SDAIE and drawing students collaborate to create book of life experiences


Emer Martinez

The third issue of the Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English book came out on Friday, March 29, titled “Inner Strength- Life Experiences and Experiencing Life.” SDAIE, or Specially Designed Academic Institution in English, is a cross between standard English classes and English Language Development (ELD).

Covering topics from shyness to bullying to self-confidence, this year’s theme centered around expressing oneself in a way that shows the “complex multi-layered person they (students) are,” according to the SDAIE book.

The initial conversation of this project started between English teacher Paige Price and drawing teacher Meghan Engle around 2013. However, the production of the book did not start until 2016, when English teacher Olivia Lin reached out to Engle to encourage art students to create illustrations for her English students’ writing.

SDAIE student reads aloud his poem from the book at the release party

Freshman Neha Keagy, who is currently enrolled in Engle’s Drawing I class, shared her experience with this project.

“It was a really interesting project because when I was illustrating this story I also had to interpret myself,” Keagy said.

Keagy used a watercolor pencil to illustrate a short story by sophomore SDAIE student Jhonnatan Uribe. Uribe writes about his experience immigrating to the United States five years ago. His narrative titled “Hermanos” recalls childhood memories of his friend, Abel. The corresponding picture is comprised of gray and black hues, depicting a set of holding hands with a single slash separating them.

When asked why this project was introduced between the two classes, drawing teacher Engle believed it would build strong relationships between the two groups of students.

“I thought it was a great way to get students to have new conversations with students that they normally wouldn’t,” Engle said.

“I thought it was a great way to get students to have new conversations with students that they normally wouldn’t,” Engle said. “It was a real-life experience for students to connect what they are learning in class to a broader range in other subject areas.”

Engle added that it is a big risk to share personal stories with other students, but it brings more power to their stories and strengthens the message overall. The collaboration between the two classes helps to give the drawing students more confidence in their artistic ability and provides the English students a chance to express their stories in a visual medium, cultivating a symbiotic relationship.

Another narrative, by SDAIE student Luis Guevara, focuses on an important soccer match. He describes himself as a shy person whose opportunity to play and serve as a captain in a college showcase allowed him to leave his comfort zone.

“Somehow, my shyness went away and I started communicating with my team as if I’d been playing with them since I was born,” Guevara wrote.

Administrator Carmen Gomez praises students for their collaboration during the release party

While meeting with his assigned artist, Henry Homer, Guevara explained that he gave details regarding the color of his jersey and shape of the trophy. He adds that he was very impressed with the final product, another watercolor pencil piece that portrays a triumphant hand holding a trophy with a red and white jersey as the background.

According to the SDAIE book, this project was a “meaningful project” that could not have been completed without the collaboration between the SDAIE and drawing classes, as well as the SDAIE tutors.

“The students have a gained confidence, as well as a voice in their art and an audience,” Engle said.