Martha Kent Martin

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Martha Kent Martin

In 1995, when Houston Elementary School learned that it was losing the funding for its after-school program and that the art program was being cut back, Martha Martin saw an opportunity to fill both gaps together, by creating an after-school arts program. Martha, a jeweler and Houston parent, worked with Home and School Association President Dan Winterstein—another of our 40 Good Neighbors—and then-Principal Marie McCarthy to secure a start-up grant to fund an after-school program that would expose children to a variety of visual and creative arts.

Martha hired community artists—dancers, guitarists, poets, painters and potters—to teach in the Houston after-school arts program. The first year, 90 children participated; since then, the program has served approximately 120 children each year, with 10 teachers. Projects undertaken by the children include a wall of self-portraits, and holiday pictures that were exhibited at Woodmere Museum and then given as holiday gifts to AIDS patients.

Martha’s commitment to the Houston After School Arts Program comes from her understanding of the importance of the arts to a child¹s life: “I do this because the arts are attractive to learners of all types, and when kids are able to take their knowledge of the creative process and apply it to other aspects of the curriculum they tend to be better problem-solvers and subsequently to do better academically.”