Bren's week at our school was one of the best weeks we've ever had! The work that he did in our community was truly transformative. He started with fun, meaningful drawing workshops and assemblies. In these assemblies he introduced students and faculty to his mission as an artist: to spread kindness and happiness throughout the world. He encouraged and inspired students to create their own drawings and characters, tapping into their creativity, and encouraging them to take risks - no erasing! Then he set to work on the mural! Throughout the week, students passed by Bren working and the positivity just seemed to spread throughout our entire building. Students would offer a compliment or hand him a drawing and he would explain a bit about his art work - it just filled our school community with so much joy. Working closely with our graduating 5th graders, he designed a beautiful mural to showcase the theme of kindness. This is something our community will treasure for years to come. Bren's work in our school, combined with the kindness that radiates from him, was a breath of fresh air!
Christina Cotter, Principal
South Bay Elementary School
West Babylon, NY
Bren Bataclan’s visiting artist mural project was an exciting and invigorating experience for our entire school. He began his week with Monday morning assemblies that engaged students and staff K-5 in thinking and drawing as artists. Students were energized by the chance to brainstorm and create whimsical characters while embracing mistakes as learning opportunities- “No erasures!” Bren’s ‘smile project’ quickly took hold, and students were looking for ways that they could ‘pay it forward’ with their peers and teachers.
Our Fifth graders were the luckiest of all as they brainstormed the theme for a mural in a central corridor. Facilitated by Bren, students worked in partners to create characters and words connected to our school-wide themes of inclusion, respect, community, and kindness. At the unveiling of the mural, students were awed to find their drawings, exactly as they had created them, represented on the mural! Bren’s friendly, calm, and engaging style, captivated students. Quick to ask students their names and a little bit about themselves, Bren set a caring sense of community. Students dropped by to give Bren drawings or just to ask a question, and it truly felt that in one week’s time, he had become a special part of our school. We are so grateful for the PTO’s support of this program and look forward to Bren returning to SPS!
Linda Whitney, Principal
Bren spent just over an hour presenting his work and his artistic trajectory to my high school Career Exploration class. Picture 18 high school students, tired after lunch and a full morning of classes, itching to take out their phones and send one last text, thinking about the test or quiz later in the day, or what their friend just told them in the hallway. Each student slouched in their chair, looked up at Bren, and listened to Bren talk about his early life, inspirations, philosophy on the world and art. As he spoke, I saw their bodies shift forward, listening intently to hear about Beanie or look closely at photos of his artwork in the hands of people all across the world. He truly engaged the students in his life and art. And then he started drawing! I watched my classroom come alive. Every one of my teenage students was drawing intently at their desk, chatting and laughing and emphatically raising their hands to be called on to show their work. It was the most fun, lively and heartwarming experience I have had as a teacher and I am truly grateful. I will never forget that hour, and I'm sure my students feel the same.
Christina Brown, Guidance Counselor and Career Exploration teacher
Newton South High School
We were so blessed to have Bren Bataclan join us for a weeklong adventure celebrating art, personal expression, kindness, and positivity. Bren enthralled students and staff during school assemblies by sharing his story and teaching us how to draw fun characters like he does. He helped us embrace "mistakes" by saying he does not erase anything he draws and encouraging us to do the same. After building our confidence with each new drawing, he invited all of us to contribute our original submissions to be considered for the murals he would be creating for our school over the course of the week. Bren selected many student drawings and crafted beautiful, bright, colorful, and friendly murals that bring smiles to the faces of all who pass them. As Bren worked during the week in the main corridor, students stopped to admire his work and share a few words with him. Bren is so kind and always took a moment to chat with the children; you could tell he enjoyed engaging with them. One student visited multiple times a day and Bren made a painting just for him, which meant so much to this youngster. Bren is all about bringing joy, as evidenced by the paintings he leaves all over the world and the work he does in schools, and he certainly brought us much happiness. His murals continue to bring happiness every day. We are so grateful for the special week we spent with Bren and we cannot wait to have him back again.
