The Archival Project
Begun in 1994, under the direction of Carol Grocki Lewis, the Archival Project is a long-term project that involves documenting, collecting, and organizing the various projects of The Touchstone Center since its founding in 1969. The overall purpose is to carefully organize, digitize, and preserve the Center’s large collection of original children’s writings and art that have emerged from the Center’s arts and education residencies, as well as the numerous audio and video tapes, films, photographs, publications, and documents that record in detail the Center’s workshops, exhibitions, and overall history – as well as the writings and papers of the Center’s Founder and Director, Richard Lewis.
As part of the Archival Project, the Center has recently established a Facebook/Instagram page, as well as a monthly e-mail newsletter in order to share various projects and aspects of the archives and the Center’s activities. In addition, the Center continues to initiate and produce a variety of publications, exhibitions, outreach seminars, and conversations that disseminate and reflect upon the Center’s work and philosophy as it has evolved since its inception in 1969.
A short and abbreviated history of the Center’s activities can be found in the following “Overview of Activities, 1969-2021.”
Overview of Activities: 1969-2022
Touchstone Center for Children founded as a non-profit educational organization by Richard Lewis in New York City in the belief that all persons have natural creative and artistic capacities, which, when encouraged and allowed to develop, find unique expression in each individual.
Touchstone Players & the Little Theatre of the Deaf present A Winter Festival of Poetry at the Manhattan Country School.
Touchstone Players tour District 12 in the Bronx with its original production of I Sing to Myself, a dramatization and reading of poetry for and by children.
The Center presents Jungle Day, a school wide arts project at the Manhattan-Country School in association with students at the Bank Street College of Education and artist-teachers of the Center.
Touchstone Players perform at Children’s Theatre Fair at Lincoln Center and the Asia Society presenting There Are Two Lives, an original production of the Center based on poetry by children of Japan.
Arts and Education Program established at PS 9, Manhattan, with a major three-year grant from the Edward J. Noble Foundation.
Prints and Poems of Japanese Children, an exhibition assembled by the Center, accompanied by a series of weekend workshops for families exploring Japanese poetry and print-making, is exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Origins Workshop, exploring, through original myth, poetry, and art, the origins of the universe and the earth, begun with teachers and children at the Children’s Workshop School.
The Center initiates Saturday workshops for teachers and artists entitled Transformations at the Center’s workshop space in conjunction with teacher workshops at the Workshop Center for Open Education at City College – and at the Creative Teaching Workshop.
The Flower Project, a series of large murals by children expressing the beginnings of the life of flowers on the earth, hung as a permanent installation at PS 9.
Center establishes a “studio” at PS 9 for teachers in the school who wish to experiment with art materials and subsequently develop arts projects in their individual classrooms.
Webster College in St. Louis and Touchstone Center collaborate on credit-bearing teacher workshops in the arts and the imaginative process presented by the Center.
Multi-disciplinary arts project begun at PS 9 for children, teachers and parents to create an imaginary “forest” in empty classroom of the school culminating in a community festival to celebrate the beginnings of this five-year project.
Center presents a series of after-school arts-based thematic workshops at PS 9 for teachers: Voyages to Miniature Worlds; Of Kings, Queens and Castles; and Who Made the Sky?
Learning and Imagination workshops begun for teachers interested in links between imaginative thought and learning.
Center continues its Forest Project at PS 9 focusing on exploring with children and teachers the scientific and aesthetic experience of the sun and the moon, the first of many such yearly thematic explorations based on “themes” developed and made a part of the evolving forest created by the children of the school.
With a grant from the Exxon Corporation, Touchstone establishes Touchstone-Exxon Fellowship Program for teachers through out New York City public schools interested in participating in the Center’s long-term thematic projects.
Center sponsors workshops for children, in association with the Center for School Development of New York City, at the American Museum of Natural History entitled, Sing We of Creeping and Crawling Things.
Humankind: The First Artisans becomes the central theme for the year of Center’s residency at PS 9.
Original theatre pieces by Richard Lewis, Cave and Creature Tales presented in conjunction with opening of major exhibitions at the American Museum of Natural History on pre-historic art – and amphibians and reptiles.
