By Fred Arnold
Belcher Road twists and turns. Neighborhood after neighborhood flies by in a monotonous pattern of three room family homes, thick bushes and trees, and the occasional picket fence. The road begins to elevate until a different type of building comes to view: St. Petersburg College, Tarpon Springs. This campus is home to the Leepa-Rattner Museum and the many events that come with it. Once a month the museum plays host to children for its program, Leap into Leepa-Rattner, and it is safe to say they love it!
The moderators at Leepa-Rattner have partnered with Palm Harbor Library, due to the closeness of the buildings, to bring children into the world of art. Marisa Meale, a librarian at Palm Harbor Library, says that children love the activities and really enjoy themselves. “We do it for the children. Getting them excited about art and reading; that’s what it is about,” she says.
Leap into Leepa-Rattner is a program where Marisa, 27, and other library workers and helpers, read stories to the children. After the story time they are then invited to create artworks that portray what they learned.
“I was not sure what I wanted to be after grad school,” Marisa says as she recalls her time before being a Librarian. “My mother said I’m a lot like her and that I would love the work in a library, so here I am!” she continues. She loves her work and says it is a “perfect fit.”
One issue that Marisa and her colleagues face is getting their programs out there. The museum is in a far corner of the campus and many people really do not know it exists. Marisa hopes to alleviate that in the near future. She states, “It is important to get children involved in these types of programs; first, they are free; second, they learn that these kind of resources are available to them.” Marisa also has an art program called “Art Attack” that takes place at the Palm Harbor Library across the street from St. Petersburg College once a month. This program teaches the children about different artists and has the kids create artworks based off of those artists.
For more information on the programs and events associate with the Leepa-Rattner Museum, they can be found online at: http://www.spcollege.edu/central/museum/education.htm
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Originally published Nov. 14, 2014.