Annette Doyle, Principal
Peter Noyes School
We were so lucky to have Bren Bataclan visit our school this September 2019. He spent a week with our students and staff. His visit was filled with unforgettable moments. After his presentation on the first day, the students were waiting with anticipation to see if their drawings were going to make it on the mural. We decided upon a world theme with kindness sprinkled in all around the school. Our favorite part is the word wall which contains our kindness words for every month of the year. Students and teachers will stop in front and discuss the words as a class. Every adult who enters our building is in awe of the mural of the world, objects by the gym, art rooms, reading and math rooms, and our music rooms. His enthusiasm and kindness to students is a joy to witness. Every teacher wanted to be in his presence and have him paint something by their rooms! He was patient and caring with every student who stopped to talk to him during his residency. We all miss him!
Karen Palmerini, Reading Specialist
Stagecoach Elementary School
Having Bren at our school for a week was a culture-changing experience for our community. The opening assemblies he did with all of our students brought his powerful message across loud and clear. The themes of being kind to one another, paying it forward, and experiencing happiness fit in perfectly with our school’s Core Values. The final project Bren created exemplifies and memorializes our philosophies in teaching and learning in the 21st century. He taught children to draw in his unique style, which was engaging and motivating for all! Bren then took the art work of over 70 students (and staff) and incorporated each and every drawing into a meaningful, thoughtful, attractive mural located a very special area of our building. During this process, he built special relationships and memories with us that will be with us forever. The morning of Bren’s scheduled departure, he surprised us with an unexpected treat...which spoke volumes about his character and genuine passion about his work. We are grateful for all he has done for us!
Valerie R. Massimo, Principal
Lloyd Harbor School
It was truly our pleasure to have artist Bren Bataclan at our school! One of our students read the book, “Bren Bataclan: Smile Artist” and came to me as the principal to ask, “Can we have Bren come to our school?” I replied with, “I don’t know, but let’s see if we can get ahold of him to find out.” The seed planted by one student became a week-long residency that brought our school community together. Bren did interactive assemblies with all of our students. He held a workshop with our fifth graders and each of them was able to design a character that Bren incorporated into the mural. As Bren worked, multiple faculty and staff picked up a brush and helped paint. The resulting mural is a spectacular show piece highlighting our vision for kindness. I highly recommend anyone who is interested to reach out to Bren and bring him to your school. We cannot stop talking about the experience and we forever have the mural.
Dr. Dan Murray, Principal
T.J. Connor Elementary School
My school had the privilege of hosting Bren for a week residency. It started out as an idea from one student and turned into this amazing experience for our whole school to witness. Bren was able to show all of our students how he creates his characters. His assemblies were interactive and our students left feeling inspired and able. While Bren was here, he created our vision of "Kindness." The inclusive nature of how he creates his murals really gave our 5th graders a sense of ownership. Over the week many staff and faculty members would stop to participate and add their touch to our Mural. Bren came into our school and brought inspiration and he has truly left Kindness behind. It was so wonderful to be able to work with Bren. This was definitely the highlight of the school year! Thank you Bren for the positive light and vision you brought to our school.
T.J. Connor Elementary School
We were incredibly fortunate to have had Bren Bataclan spend a week with us at Goosehill Primary School in Cold Spring Harbor, NY. Not only did he create a beautiful, child-centered, vibrant mural, he brought joy to our school every day. Bren is a unique individual who has the power to make people feel valued, creative, and connected. He exudes kindness, care, and joy in all of his interactions, with children and adults alike.
None of us could imagine how he would actually design and paint a mural based on the ideas of first graders. We watched, incredulous, as he did just that! Bren taught the children to draw his characters (which they continue to do, weeks after his residency) and then helped them work collaboratively to draw characters that would represent what they value in their school. He took their drawings and recreated them on the mural- adding his artistic talent and style while remaining true to the children's work---so much so that they could point to the mural and identify their contributions.
Since Bren left, my office has been flooded with children's drawings and notes to be sent to him, emails from parents explaining the impact he had on their children (one telling me that Bren "flipped a switch" in their child who now sees himself as an artist), and staff stories about how many times Bren made them smile while he was here and how much they miss him.
This was an exceptional artist-in-residency experience for our students that resulted in a mural that will bring smiles to the faces of our school community for years to come.