Haiku, an original exhibition created by the Center, tours New York State through Gallery Association of New York State.
Center sponsors and organizes Versions of the Traditional, the first of a series of yearly readings by poets and anthropologists at the American Museum of Natural History.
What the Waters Said, a series of day-long workshops for children and their families, held at the Wave Hill Environmental Center.
The Expression of Nature: The Arts in Chinese and Japanese Culture becomes the central theme of the Center’s residency at PS 9 – and its expanded residency at PS 87 in Manhattan.
Moving Mountain Festival, a series of workshops and performances based on Asian poetry, presented for the general public in parks in Staten Island and Manhattan.
Center’s work on the role of imaginative thought and thematic learning presented at Fordham University, Lesley College, Western Washington University, and Arena Theatre in Washington, DC.
Of This World, an original theatre piece by Richard Lewis, based on the life of Japanese haiku poet Issa, is produced and performed by the Little Theatre of the Deaf at American Museum of Natural History, Wave Hill Environmental Center and Symphony Space.
Thematic Residency Program initiated at PS 71 and IS 227 in Queens with a new thematic exploration, Realms of the Sea.
Center begins The Touchstone Study, directed by Dr. Lillian Goldberg, researching and evaluating the Center’s long term thematic project at PS 9 in Manhattan.
In collaboration with the Queens College Center for the Improvement of Education, the Center presents a year-long program for teachers throughout District 24 in Queens based on developing thematic curriculums in individual classrooms.
Center presents a series of readings for children and their families at the Staten Island Children’s Museum and the Hudson River Museum based on the theme of the sea and culminating in a performance of an original dance-theatre piece, In The Eye of the Whale, at the American Museum of Natural History.
The Work of the Touchstone Center, a retrospective exhibition of materials and publications of the Center, presented at the Educational Library at Hunter College.
In conjunction with the Central Park Conservancy and Park Rangers, the Center initiates a series of workshops for children at the Central Park East School integrating the arts and sciences.
Production of Fire, Fire Burning Bright, a series of six radio programs on the nature of poetry, with students at IS 227.
Center initiates new year-long thematic project, Realms of the Sky, at IS 227, PS 56 and PS 14 in Queens.
In association with the Abrons Arts Center of the Henry Street Settlement, the Center establishes its Literature Residency Program with PS 15 in Manhattan.
Speaking With Nature workshops for students in Public Schools in the Bronx begun, in association with the Bronx Division of the New York City Parks & Recreation Department, and culminating in a series of public events for families in Van Cortland Park, Pelham Bay Park and St. James Park.
As part of the year-long development of the theme, Realms of the Earth at IS 227 and PS 165 in Queens, PS 110 and the Harlem School of the Arts, the Center presents The Earth Sleeps: A Winter Reverie at Crotona Park and Belevedere Castle in Center Park.
The Center gives a series of workshops, The Magic Word: Children and Their Poetic Vision for teachers at The Writers Voice.
In association with the Prospect Park Environmental Center in Brooklyn, the Center initiates workshops for Fourth Grade students focused on writing in relation to the natural world.
The Butterfly in My Pocket: On Teaching the Imaginative Experience, a monograph by Richard Lewis, is published in association with the Queens College Center for the Improvement of Education.
The Center receives the School and Culture Award at Gracie Mansion, presented by the Alliance for the Arts and the New York City Advisory Commission, for the Center’s achievements in fostering the arts as a learning resource.
A selection of art and writing by students exhibited at the Al Oliver Museum at IS 227 based on the Center’s year-long theme, Realms of Knowing.
Touchstone Center Theatre Ensemble presents The World of Something, a theatre piece based on children’s ideas about the imagination performed at the Staten Island Children’s Museum and the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.
Imagination and the Use of Elemental Themes, a workshop and talk, is given at Artworks, an annual conference sponsored by the New York City Arts Teachers Association-UFT at the Martin Luther King Junior High School.
The Journey Within, a documentary by Renascence Films on the thematic teaching of Richard Lewis at IS 227, premières in New York at the Department of Cultural Affairs of New York and the New York Historical Society.
The Flight of the Imagination, an all-day event of readings, performances and workshops for children and their families held, in association with the Central Park Conservancy, at the The Dairy and Belvedere Castle.
