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Henrico teacher hopes to bring the world to Greenwood Elementary

Posted at 9:12 AM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 09:12:11-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. - On her days off, you can sometimes find Greenwood Elementary School teacher, Sarah Pena, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond.

She takes some of the things she learns back to her students.

"I think art is a universal language because students can come into a classroom and they can have the same materials in front of them," said Pena. “And they're able to approach it from their own perspective."

One of the artists Pena’s students studied was Kehinde Wiley who designed the statue -- Rumors of War -- in front of the museum.

In the classroom, her students imitated the style of Wiley's paintings.

For Pena's hard work overall, Henrico County Schools recognized her as one of seven instructors in winning the REB award for teaching excellence.

And she had to decide what to do with the over $11,000 grant that comes with the award.

"I started thinking, 'What do my students need most? What do I need most at this really unique moment?' And I realized if I could give them anything, I'd want to do connection and healing and I felt like art is the ultimate way to provide both of those things at once."

Her goal is to explore museums, model schools and multicultural traditions in Dubai, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City.

"Our school is truly a global community. Greenwood has students who come from all over the world. Over 30 languages are spoken there," Pena said.

Pena will study ways to foster global citizenship by connecting students across cultures, languages, and continents.

From the sculpture garden at VMFA to museums around the world, Pena's love of art, is Building Better Minds.

Building Better Minds with Rob Cardwell airs every Wednesday at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on CBS 6 and is sponsored by Virginia Family Dentistry.

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