Lynn Herschlein, Principal
Goosehill Primary School
Cold Spring Harbor, NY
We were very fortunate to spend a wonderful week with Bren at Dallin Elementary in Arlington, MA. He is a positive, fun, and creative force who infused our school with a sense of inclusivity and kindness. Bren definitely brought out everyone's inner artist! He connected with each person -- student and adult -- with whom he interacted by asking them questions and including them in the design and execution of our mural.
The entire week was fun as we learned how to draw the happy characters, designed different elements of our mural, and watched Bren work his magic. Every morning students came into school early to linger, ask Bren questions and show off the mural to their parents. He received a steady stream of compliments! Bren took all that positive energy and reflected it right back into our community.
Bren is a warm, generous, and talented man who became an important part of our school's story. We are better because of our work with him and are reminded each day when we walk by our mural to share more smiles and bring more kindness to others.
Samantha Karustis, Assistant Principal
The John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Randolph Massachusetts welcomed Bren in September 2019 for a week-long residency. Bren was professional, organized, and patient while working with us to plan his residency. Communication was excellent! The time Bren spent with us at JFK was simply amazing! Bren brought our cafeteria to life with his paintings inspired by students’ STARR illustrations. STARR stands for Safety, Teamwork, Aspire, Respect, Responsibility. Bren was engaging, inspiring, and fun… all while conveying the importance of kindness. Our hearts were all sparkling! We miss Bren, and hope he is able to visit again one day.
Michelle Richard, Art Teacher
John F. Kennedy Elementary School
Solon Intermediate is a small 4th and 5th grade learning center that houses roughly 250 students in Solon, Iowa. We opened our doors in August of 2018, and wanted to find creative ways to make the year memorable for our students. One of those ways included Mr. Bren Bataclan. We had some 5th grade students who read a book about the Smile Artist and thought it would be fun to have him visit our school. A couple of our teachers took it from there and and we were able to have Bren visit in the spring of 2019. From the moment Bren was set up in our gym, the students fell in love with his kindness and approach. His story impacted many, and we were very blessed to have him spend the day with us. The kids were inspired to share their art with others as often as possible, and asked for him to come back next year!
Intermediate School Principal/Director of Special Education
From the moment the kids read Bren’s biography, they begged me to get him to visit La Crosse, WI. Thanks to a grant from our LaCrosse Public Education Foundation, I was able to make their dream a reality. When I first talked with Bren, I knew he was exactly what we needed for our school. Bren’s commitment to his work and communication are absolutely amazing. He was in constant contact with me to ensure everything was in place and his assurance of how fun, positive, and energetic this experience would be, exceeded our expectations.
When Bren arrived, his enthusiasm and passion for his work was so evident. As he presented to our students, he captured their attention and made every child feel valued and empowered. Bren’s Smile Project embodies what we hope our students are learning each day – that acts of kindness can be paid forward, smiles are free, and every day we should work toward doing our best.
Selfishly, I would have wanted Bren to stay with us forever. The mural he left is a special memory, but the message he brings is a treasure and the love he has for his work, for others, and for the schools he visits, is truly remarkable. Bren is an incredible artist, an amazing person, and a caring individual always looking for ways to brighten someone’s day.
The children were so inspired by Bren's art that they have continued drawing at home and school since his visit. As Bren painted the mural, the students watched and visited with him. The students and staff LOVED working with Bren and the mural he made for the State Road. The teachers and students were so impacted and expressed that Bren’s visit was the best experience they’ve ever had.
I will never forget the week I spent with Bren and the energy he brought to State Road. I am not sure I can put into words how alive and excited everyone was during the week. I am (we are) so grateful. Thank you Bren for bringing joy and life to our school again. We miss you and hope to have you back again some day!
5th Grade Teacher
State Road Elementary
La Crosse, WI
We couldn't be any happier with our experience with Bren as our artist in residence at the Hardy School! We asked Bren to paint a mural for us with our 5th graders during our "Kindness Week." Bren also lead the entire student body in a series of assemblies. His message of kindness and his talent as an artist lit a fire in our students and the week took off right away. The positive energy Bren brought to the school was infectious and our kids could not get enough of him! They, too, began leaving drawings for others with a message of kindness and sharing. As Bren painted our mural in the lobby, students and teachers, as well as family members, would stop and chat. Bren had an endless amount of energy and patience and stopped to share with everyone. He worked so quickly, too, that we could not believe it when our beautiful mural was completed by Friday morning! I joked with Bren that I need to hire him on to be our greeter at Hardy full time, as his presence is now very much missed! However, the mural he left us greets everyone as they enter the school. You can't help but smile when you see it. We are so grateful that Bren came to share his talent and his kindness with us! We recommend him 100%!