Seeing: Literacy and the Images of Nature, a program of the Center’s Literature Residency Program takes place at PS 97 in Manhattan as well as in schools in Jamestown, New York in association with Arts Council for Chautauqua County.
A talk and workshop, In The Meadow of our Thoughts: Improvising into the Life of the Imagination, given by the Richard Lewis at the annual conference of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education in Arlington, Virginia.
The Center, in association with the Orion Society and the Myrin Institute, presents a weekend conference, Speaking With Nature at Caumsett, the Queens College Center for Environmental Education.
As part of its year-long thematic program Realms of Language in schools in District 4 in Manhattan and at IS 227 in Queens, the Center presents A Ceremony of Language, a performance and reading at the Wave Hill Environmental Center celebrating language and its relation to the natural world.
The Center installs a series of murals conceived and painted by students from Kindergarten through Fifth Grade at PS 97 as part of the Center’s Earthmakers Project.
The Workshop for Imaginative Understanding, a group of weekend workshops for teachers, artists and parents to reflect on the nature of the imagination, begins in New York City and subsequently takes place over two years in Oleans, New York; Honolulu, Hawaii; Greensboro, North Carolina, and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Center establishes The Archival Project at the Mercantile Library in order to document and disseminate the work of the Center since its founding in 1969.
The Many Ways of Thought, The Many Ways of Feelings, a thematic exploration through art and writing at IS 227, culminates in dedication of tile mural by fifth and sixth grade students.
As part of its Twenty-fifth Anniversary, the Center presents On The Evolution of the Imagination: Thoughts, Musings and Possibilities, a series of six lectures by noted scientists and writers at the American Museum of Natural History, as well The Making of Worlds: Views from Within, an exhibition of art and writing by students from PS 97 and artists working with the Center.
The Center’s Director, for the twelfth year, conducts a special series of writing workshops with Fourth Grade children at the South School in Hingham, Massachusetts, exploring Chinese poetry and culture.
The Center begins workshops for students at IS 227 in Queens – and the Children’s Workshop School and PS 20 in Manhattan, as well with artists and teachers at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, Ireland as part of Center’s two year thematic project, In The Spirit of Play.
Addressing the needs of high school teachers, the Center continues its monthly workshops, Reading Between the Lines: In Search of the Imaginative, for teachers at the Townsend Harris High School in Queens.
The first issue of The Touchstone Center Journal is published with essays on the imagination by speakers presented by the Center at the American Museum of Natural History and the Abrons Arts Center of the Henry Street Settlement.
The Center presents a day-long workshop for teachers and parents, Making and Doing: The Universality of Creating Art, based on a talk by Ellen Dissanayake as part of the Center’s yearly program, Learning and The Imagination.
In collaboration with Parabola Books, the Center publishes Living By Wonder: The Imaginative Life of Childhood, a collection of essays by the Center’s director written over the last two decades.
The Center exhibits, at the Abrons Arts Center of the Henry Street Settlement, a selection of children’s art and writing created for the Center’s In The Spirit of Play thematic project.
The Center begins planning and implementing its Thirtieth Anniversary thematic project, Speakings: The Many Voices of Language at IS 227, Townsend Harris High School, PS 20, Poets House, Wave Hill, and Queens College
Publication of Each Sky Has Its Words, written by Richard Lewis and illustrated by Gigi Alvare, the first of a series of books published by Touchstone Center Publications, highlighting the poems and stories the Center has used in its educational programs.
The Dialogue of the Imagination, an interdisciplinary series of workshops and conversations for students and faculty, begins at the Townsend Harris High School in collaboration with The College Preparatory Programs of Queens College and Townsend Harris High School.
Construction of The Bird of Imagining, an outdoor sculpture in Sauer Park by Kathy Creutzburg with feathers painted by 200 children from the Children’s Workshop School, and publication of The Bird of the Imagining with illustrations by children from New York City public schools by Touchstone Center Publications. Exhibition of The Bird of Imagining at The Children’s Museum of the Arts.
Beginning of The Tree of Knowing arts and education project at the East Village Community School. Exhibition based on The Bird of Imagining at Poets House and Wichita Public Library. Publication of CAVE: An Evocation of the Beginnings of Art with accompanying exhibition and workshops at the Abrons Arts Center.
