WORKING ON MURAL AT EJES

Bren Bataclan, known as “The Smile Artist”, led the effort to paint this mural at East Jackson Elementary School.

After reading an inspiring book, fifth graders at East Jackson Elementary School campaigned to their teacher, Katie Garner, to invite Boston-based artist Bren Bataclan to their school.

Bren Bataclan, known as “The Smile Artist”, is the subject of a book titled, "Bren Bataclan: Smile Artist," that highlights his efforts to make the world a brighter place. He leaves paintings on park benches, lobbies, and other public spaces for people to find. He attaches a note to them explaining that the painting is the finder’s to keep if they promise to smile at others.

After reading his book in class, EJES fifth graders realized Bataclan visits schools and paints murals. The students asked their teacher if Bataclan could visit EJES.

Their dreams turned into reality: the famous artist visited EJES October 4 - 8. He took artwork drawn by the students and turned it into a mural spanning the size of the cafeteria wall.

The artwork was inspired by the 7 Mindsets, a social-emotional learning approach used by the school district. The 7 Mindsets are: Live to Give, Attitude of Gratitude, We are Connected, 100% Accountable, Passion First, Everything is Possible, and The Time is Now.

Students, staff, district leadership and parents all had a hand in painting the mural.

“This has been such a fun and meaningful experience for our students,” said Allyson Pennington, Principal of EJES. “Bren Bataclan’s message is to spread kindness and happiness and our students have embraced this message. I am especially proud of this initiative as it was brought about by the students themselves. I hope that all the students at East Jackson Elementary School see this as an example of the positive impact they can have on the world.”

Students also had the opportunity to hear Bataclan speak. “Hands down, my East Jackson Elementary School residency was one of the best I've had in my 18-year career working with schools on mural projects,” said Bataclan. “I loved painting what the students drew for the mural. I was so blown away by their talent! I sure felt the love at East Jackson Elementary School! Everyone there was so welcoming and nice! I hope to come back one of these days.”

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