Ronna Tulgan Ostheimer ’82 recently received the 2010 EdCom Award for Excellence in Programming for RAISE, am alternative sentencing program she developed at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass. RAISE, an acronym for Responding to Art Involves Self-Expression, gets at-risk teens involved in art as an alternative to a host of punishments, including incarceration.
“They come at the beginning kicking and screaming, but by the end, they’re sorry that the program is over,” says Michael Ann Holly ’73, an art historian and Ostheimer’s colleague. Having earned her B.A. from William Smith in art history and history, Holly has worked at The Clark since 1999. “Instead of being treated like criminals, they’re treated like respected visitors. For most, it’s their very first experience spending time at an art museum and they benefit from the experience. They get to talk about issues that matter to them through works of art.”
Ostheimer, who serves as the head of education programs at the Clark, explains, “I’ve always been interested in the underdog, the kids who aren’t making it. I’m fascinated by questions like, what kinds of things as a society we should put in place for kids who are born into at-risk situations? It all goes back so much to the values I learned in college, values that firmly established how I perceive the world. An appreciation for understanding multiple perspectives and placing a high priority on doing what’s right for humanity: these were values I got from the Colleges.”
Ostheimer earned a doctorate in psychological education. At William Smith, she majored in sociology was co-chair of the Social Affairs committee, and took part in ski club.
EdCom was founded as the President’s Education Committee of the American Association of Museums and recognizes outstanding contributions to museum education. Excellence in Programming lauds exemplary creativity and innovation in museum educational programming. The Clark’s clearly articulated goals, designed to achieve the goals with the intended audiences, reflect the institution’s commitment.
The Clark, an art museum and a center for research and higher education, is dedicated to advancing and extending the public understanding of art through a variety of programs designed to encourage a wide range of audiences to explore, understand and enjoy the visual arts. More than 6,000 students visit the galleries each year and listen to gallery talks on a variety of themes and subjects.