Hardy Elementary School
I had the honor to be asked by our school's PTO to photograph Bren as he worked, meeting with the students and then painting a mural based on their drawings. Every fifth-grader has a drawing represented on our mural -- from kids who previously thought they had no drawing ability (but Bren encouraged them and to show they do) to kids who already have their own personal style of drawing (which Bren mimicked admirably on the wall). He also painted ideas from faculty, staff, and administrators. As he painted, kids would come by to check his progress on their way to the gym or the nurse's office, and he surprised me by knowing their names!
One technique that Bren demonstrates when he does a school residency is that he never erases his original pencil marks. Some of the students question why he does this, and I think it's an important lesson: the process is as important as the product, and even if you make mistakes, those mistakes were useful (even necessary) steps on the path to success.
Thanks to Bren, now the first things people see when they walk into our school are a lot of smiles, a welcome banner, and a thought bubble reminding us to ask what we can do to make the world a better place.
As Bren showed his finished mural to the students on the last day of his residency, one fourth-grader raised their hand and asked, "Can you come back when we're in fifth grade?"
Hardy Elementary School
It doesn’t happen often that you get a presenter for a school that is engaging, educational, energetic, thought provoking and FUN! Bren Bataclan delivers just that.
Bren worked will all grades at our K-8 school. He was able to present to each age level in a developmentally appropriate way and kept the students captivated and engaged. With our 8th graders, he taught them how to craft their own characters which he lovingly morphed into a beautiful mural which incorporated our school motto. The result was a sensational mural that students, staff and parents love!
When students were asked what they learned we heard comments such as:
“It’s ok to make mistakes.”
“I am an artist.”
“Make someone smile.”
Bren was so exceedingly personable, always asking names and making the students and staff feel special. He was the sunshine and happiness that brightened our souls and the walls at our school. I would highly recommend Bren to any school!
St. Maria Goretti School
Our school was so fortunate to have the opportunity to have Bren with us for a week-long artist-in-residence in February. Bren made an exceptional effort to include our entire community so that everyone was able to be a part of this one of a kind experience! He began the week meeting with all of our students and spreading his message of kindness and how important it is to simply bring a smile to others. He connected with our students through stories of his travels and through teaching the children how to create his characters (no erasing!). He went above and beyond throughout the week to create a mural that was incredibly meaningful to our school and has brought new life into our library. He made such an impact on our entire community - students, teachers, administration, and parents. We will never forget the week we spent with Bren and the energy and spirit he brought into the school - I am not sure I can put into words how alive and excited everyone was during the week and we are grateful to have the mural to remember and carry it on to future students!
Brown Elementary School
We can’t stop talking about Bren and his wonderful presentations for our school! Teachers, parents, children—we’ve all been affected by his joy for art and creativity. As a parent, I loved having my children come home from school and immediately start drawing. My Kindergartener even left messages and drawings around our house encouraging people to take his art and smile—just like he learned from Bren! I heard similar stories from other parents who heard rave reviews from their children—and we all know how hard it can be to get kids to talk about their day at school! Bren clearly made an impression. Teachers loved how he engaged each class (K-3) with age appropriate activities and questions. It was very impressive how he scaled each presentation for the age he was working with at the time. As a parent and an educator, I can tell that Bren has worked hard to perfect his presentations, making sure that every child is engaged and feels “seen”. I can’t wait to have him back next year!
PTA Coordinator for Arts and Humanities
This past Spring, I was introduced to Bren and had the opportunity to watch him turn a blank space into a true work of art in a neighboring school. I immediately began to work with our PTG to determine how we could bring Bren to NGES. This Fall, we had the distinct pleasure of welcoming Bren to NGES for a week long residency. He began by engaging our students in an inspiring all school meeting. Picture just under 300 pre-school through 1st grade students sitting on the floor of our cafeteria fully engaged, drawing and working in teams to create what would become our school mural with a focus on C.A.R.E.S- it was amazing!
