Thomas Sharp Elementary School Mural

Thomas Sharp Elementary School Mural

by Robin Brownfield

Scroll through the images to see Robin and her community hard at work building something beautiful.

Tile, glass, stone, porcelain, hammers, tile cutters, grout, thin-set

Methods: The hard work of many volunteers and lots of chaos!

Inspiration: Thomas Sharp Elementary School has a new principal, Douglas Newman, who wanted the poorest school in the district to be an exciting place for kids to learn. He focuses a great deal on the arts to engage students. In June, I was asked to lead a mosaic-making session in my grandchildren's 5th-grade class. That led to the school's PTA asking me to make a mosaic mural on the school's blank outer walls. I agreed to it, as long as others in the community would also take part. While I've done most of the prep work for it, it has quickly become a project in which people in Collingswood, NJ want to participate. Since summer, dozens of parents, children, seniors, neighbors, and Principal Newman have all been contributing to the mural. People passing by take photos and post them on Facebook. People across the street sit out on the porch to watch. People walk by with their flirtatious dogs and babies, they jump out of their cars, wanting to help, or donating needed supplies. It's grueling work at times, but this is a project people can spend the rest of their lives saying, "I helped make that!"


Featured in our November 2021 issue, "Community"