Continuation of The Tree of Knowing project at East Village Community School. Bird of Imagining exhibit and workshops at Jamestown Communuity College – and exhibtion of Cave: An Evocation of the Beginnings of Art at Word and Image Gallery, Treadwell, New York.
Arts and Education project, Air, Water, Light at the East Village Community School. The Necessity of Childhood lecture series at the Bank Street College of Education. Publication of A Tree Lives and performances of In the Space of the Sky by the Touchstone Center Theatre Ensemble at Wave Hill.
Completion of Tree Of Knowing Garden at the East Village Community School. Exhibition at Abrons Arts Center of Trees of Knowing: Art and Writing by Children from the East Village Community School. Performance by Touchstone Center Theatre Ensemble of The Sun Returns, A Day Begins: A Journey of Poems at Poets House. Publication of paperbound edition of Living By Wonder and video interpretation by Geoffrey Jones of A Tree Lives by Touchstone Center Publications.
At the East Village Community School, completion of Arts and Education residency, The Sound and Movement, Word and Image Project by The Touchstone Center Theatre Ensemble and establishment of teacher workshop series, Trees of Knowing, Birds of Imagining; performance at Wave Hill of Plant the Sun in Your Hand and accompanying parent and child workshop, What If: The Dreaming of Childhood Into the Natural World; publication of I Catch My Moment: Art and Writing by Children on the Life of Play along with related events at Poets House and Abrons Arts Center featuring Susan Share, Cecilia Vicuña and performance of Play, Said the Earth to Air.
Completion of the outdoor playground mural by Noah Baen and Kathy Creutzburg based on the Play of Playing Arts and Education Project at the East Village Community School and the Children’s Workshop School. Collaboration with the Children’s Workshop School of the Peace Labyrinth created by Kathy Creutzburg. Second year of The Trees of Knowing, Birds of Imagining Workshop at the East Village Community Workshop for teachers and artists, featuring Vivian Gussin Paley – and readings and performances at the Mulberry Street Library by the Touchstone Center Theatre Ensemble as part of the Poets House Family Workshops –and the Family Art Project at Wave Hill. Publication of Shaking the Grass for Dew by New Native Press of poems by Richard Lewis.
Completion of the Rivers of our Thoughts arts and education project at the East Village Community School and the Children’s Workshop School with a mosaic over the school door, created by Noah Baen and Kathy Creutzburg, incorporating the children’s tiles and a group of four banners, made by Kathy Creutzburg inside the lobby of the school, based on children’s writings. Third year of The Trees of Knowing, Birds of Imagining Workshop at the East Village Community Workshop for teachers and artists – and the creation by The Touchstone Center Theatre Ensemble of a new theatre piece, And So It Was Day, based on the Hawaiian creation myth – with a specially commissioned mask by Ralph Lee – and performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wave Hill and Poets House. Publication of Sea Tale by Richard Lewis, with illustrations by Gigi Alvaré. 40th Anniversary of The Touchstone Center.
In association with Poets House, the Center mounted, What Does A Bird Imagine? What Does a Tree Know? An Exhibition for All Ages Based on Outdoor Poetic Spaces in a Public School – highlighting the Center’s nine year collaboration with children and teachers at the Children’s Workshop School and the East Village Community School. The Center also initiated a series of adult and children workshops with PS 99 and the Queens Botanical Garden – as well as a series of conversations with teaching-artists and educators as part of the Performance Project at the University Settlement House, based on the Center’s recent publication of Taking Flight, Standing Still: Teaching Toward Poetic and Imaginative and Understanding. In addition the Center published From The Sleep of Waters with illustrations by Susan Share – along with the DVD release of its documentary film, The Journey Within. Performances by the Touchstone Center Theatre Ensemble took place at Poets House – along with workshops at the Center for Education, Imagination and the Natural World, the City and Country School and the Nantucket Lighthouse School.