Fast forward to Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Bren welcomed every student, staff and parent as they checked out his progress in bringing the mural to life. Each groups picture hung on the wall as he drew and painted it, allowing students and staff to see just how important their work was in making this project happen! As he finished up on Friday, we again came together as a school community, this time in our library to "unveil" a masterpiece! Bren fielded compliments galore, questions and shared that he would be posting the students original work in his studio, inviting all students to visit him. I truly cannot say enough about this enrichment opportunity! Our students and staff enjoyed Bren's visit tremendously and not a day has gone by since where a student, staff or visitor comments on the mural and how it connects directly to our school's values. Thank you Bren for bringing this project to life and for becoming an integral member of our NGES school community!
North Grafton Elementary School
We were thrilled to welcome Bren Bataclan to Beaver Country Day School for a week. His message of spreading kindness, being proud of your work, and trying something out of your comfort zone helped set the tone for a positive school year. Bren worked with students in grades 6 -12 and instantly connected with them. He also worked with our parent community and received very positive feedback. Bren built a lot of relationships in his short time with us and will be remembered for a long time. We hope to work with him again.
Our sixth grade classes were completely engaged during Bren’s full presentation. Bren was able to connect with students while also conveying his message of kindness through chronicling his worldwide travels and giving his art to random people in return for a promise to smile more. It was wonderful to see all the sixth graders feel successful in their drawing skills and still express their unique creative touch while absorbing Bren’s profound but simple message. Seeing how Bren energized and captivated our Upper School students was fascinating. He put actions to his words and enabled students to interact with him and to remember his main message: share kindness and smile. Students left with that and so much more. The only downside is that he only stayed one week. Please come back soon.
Director, Hiatt Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement
Varsity Girls' Lacrosse Coach
Beaver Country Day School
On October 11, 2018, the Thomas Carroll Elementary School in Peabody, MA, had the pleasure of hosting artist, Bren Bataclan. He spent the day at our school presenting his story about the Smile Project and instructing our K-5 students and teachers on how to draw his amazing characters. Bren's presentations and positive message fit in with our school, and students were engaged the entire time, especially when drawing their own characters. The next day, students and teachers thanked me for inviting Bren to our school. They truly loved everything about his presentations. Thank you, Bren. We will always remember your visit every time we look at your paintings hanging on our school wall.
Title One Reading Tutor
When I first saw Bren Bataclan’s work, I thought, “Is this going to be for our school? Is it worth the investment?” I give him a hands up YES! Mr. Bataclan’s work with our students has made a significant difference in how students embrace diversity, creativity and a positive mindset. Every time someone new comes to our building, they want to know about the work that our students have done on our walls. Each time they ask, I have the fortunate role of re-living the experience. Throughout Mr. Batalclan’s residency, the students learned that everyone is an artist, there is no “right or wrong” and mistakes are welcomed. (we still have the pencil marks to prove it.) He made every effort to reach all of our 500 students. He planted the creative seed for many students who may have been reluctant to share otherwise. In helping our students create a moving up legacy project, Mr. Bataclan had a magic that made us all feel like we were the only school in the world…and for that week, we were. As a principal, I have the fortunate role of choosing special programs for our school. His impact here was everlasting.
Michael F. Stokes School
As an educator of almost 20 years I have had the opportunity to bring a variety of enrichment opportunities to my students. When I first heard about Bren's work in area schools I was immediately intrigued. After reviewing his website and speaking with him I knew we must get him to North Street! My expectations were high, but Bren surpassed them in every way. His approach with students, staff, and families was exceptional. His presence at the school throughout the week added to our kind, welcoming, and enthusiastic environment.
Bren's ability to engage all students during his assembly was simply amazing. As he painted throughout the week he encouraged students, staff, and teachers to stop to view his work and ask questions. By the end of the week he was already remembering many student names! As one teacher shared, "you can't walk past his artwork and not smile!" His ability to enrich our school through art will have a lasting impact on North Street for years to come. I think it goes without saying that we highly recommend other schools to have Bren visit! We certainly hope to have him back to North Street soon!
