It wasn’t a steering wheel, but a potter’s wheel that mentees and mentors were driving at Shelburne Art Center’s monthly Dinner and Art for mentor pairs.  The class was small enough that clay artist (and teacher extraordinaire) Rik Rolla felt comfortable giving a brief demonstration, then giving each mentor and mentee a turn at the wheel.

Johara, from Spectrum, makes a pot with help of teacher Rik Rolla.

Johara, my mentee through the Spectrum Mentoring program, went first.  She threw the clay in the middle of the wheel and she centered it with a little help from Rik.  In no time at all she had formed a very nice pot.

“That looked pretty easy!”  I thought.  One at a time we each took our turn.  Johara’s younger sister, Muna, was next, then Nikki from HowardCenter’s Community Friends Mentoring, then her mentor Sheila, and then me.  It turns out it wasn’t as easy as it looked, but we all had a great time.  With Rik’s help (a lot of help) we each created a pot that we will be proud of.

Pots ready for the kiln.

It turns out that Johara made it look easy because she seems to have a natural feel for the wheel.  So much so that Rik took notice and arranged to get a scholarship for Johara to be part of his wheel class in May.  Little sister, Muna, was excited for Johara, but also hoped to attend with her, but the last scholarship available went to Johara.  A very kind donor to Shelburne Art Center was so moved when she learned about the girls, that she has offered to pay Muna’s tuition for the class.

When Johara learned about the scholarship offer, she lit up like a spring flower on a warm day.  In a New American family of six children, she doesn’t get to feel special very often.  She has talent!  She beamed with excitement!

Johara and Rik at the wheel.

The Shelburne Art Center has supported mentoring with the free Dinner and Art program since the fall.  Whether a mentee comes just once and has a good time making something, or if they come every month like Johara and Muna, those moments of fun and accomplishment make a huge difference in their lives.  Thank you, Rik, Sage, and everyone at Shelburne Art Center!

The April Dinner and Art was the last one at Shelburne Art Center.  In May, going back to its roots, the Shelburne Art Center will become the Shelburne Craft School, which was the original name of the organization, dating back to 1938.   The first Dinner and Art for mentor pairs at the Shelburne Craft School will be May 21st.  Come join in on the fun!

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