Workshop at Springfield H.S. Arts Academy


That’s how many students I taught how to make books last Thursday and Friday at Springfield High School Arts Academy in Springfield, Vermont.

When I was done, I was exhausted, had a throbbing headache, and my feet were smoking. And I would totally do it again in a heartbeat.

Loved it.

The Springfield Arts Academy is based on the premise that integrating the arts into all subjects help to reinforce concepts that students are learning. It’s such a simple, yet potent idea – why don’t more schools do this?

If you’re interested in learning more, The Kennedy Center offers links to a number of articles on the use of the arts in education: Arts Integration Resources.

The book structure I chose for my workshop was the panel book, which I’ve done before in other workshops. All of the supplies were put on a cart and we wheeled the “Book Mobile” from class to class. Thankfully, I had an assistant for both days – Catherine. She rocked.

Cart full of bookbinding supplies

Home Base

I taught seven periods in a variety of classes – Science, English, History. Each teacher had a different plan of what they were going to do with the completed books. One class was going to use it for student-written poetry and another was working on a global warming unit. I’m hoping to get images of the completed books that are made in each class.

Springfield High School Arts Academy students hard at work

One thing that surprised me was that I had 100% participation in all of the classes. I had a preconceived notion that at least a couple of students in each class would refuse to participate. I am happy to say that I was wrong. All of the students were friendly, respectful, and fully engaged in the project. It was heartwarming.

Springfield High School Arts Academy students hard at work

The more classes I do, the more I realize just how much I enjoy teaching. There’s something so satisfying in watching the expression on someone’s face when they successfully finish a project. And to witness that moment when everything comes together and a pile of materials becomes a book – there’s nothing like it.

Springfield High School Arts Academy student working on Panel Book

I also love watching hands at work. I’ve realized that when I teach workshops, I always end up with a bunch of pictures of the participants’ hands. There’s so much potential and possibility in hands.

One of the students told me that I was the coolest person to come into the school in a long time. I’m embarrassed to admit just how much that meant to me. I guess you never get over wanting to feel cool in high school, even if you graduated years ago.

Oh, one more thing. I was interviewed by someone from the school paper. It seems that the world has finally caught on that bookbinding is news-worthy. Yay!

6 Responses to “Workshop at Springfield H.S. Arts Academy”

By Monica - 25 January 2010 Reply

This is so fantastic!
Now there’s a high school full of kids out there with bookbinding on the brain. I’d definitely say that’s news-worthy!
You’re the coolest.

By elissa - 25 January 2010 Reply

Monica –

You’re such a peanut. 🙂


By Dennis - 25 January 2010 Reply

136!? How did you even do that!? That’s amazing! How come we can’t see any picture of the coolest instructor?

By elissa - 25 January 2010 Reply

Dennis –

Ask and you shall receive. 🙂

I did it with a lot of coffee, that’s for damn sure.


Bookbinder Elissa Campbell at Springfield High School Arts Academy
By velma - 26 January 2010 Reply

and you’re still standing!

what an intelligent and thoughtful piece about working with kids. and i totally appreciate your link to new horizons for learning. this is all very close to home for me–i teach alternative ed and book arts are an important part of what i do. i had two kids petting their bone folders today as i talked with them about tools!!!

By elissa - 27 January 2010 Reply

Velma –

Something else I forgot to mention – several teachers commented that there were some students that really took to the project. These were students who didn’t often have the chance to shine and they were assisting others in completing their projects. To provide that experience to these students was really valuable. It just goes to show that process is as important as product.

Here’s another great link: The National Museum of Women in the Arts has developed a curriculum for integrating bookbinding into the classroom.


So what do you think? I'd love to know!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This