In association with Karen Fitzgerald, teaching artist at PS 99(Queens), the Center’s director Richard Lewis completed a series of workshops for 4th graders entitled, On the Infinite Migration of Thoughts and Ideas. In associationwith the Performance Project at the University Settlement, the Center continued its series of conversations, Advocates of the Immeasurable – as well the Touchstone Center Theatre Ensemble presenting its performances of Sea Tale and From the Sleep of Waters, with guest artist Susan Joy Share. In association with CCNY, the Center’s director, initiated a new graduate course Inside and Outside: Childhood, the Natural World, and the Play of Imagining. The Center published We Are Rivers, with a text by Richard Lewis and illustrated by Kathy Cruetzburg, which, in turn, was performed by The Touchstone Center Theatre Ensemble at Poets House.
The Center continued its collaboration with teaching-artist Karen Fitzgerald at PS 99(Queens) in an arts and education residency with 4th Grade students entitled The Dance of Light and Air. In addition, as part of its series A Community of Dialogues, the Center presented workshops on the life of the imagination for teachers, teaching artists, and parents in association with the Storytellers Collective in Woodstock, New York; the Rockwell Museum of Western Art in Corning, New York; and Wave Hill and the Jamaica Arts Center in New York City. For the second year, the Center, in collaboration with the Performance Project at the University Settlement presented its Advocates of the Immeasurable series, featuring Maggie Jackson and Mary Rothschild in a group of workshops entitled The Gift of Reflection and Imaginative Attentiveness in Childhood. The Touchstone Center Theatre Ensemble performed What If You Could Take The Sun and A Tree Lives at Poets House and in Central Park respectively.
The Center continued its arts and education work at PS 99 (Queens), in collaboration with teaching artist Karen Fitzgerald, with a new series of workshops for children and their teachers entitled, The House of My Imagination. In addition the Center began a series of workshops for preschool teachers and staff in conjunction with CCNY entitled The Play of Imagining: Early Childhood and the Elemental Life of Wonder. Short-term workshops, residencies and discussions took place at the School in Rose Valley, Sarah Lawrence College, Governor’s Island, the Community Roots Book Fair, The Literacy Review Workshops at
NYU and the Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature. The Touchstone Center Theatre Ensemble performed a series of weekend performances and workshops of A Tree Lives as part of the Wave Hill Family Art Project. Touchstone Center Publications published Play, Said the Earth to Air illustrated by Heidi Neilson based on original images of Gigi Alvare – and Orion magazine published A Wilderness of Thought: Childhood and the Poetic Imagination. The Center’s Archival Project continued to digitize its historical archive of photographs, films, writings and art by children – and began the first of a series of monthly email newsletters and Facebook anthologies, under the direction of Jaclyn Majewski, highlighting some of the major themes of the Center’s philosophy and history.
A variety of activities took place this year as part the Center’s 45th Anniversary. At the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the Center curated an extended exhibition, Art Inspires Art: How Does a Bird Imagine? What Does a Tree Know? – along with a full day workshop and performance for adults and children entitled, The Nature of Play: A Day of Imagining the Universe at Play. At Poets House, the Center presented a performance and workshop for children, Our Earth, Our Sky: A Celebration of the Poetry of Childhood, as well as an afternoon workshop for adults. And underlying the Center’s anniversary, the publication in The Educational Forum of This Gift, This Knowing, Reaching Toward a Democracy of the Imagination, by Richard Lewis,
Additional activities included: the publication by Touchstone Center Publications of To See: A Photographic Essay based on the Writings of Thoreau featuring the photographs of Helen Buttfield and edited by Richard Lewis; a collaborative Arts and Education residency with Karen Fitzgerald at PS 99 entitled Spaces of Our Imagining, Spaces of Our Dreaming; presentation of the key-note talk at the Play and Imagination conference at the Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature; and the continuing digitization and cataloging of the Center’s archives, under the direction of Jaclyn Majewski, assisted by intern Jeanie Yeo, along with the establishment of the Touchstone Center Archival Outreach Project.
