inspired by Eve Buntings’ picture book, Night Tree, about a family who decorates a forest tree with edible decorations for wildlife. Students prepared winter treats to hang on a tree outside for their animal friends, made candles to illuminate the dark winter night, and shared their writing with their families. And they enjoyed another Second Grade tradition – baking and sharing delicious teacakes!

Third Grade’s Year-Long Study of Water

December 10th, 2019
Category: News

Third Graders visited the Fairmount Water Works as part of their year-long study of waer. Once the heart of Philadelphia’s water distribution system, the Water Works is now an interpretive center which educates visitors about Philadelphia’s urban watershed. Third Graders considered how many gallons of water on average a person uses each day through consumption and household appliances. They brainstormed ways people can conserve water, such as turning off the water when brushing your teeth and only running a full dishwasher.