Loyola School second-grader Finley Snedigarâs passion for art and drawing runs through multiple generations of her family, thanks in part to the Los Altos School Districtâs Art Docent program.
Finley’s mom, Nicole Snedigar, also attended Loyola and volunteers as a docent for the program, which teaches art appreciation lessons to elementary school students throughout the district. Finley’s grandmother – Nicole’s mom, Melinda Reed – is a former LASD art docent.
So it’s no wonder Finley said that art docent lessons are her favorite part of school.
The Los Altos Educational Foundation, which funds LASD programs such as the Art Docent program, has struggled to raise money during the pandemic. To help, Finley is selling hand-drawn notecards locally to raise money and awareness for LAEF.
“I really like Art Docents and I want to make sure everyone has a chance to do art at school,” Finley said.
LAEF appreciates her efforts.
“Finley’s project has just warmed our hearts so much,” said Stephanie Dauer, LAEF board president. “I cannot tell you how much positive energy such a kind gesture generates. Finley’s initiative and generosity is serving as a catalyst for our board to finish the year strong, and to keep working as hard as we can to support her and all the district’s students.”
According to Dauer, LAEF’s mission is to raise funds to sustain and enrich LASD’s educational program beyond what public funding provides.
“Every year our board of parent volunteers works to raise funds from our district families and the broader community so that we can fill the gap between what our district receives from state and federal funding and local taxes, and what it needs to fully fund our neighborhood kids’ education,” she said.
LAEF partners with the districts to fund teachers and programs relating to literacy, STEM, wellness and the arts, and has continued to support the programs throughout the pandemic, in addition to mental health counseling services.
“District Superintendent Jeff Baier told us that the majority of school districts were unable to provide this wide range of opportunities during distance learning,” Dauer said.
Bridging the gap
However, LAEF has struggled to meet its fundraising goals due to families donating to other nonprofits – especially those supporting basic needs during the pandemic – families facing financial challenges and district enrollment declining by 10%. To raise awareness of LAEF’s fundraising gap, Finley used her art talents – a longtime hobby – for a good cause.
“Finley has always loved art; even as a toddler, she could spend hours painting or coloring with crayons and never get tired,” Nicole said. “In addition to hand wipes, diapers and snacks, I learned to always keep extra paper and crayons in my purse in case of ‘coloring emergencies.’ She draws in the car, in front of the TV and whenever inspiration strikes. Drawing, painting and doodling are the main ways she unwinds and relaxes after school and in her free time.”
During the pandemic, Nicole sent some of Finley’s drawings with her mom, who then shared them with Nicole’s former first-grade teacher at Loyola School, Mary Olson. Together they turned them into notecards to sell at local gift shops, donating the proceeds to an organization of Finley’s choice.
“It made sense to give back to the LAEF Art Docent program that inspired a multi-generational appreciation for art, especially with the uncertainty of funding during the first months of the pandemic,” Nicole said.
With help from In Print Los Altos owner and former art docent Elli Bernacchi, who printed the notecards, Finley’s art designs are available in a few shops and online.
The seven designs available on notecards are “Purr-maid” (a mix of a mermaid and cat); “Miro Robot” (a 12-legged robot in the style of Spanish painter Joan Miró); “Bear-Butterfly-Krill-Shrimp”; “Cat-Giraffe-Chameleon”; “Circus Act” (a two-headed, six-armed acrobatic figure balancing on a wheel in a circus ring); “Peppa’s Purse” (Peppa Pig carrying a purse and lipstick); and “Expensive Bouquet” (a bouquet of flowers with dollar signs at the top).
“To draw the ‘Purr-maid’ scales, it takes me about a half an hour to make the whole pattern,” Finley said of her process. “It takes me about 15 minutes to draw the body and the ears and all of the other stuff. I was inspired by animals and nature, and also while I’m taking a bath I look for creature shapes in the splotches of paint in the ceiling. I draw my pictures with texture and form using pens, colored pencils and many crayons.”
Notecards cost $3 each, or $10 for four (plus shipping).
To order the notecards, email email@example.com.
To donate to LAEF and for more information, visit laefonline.net.