The touring exhibit, Art Inspires Art: How Does a Bird Imagine, What Does a Tree Know? created originally for the Brooklyn Children’s Museum as part of the Center’s 45th Anniversary, was on exhibit for six months at the Kensington Branch of Brooklyn Public Library. In addition, a site-specific exhibit, made up of ceramic vessels created by Carol Grocki Lewis and based on the poem, Enchantments of the Earth by Richard Lewis, was on view from April through October in the garden at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum
A workshop series for parents, teachers, and teaching-artists, The Knowing of Play, The Wisdom of Imagining: How do we preserve what matters for children, was initiated in collaboration at the City and Country School. Also, as part of its arts and education projects, the Center continued its collaboration at PS 99(Q) with teaching-artist Karen Fitzgerald, with a program for Kindergarten and 1st Grade children entitled Worlds into Worlds of Our Imagining,
During the year Richard Lewis spoke at Wheaton College, Bank Street College of Education and the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture about the philosophy and educational work of the Center. And through the efforts of the Center’s Archival Director, Jaclyn Majewski, the Center’s published its first of the Center’s archival materials on its website.
The Center, in collaboration with teaching-artist Karen Fitzgerald, concluded a series of lunchtime conversations entitled Our Wondering, Our Imagining, at PS 99(Q) with a group of self-selected 3rd graders. In addition Richard Lewis gave a series of readings and workshops from his books at the City and Country School, Fieldston School, Community Roots Book Fair, and the Word Up Community Bookstore.
Touchstone Center Publications published Enchantments of the Earth by Richard Lewis and Carol Grocki Lewis – a book for readers of all ages, highlighting the site-specific exhibition in 2015 at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum based on the poem by Richard Lewis and accompanying ceramics by Carol Grocki Lewis.
The sculptures, The Bird of Imagining and The Tree of Knowing, and accompanying banners of children’s original writings, created by Kathy Creutzburg, were permanently installed in the library of the East Village Community School, the Children’s Workshop School and PS 94. These artworks were originally created as part of the Center’s major exhibition of its work at Poets House in 2010 – and subsequently on tour with the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and the Brooklyn Public Library from 2014 -2016.
The Touchstone Center Theatre Ensemble performed Richard Lewis’ In the Space of the Sky as part of Something, Somewhere That is a Room: A Celebration of the Spaces of our Imagining – a special event and workshop at the Manhattan Country School featuring an original documentary video by Gerard Giraldo, based on archival material of the Center’s residency at the school in the 1960’s.
The Center’s Archival Project continued its ongoing cataloguing and archiving various aspects of the Center’s activities since its inception in 1969. The staff of the project transitioned from its recent director, Kris Santos to Michelle de la Cruz–in partnership with Jeanie Yeo, who is presently researching and writing a reflective history of the Center.
In addition, the Center, and its director Richard Lewis, initiated and participated in the following residencies: In collaboration with teaching-artist Karen Fitzgerald at PS 99(Q), an art and writing series for 3rd grade students entitled Reaching for the Other Side of Clouds: Listening to the Language of the Imagination, a series of workshops for Pre-School and Kindergarten classrooms at the East Village Community School entitled Seeds of Our Imagining, Seeds of our Dreaming, along with a series of clay workshops, given by Carol Grocki Lewis, with 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. In addition, Richard Lewis shared his book The Bird of Imagining with the 2nd Grade classrooms at the Fieldston School, as well as a series of workshops for the 5’s and 7’s classrooms at the City and Country School based on his book Play, Said the Earth to the Air.
And finally, at the invitation New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute, Richard Lewis conducted three conversations, based on his book of essays Living by Wonder, as part of the Institute’s series, Leaders Inspiring the Imaginative Experience in Early Childhood Education.
During the Spring of 2018, the Center and its Director, Richard Lewis, gave a series of workshops for children at the City & Country School, based on his book In the Night Still Dark, a rendering of the Hawaiian Creation Myth, illustrated by Ed Young. In addition, in collaboration with Karen Fitzgerald, Richard Lewis took part in a mask-making project for the 3rd Grade at PS 99(Q), based on his poem Be the Wind.
In the Fall of 2018, as part of the Center’s 50th Anniversary in 2019, in collaboration with, and under the direction of Karen Fitzgerald, a special year-long, school-wide project was initiated at PS 99(Q) entitled The Garden of Whispering: An Exploration of the Languages of Nature. Based on Richard Lewis’ book, Each Sky Has Its Words, the project will conclude in the Spring of 2019. Also in the Fall, Richard Lewis gave a reading and workshop for 2nd Grade students at the Fieldston School, based on his poem and book, A Tree Lives, illustrated by Noah Bean.
