Grace Tenhula is the Assistant Program Manager at the Children’s Creativity Museum, and she has a lot to say about where she wants the museum to be soon. We sat down with Grace to ask her a few questions about her role and her life outside of the museum. Read through her interview to learn more about her and the work that she does.
How long have you worked with of CCM?
I was an intern last spring. In total, a little over a year. I loved it. I did it after leaving teaching. I was kind of panicked about wanting to work with kids but I didn’t really want to be in the classroom. It was a great transition.
Why did you join CCM?
I really wanted to be teaching things that were fun and tangible. I was really allowed to do that here and use what I learned while being certified. I was able to see the effect and that was really cool.
What is your current role and how long have you been in it?
Now, I am the Assistant Program Manager. I handle the day to day staffing and scheduling of all of our exhibit spaces. I also do quality checks and make sure that things are running smoothly and that the exhibits are clean
What are your main goals for your the position?
I definitely want to add insights that I had from teaching. I’m lucky because right after my internship, I was hired as an On-Call Educator and and On-Call House Manager. I want to incorporate all that I learned from that portion of the job.
What grades did you teach?
I studied elementary education and became a certified teacher. I was a student teacher for third and fourth grade in upstate New York. When I moved to Oakland, I taught after school for first graders. That was my first time in the Oakland School System. I then got a job as a fifth grade teacher for Oakland Unified School District.
Why did you leave teaching?
There were a lot of reasons. Teaching in Oakland primarily to students of color, I felt I was not an appropriate role model. I also didn’t feel like I had the resources or the ability to be the teacher that I expected myself to be. That’s what drew me to CCM.
What do you love most about CCM?
What has really enticed me to stay time and time again has been the community. Most of my coworkers, especially in the education department, were also interns. That says a lot about how much value is put into growth and becoming the best educator that you can. There is this consensus of wanting to build a community and wanting to reflect on what kind of community we are building.
I love teaching here. I love being able to work with different age groups. I can spend my morning with toddlers and my afternoon with 6th graders. It really allows me to flex my teaching muscle.
What’s your favorite exhibit in the museum?
It’s a tie between Innovation and Animation. I like both because of the collaborative nature. You are also able to make something individual. You get to feel good about your own ideas and have this really structured opportunity to hear other’s ideas.
What does success look like in the museum?
Accessibility is something that is really important to me. I like all the free programming we do with mercy housing and other. I’m really proud to work in an organization that provides so many free field trips. Something I learned while working in the school system is how little art exposure students are getting. It can be difficult to pay for field trips. Working at an institution that is accessible for those other institution is something I am proud of that. More and more of that is something I’d like to see.
Getting out into the community and making sure that we are serving those who are not usually served by museums. I think CCM is already making an effort to do that, but doing more
Who inspires you? Why?
The kids. Especially, the kids I left. Everything I do, I try to think about if it would reach those kids. Would this feel applicable to them? That’s who I want to be teaching to. A lot of that goes into how I facilitate my field trips and how I teach others to facilitate their field trips.
What do you do to stay creative?
I mainly do weaving and fiber arts. There is also some drawing and sketching, as well. I started weaving at a summer camp when I was kid. There was a teacher there and we wove on giant looms. Blanket and scarves and things. Because those are expensive and I have nowhere to put it, I just have a frame that has notches and you weave into. It’s mainly wall hangings or fabric. I just got the loom around Christmas time, so I have been experimenting with fuzz recently.
What was your favorite toy as a child?
I had a doctor kit that I really liked. Besides that, I spent most of my time drawing when i was a kid.
What’s something about you or a fun fact that not many people know?
I’m from DC. I had my gallbladder removed. Those are the main ones, and my weaving is always my go-to fun fact.
What’s the last book you read?
The last one that I remember reading and finishing was called Homegoing, and I loved it. I gave t to my grandpa for Christmas because I loved it so much. It starts in the 16th century. It follows two women who live in Africa. One woman gets captured and the other marries into African royalty. Each chapter is a different descendent in their history. It really lays out the systemic effects of slavery and the slave trade on not only the women taken into slavery, but also on the woman married to royalty. The character development is so good. You would think that if you only get a taste of a character for one chapter, you don’t feel as connected. But each one is so good.
If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Probably, Tortellini. It doesn’t give me a stomach ache. There are a lot of different ways you can change it up with spices. It is also really easy to make.
What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
Energetic. Passionate. Curious.
What are three words you would use to describe the museum?
Creative. Comfortable. Fun.
What are you looking forward to most for the future of the museum?
More people being served. More outreach. More communicating with other museums about how to collaborate with each other and share each others missions.
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