Leonetta "Lia" Petriccione MAT ’15

I'm hoping the students will feel empowered by seeing the value of their artistry

Most students graduate from MECA’s Master of Arts in Teaching Program and seek traditional employment as elementary or high school art teachers. Leonetta "Lia" Petriccione MAT ’15 had other ventures in mind. After substitute teaching in her home state of Montana, Lia joined the Peace Corps. Following a rigorous screening process, she found herself teaching at the Wa School for the Deaf in a rural area in the far north of Ghana in West Africa. Lia’s own entrepreneurial spirit, deepened through her MAT Alternative Settings coursework and the values of MECA’s Artists at Work Program, has reinforced a practical component to her teaching. She sees potential in the vocational program, and her goal is to help realize its business potential.

CeCe at the Wa School for the Deaf in Ghana, Africa

Letter from Ghana by Lia Petriccione MAT '15
”Things are going well at my new school! I teach both primary art and the vocational home economics class. When I arrived here, I was happy to see they had a solid vocational program up and running. As a Peace Corps volunteer, I was asked to come here and teach art at the primary level. I do, but I also saw a lot of potential in the vocational department and I wanted to get involved."

“There is a group of students who weave traditional Kente cloth and then the sewing class makes bags and dresses with it. They also embroider beautiful tablecloths. Their work is of really high quality. Sadly, their crafts have been sitting in storage.”

“I saw potential for this to become an income-generating project. The school owns a container store right outside of the gate. We are currently working with the headmaster to have it cleaned out and prepared as a roadside shop to sell the student work. We are recruiting the technical skills class to make a sign for the store as well. I have reached out to fellow Peace Corps volunteers and sold a few items through them. At some point, I hope the sales network expands even further. I'm thinking about writing a grant to build them a new vocational building. The space they are using is not large enough to store their products and work at the same time.”

“People who are deaf face big challenges in Ghana, especially women. To support sustainable capacity, I’m also planning a Let Girls Learn leadership camp for the deaf. I'm hoping the students will feel empowered by seeing the value of their artistry. Having a source of income and pride in work allows for independence and a brighter future.”

Header Image: Grace with Lia Petriccione MAT '15

Sample of student work