High-Quality Activity Ideas from Models of Excellence

Today’s guest post is from Valerie Heron-Duranti, Director of Innovation & Creativity at BGCA. 

Models of Excellence: The Center for High Quality Student Work is a collaborative project between Expeditionary Learning Schools and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. It is a curated, open source collection of incredible high-quality Pre K-12th grade student projects to inspire and elevate teaching and learning.  The purpose of the site is to highlight models of excellent work for educators to use with youth.

Example from the Models of Excellence site

The student work found on the site comes from a wide range of Pre-K – 12th grade schools. Because Expeditionary Learning’s particular mission to work in low-income settings, the majority of student work comes from public schools serving low-income urban and rural communities in the U.S. Although many of these schools dedicate increased time and care to create work of excellence, the quality of work in The Center is not typically the result of special finances or selected students. The site demonstrates that students in every school are capable of this kind of quality.

Sample student work from the Models of Excellence site

One great way that you can use the Models of Excellence site is to get ideas for your activity planning in your Club. On the Projects page, you can filter student work samples by grade level (from Pre-K to 12th grade) and by subject (including all academic subjects and both visual and performing arts). For each project, you can find samples of student work, a project overview, and downloadable resources. This site is free to use.

Models of Excellence Projects page

Boys & Girls Clubs staff across the country have seen the profound impart the arts have on Club member’s lives. While lack of funding for the arts is a barrier, BGCA remains committed to providing youth access, exposure and development opportunities in the arts. BGCA and local Clubs have listened to members’ interests and developed newer forms of arts programs including video game design, web design, digital photography and DJ recording programs. We believe that arts programming and activities are not a means to an end, but rather an essential human experience.

Our focus in the arts and artistic expression bridges many of the ‘gaps’ in our youth’s experience: social and economic, cultural, language, developmental, and many more. Creative expression, be it through dance and movement, visual arts, language arts, drama, photography, etc., creates a bridge to reach some of the most unreachable kids and gives them a means to reveal who they are, what they dream about, and who they want to be.”

 – Amanda Fisher, Program Director, Boys & Girls Club of Napa Valley


BGCA also hosts an online gallery of national winning artwork from our three legacy arts contests: National Fine Arts Exhibit, ImageMakers National Photography Program and Digital Arts Festivals. Check out the BGCA gallery here and find out more about how your Club can participate at BGCA.net. 


Valerie has been at BGCA for five years. In her free time, she loves to dance and is a former Zumba instructor!

How do you incorporate the arts at your Club? Let us know in the comments or email at ClubXBlog@bgca.org and YOU could be featured on the Club Experience Blog!

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