Peer mentorship program unites students with disabilities in pairs with high school juniors and seniors


The ArtThread team integrates a peer mentorship program within the classroom and curriculum of Bungalows O and P at Montgomery High School in Santa Rosa, CA. College-bound juniors and seniors are paired with students with disabilities, and together they explore the art-making process using ArtThread’s online artmaking tools. The mentors learn to work with people who do not necessarily share their life advantages, and the students with disabilities get a series of “no-fail” moments where they experience victorious creativity. This ongoing program includes ArtThread training, adaptive technology, and evaluation research, and is funded in part by the Schlesinger family.



From the teachers – “What ArtThread has done for our students.”

“Many of our students have autism and other processing disorders. They tend to struggle with connecting with others, even their peers, and find communication to be quite stressful. For these students. Art Thread has allowed them to become more comfortable. As they work side by side and in partnership with their peers they share a focus on the art making. Social bonds are created without the initial need for direct, face-to-face interaction.  I have witnessed more cooperation, turn-taking, respecting differences and other social skills being practiced in an enjoyable, natural setting.  Additionally,  looking at a peer’s artwork offers a concrete way to “see” another person’s point of view, something that is frequently difficult for our students to do.

“We have several students with sensory fixations, where they repetitively engaging in self-stimulating behaviors (or “stimming”).  ArtThread has helped these students to substitute their “stimming” behaviors with more appropriate outlets that provide the desired sensations and calming and soothing strategies by channeling their agitations into their creation of art.”

–Tracy Gould, Education Specialist Montgomery High School, Santa Rosa, CA


“My name is Sidney Marocco and I am a special education teacher at a high school. I teach 9th-12th grade students with moderate to severe disabilities. I was informed about a program called ArtThread that sounded amazing for my students. After meeting with Jay, we set a schedule and outcome we wanted for the students. Jay and his team of general education high school students, came into the classroom and taught them the wonderful program of ArtThread. At first, they were given the opportunity to just make art. This was a free time for them to learn the tools, colors and shapes. The students LOVED it. They were able to make some amazing, intricate designs with this program that they might not be able to make on paper. As the time went on they learned how to work together to create art. This really allowed my students to work on their communication, social skills and use their imagination skills.  The students also were able to make collages based on the different community signs they see and different weathers we have. We have been able to connect what we are learning in school and apply that to the art they make.

“The program has been fantastic for all my students. It has made them proud of the work they create and engaged in each other. It has promoted arts in a way that I have never experienced before. It has allowed my students who have physical limitations to create some amazing art that they have never been able to create. I would love for my students to continue to work together and create amazing art! Thank you!”

–Sidney Marocco, Education Specialist, Montgomery High School, Santa Rosa, CA

Making art!
Drawing on the iPad