After two years working as a special education teacher, Ila Gross didn’t think she was cut out to be an educator, so she left the teaching field and applied her skills as a fine artist.
It wasn’t until her own son was a student at the Cathedral School of St. John the Divine and her son's principal approached her asking if she could help bolster their arts program that she reentered the teaching field.
Gross was asked to integrate art into the school’s second grade classrooms, and right away, she encountered a bit of resistance from teachers who didn’t want to give up valuable curriculum-focused learning time to accommodate arts learning.
“No one wanted art, so I came up with a strategy to teach what they were teaching using art,” Gross said.
Once she was able to get her program up and running, she immediately received a strong vote of confidence from Co-Founder Alice Krieger.
“There was a guy working on the art committee with me and he said, 'gee, if you brought what you’re doing to public school, I would fund you,'” Gross said. “It turned out he was the head of education for Rockefeller Brothers Foundation.”
In the first year of the