Altered Shoes Project at Crystal’s Adult Academic Program combines learning, artistic expression

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(Left to right) Magartu Dawe, Nejat Mohamed, Colleen Crossley, and Le Truong work on the written exercise that accompanied the Altered Shoes projects. Students were tasked with describing the metaphors they used in the decorating process and how they felt after completing their shoes. (Sun Post staff photos by Laci Gagliano)

(Left to right) Magartu Dawe, Nejat Mohamed, Colleen Crossley, and Le Truong work on the written exercise that accompanied the Altered Shoes projects. Students were tasked with describing the metaphors they used in the decorating process and how they felt after completing their shoes. (Sun Post staff photos by Laci Gagliano)

The Adult Academic Program at Crystal Learning Center provides opportunities for adults seeking GED preparation and testing, English as a Second Language courses, citizenship preparation, and other learning and skills development programs.

Colleen Crossley teaches ESL classes in the program, where students work to sharpen their English writing, speaking and reading, plus brush up on basic math skills. In the classroom, Crossley cultivates a creative arsenal of teaching methods designed to go beyond the typical academic setting and works to cultivate a learning environment that draws from students’ personal experiences.

Her class is currently working “Altered Shoes,” where students each paint and decorate a pair of shoes to create visual metaphors that reflect their personality and life experiences. The students write, putting their ideas for the shoes into words, describing the metaphors used in their creation and their feelings and inspirations.

The shoes feature a rainbow of painted colors and details, bedecked with glitter, jewels, knick-knacks, and any other art materials, strategically chosen and placed by the students to create metaphors that represent themes like family, identity, and even past hardships. Many students chose to glue photos of themselves or family members, as well as a small printed map of their country of origin.

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