In the Winter of 2018, two interviews of Richard Lewis, and the work of The Touchstone Center, were published: How Did You Get Here: Fifty Years of Teaching Children Poetry and Being Taught by Them by Robert Hirschfield appeared in Teachers and Writers Magazine – and a podcast interview of Richard Lewis, hosted by Ba Luvmour, as part of his series, Meetings With Remarkable Educators.
As part of the 50th Anniversary of the Touchstone Center in 2019, the year-long project at PS 99(Q), The Garden of Whispering: An Exploration of the Languages of Nature, under the direction of teaching-artist, Karen Fitzgerald, was completed and celebrated in June, with the unveiling of multiple paintings and sculptures by students throughout the school. Other activities, as part of the Center’s Anniversary, were: an honorary award to Richard Lewis, as part of the 2019 Teaching Kindergarten Conference by the Bank Street College of Education; a day-long workshop for teachers, This Knowing: This Speaking: Children’s Conversation with the Natural World, in collaboration with and hosted by Sarah Lawrence College; a series of workshops, based on the theme of A Garden of Imagined Flowers for 5 and 6 year-old children at the City and Country School; and to conclude the year, the publication, by Touchstone Center Publications, of What If . . . A Poem of Our Imagining, written by Richard Lewis and illustrated by Gigi Alvaré.
The Center initiated an interdisciplinary arts project at the City and Country School for the 6 and 7-year-old classrooms, entitled Astronomers of Play – exploring, through the creation of two large murals, the life of play and playing in the sky and the universe at large. In early March, Richard Lewis, in collaboration with Gigi Alvaré, gave a workshop for teachers at The Rockwell Museum, in Corning, NY, entitled What if… The Poetry and Delight of Re-Imagining the World Again. And in the Fall, in collaboration with the Child Development Center at Sarah Lawrence College, Richard Lewis, assisted by Jeanie Yeo, conducted a monthly series of on-line workshops for teachers, entitled, Languages of Being: Reflective Conversations on the Role of Wonder, Play, and Imagination in Learning and Teaching.
Richard Lewis presented a series of workshops, via Zoom, which included the following: Languages of Being: Reflective Conversations on the Role of Wonder, Play, and Imagination in Learning and Teaching, in collaboration with Jeanie Yeo, and sponsored by Sarah Lawrence College; Simple Objects: Validating Children’s Imagination, at the Bank Street College of Education’s Teaching Kindergarten Conference: Where Did the Garden Go; workshop and reading of What If: A Poem of our Imagining, to the 2nd Grade, at the Fieldston School; a workshop series, The Blossoming of Trees, for the 5’s at the City and Country School; a workshop series for teachers, Leaf Songs and Other Imaginings, at the Linden School and Camp; and a seminar-workshop, In the Spirit of Play: Teaching Towards an Ecology of Childhood, in collaboration with Jeanie Yeo and Andrea Davis, at the University of Birmingham in England. In addition, Richard Lewis took part in a Zoom conversation with Karen Fitzgerald, as part of her exhibition, What the Light Saw – and, along with Kristin Eno, was interviewed by Renee Dinnerstein in the second part a two-part series entitled, Living by Wonder: The Imaginative Life of Childhood.
In collaboration with Sarah Lawrence College, Richard Lewis and Jeanie Yeo, presented a 4-part workshop entitled, Languages of Being: Reflective Conversations on the Role of Wonder, Play, and Imagination in Learning and Teaching. In addition, Richard Lewis gave a workshop for the 2nd Grade classes, based on the Center’s publication, I Catch My Moment: Art and Writing on the Life of Play, as part of the Fieldston School’s annual visiting author series – as well as conducting a series of interactive workshops, Our Birds of Seeing, for the 5’s and 6’s classrooms, at the City and Country School. In the Fall, he gave a workshop entitled What Our Childhood Knew: Translating the World into Its Poetry, as part of the New York University’s Literacy Review Workshops. The Touchstone Center continues its long-term Archival Project, overseen by Michelle de la Cruz, along with Simi Best, who recently joined the Center, as its principal archivist.