After a long morning of Ohio state testing on language arts this Wednesday, sixth graders at Summit Academy Community School – Warren went on a cultural expedition of sorts. Their teacher, Will McSuley, aka Mr. Mac, introduced the students to the Kabuki mask, a symbol of Japanese art and culture.

For a brief hiatus from regular coursework, Mr. Mac asked his sixth graders to read a short article about Kabuki masks and explain what they are by way of micro essays. The students were asked to outline the article’s main idea and include three supporting details. Colorful paints and blank masks for every student followed, with an assignment to create a masked that answered: “If you were in a play, what mask would you have for yourself?”

Influenced by his own former sixth-grade teacher Doreen Miner, who retired recently from Glenwood Middle School in Boardman, Mr. Mac says he enjoys putting a spin on classroom lessons, using art whenever possible and introducing his students to different cultures in the process.

“Especially because many of the students may never leave Warren or see the broader world around them, I like to bring in different cultures and events in history so they can see the world on some level,” he explains.

Is similar fashion, Mr. Mac’s seventh graders created Harlem Renaissance face masks earlier this year. He says he hoping to also engage his fifth-grade students in a future lesson linked to traditional African masks.

“The kids love it,” he says.