Dublin art teacher Jason Blair is partnering with the Columbus Museum of Art to find more ways to instill creativity into children's education.

Blair, who in 2002 began teaching art at Eli Pinney Elementary School, was selected by the museum to be its first teacher in residence.

The pilot program grew out of a relationship with Blair, who has contributed to teacher development within the museum's learning department for many years, said Jennifer Lehe, manager of strategic partnerships for the Columbus Museum of Art.

Nurturing creativity in learning environments is important, Lehe said, because it is the foundation of a person's ability to tackle challenges and live in the world.

Research also suggests non-creative behavior is learned, Lehe said.

A study NASA did to assess children's creativity found that 98 percent of 5-year-olds were creative geniuses, while only 2 percent of adults were, Lehe said.

The biggest drop in creativity occurred between the ages of 5 and 12.

What that means, Lehe said, is that children are born with the habits of thinking creatively and as they grow they learn to believe creative thinking isn't valued.

In his new role, Blair helps the museum lead a creativity fellowship for teachers and a creativity institute in which typically as many as 60 teachers and administrators participate in, Lehe said.

The institute, which Lehe described as a cross between graduate school and summer camp, helps teach teachers and administrators how to foster creativity.

Feedback from participants, however, showed those who attended wanted follow-up support, Lehe said.

"It's a really fantastic and intensive experience," she said.

The museum receives funding for the creativity institute through the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, which also funds Blair's $3,000 stipend for his new role, Lehe said.

Blair's role could extend beyond one school year, depending upon how the scope of his work grows, she said.

"We just have to figure that out," Lehe said.

Blair also will help the museum manage requests from schools for workshops about how to incorporate creativity into students' learning environments, she said.

"We learn so much by deeply collaborating with classroom teachers," Lehe said.

Blair said he first began collaborating with the museum when he attended one of its creativity institutes.

He said he learned students need a proper environment to be nurtured and to flourish.

As years went on, Blair worked with the museum to figure out more ways in which to develop creative thinking environments throughout classrooms and not just the art room.

He also participated in the museum's creativity fellowship, which Lehe described as a small group of teachers selected by the museum who previously participated in the creativity institute and want to expand on what they've learned.

Blair said he has had the opportunity to apply what he's learned at his own school.

At Eli Pinney, he worked with teams of teachers to incorporate creativity within the regular education curriculum.

In one second-grade classroom, students learning about weather had to choose outfits for an imaginary character from another planet according to specific seasons, he said.

Now, Blair will work with teachers from different school districts as well to find other ways to infuse creative thinking in classroom environments, he said.

"I think it's a great opportunity," he said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah