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Oak View Elementary School teacher wins Fiber Art Now Teacher Excellence Grant

Paola Morantes-Villalobos, a fifth grade teacher at Oak View Elementary School, was awarded the Fiber Art Now Teacher Excellence Grant for the purchase of fabric and materials to teach her students how to quilt.

Morantes-Villalobos heard about the grant and had worked with fibers in the past. She decided to apply for the grant, which covered the materials students used to make their quilts.

The Teacher Excellence Grant is awarded to educators who bring fiber and textile art to the classroom, and is one of several grants sponsored by Fiber Art Now. Teachers are encouraged to inspire students with hands-on experiences that enrich students’ lives.

“This is the first time I have ever done this type of project with children, so it has been very interesting,” Morantes-Villalobos said, calling the process “organized chaos.”

Morantes-Villabos’ students are learning to create their own mini quilts in the style of artist Faith Ringgold, using Ringgold’s book Tar Beach as an inspiration. The students planned their project, cut their fabric and glued it down themselves. They worked on their quilts at their own pace, with everyone at a different stage of the project, often working in small groups to help each other with difficult parts of the project. For many of the students, this is the first time they had ever worked on a project like this. 

“I never thought I would like this kind of thing, but I really do,” fifth grader Teagan McCormick said. 

The designs of the quilts were left up to the students, including what fabric they wanted to use and what images would be displayed on the front. When all of the quilts have been completed, they will be displayed around the school for everyone to see.