North Street Elementary School
Bren completed a week long residency at the JC Solmonese Elementary School this past spring 2018. He completely transformed our students, staff, and building with his positive energy and art work. Our students were so excited to see him every day in our cafeteria and to watch the progress made on the four large mural canvases he was creating for our school. Bren had appropriate and engaging art lessons for our young students and motivated all by his fun & engaging assemblies. We miss him already at JCS. Thank you so much for bringing life & color back to our building!
3rd Grade Teacher
JC Solmonese Elementary School
Bren Bataclan did a week-long residency at Powell Magnet Elementary Center for Play and Ingenuity in February 2018. During his time at the school, he did drawing workshops for all the students, plus a more intensive drawing workshop with the three fifth grade classes. All grades of students loved the drawing workshops. They were so inspired! Our PTA Facebook lit up all week with parents sharing drawings done by students. The characters developed during the fifth grade workshop were drawn into a large wall mural by Bren during the week. All week, classes of kids stopped by to watch Bren paint, and we're able to chat with him about his work. We had a Literacy Night event during the week, and Bren was able to talk with parents, and even let some of the parents and teachers help paint color on some of the characters. The whole week was so fun, and the kids get to see the mural as they come in from the bus every morning, and remember how they were part of its creation. This residency was definitely money well-spent by the PTA, and the whole school community benefitted from Bren's work and willingness to stop and talk with everyone who was interested in learning more about him, the mural, and his work.
Shelby Powell, PTA Member
Powell Elementary School
It was such a wonderful day having you at our school. You truly made a difference in the lives of our students! The kindness and compassion you show through the way in which you conduct yourself as well as your art work are wonderful examples of the traits we want for our students. Thank you again!
Jim Martino, Principal
Edward J. Arthur Elementary School
We really enjoyed your presenation. You did a masterful job of including everyone. You truly inspired a whole classroom of students to embrace their artistic side and draw. I love your rule--No erasing! Thank you for sharing your passion and positive outlook!
Les Cheneaux Community Schools
The students and teachers at Browns Point Elementary School in NE, Tacoma had the pleasure of hosting artist Bren Bataclan for a week long mural project in October 2017! Bren is funny, kind and an amazing artist! The students and teachers had fun drawing with him and it was pretty cool to see him in action. He truly lives by his motto: "Don't erase!" Bren was very accommodating to our schools' needs which was to paint the mural on four large canvases that would be movable. We are in the process of having a new school built and we are planning on hanging and showcasing the canvases in our new location. Each colorful canvas has images painted on it that relate to one of our schools' 4 core values of behaving in the "Beluga Way," which is to be Responsible, Respectful, Safe, & Kind.
Bren kicked off the week with conducting two school wide assembles. Students and teachers arrived with a pencil and drawing paper in hand. Bren instructed everybody in step-by-step practice sketches and then by taking the suggestions of the audience he drew a few funny impromptu characters himself. Following the assemblies, Bren got straight to work with the 5th graders in developing images that would be incorporated into the mural scenes. By the end of the week the mural was complete. The students enjoyed spending time with Bren, learning from him, watching him, talking to him, and drawing and creating art with him. The mural turned out to be exactly what we were hoping for. The unveiling created a huge cheer with the 5th grade students grinning from ear to ear! Bren will always have a home away from home here at Browns Point. Thank you Bren for such a fun, smile filled and creative week! Keep smiling! :)
Parent and PTA Volunteer
Browns Point Elementary School
In May 2017, our school had the pleasure of a well anticipated visit by artist Bren Bataclan. He spent the day at our school working with our K-5 students and teachers throughout the day. Each of the three sessions were engaging and well designed to accommodate each age group. Following the story of Bren’s journey as an artist, the students were given the opportunity to express their artistic ability. Bren showcased a variety of our students’ work. They were so excited to share their own versions of their artistic expression. We are looking forward to a future visit. Bren’s enthusiasm and passion touched each student and created e a wonderful memory for our students and teachers.
2016 New York State Teacher of the Year
There is something magical about bringing children and art together. The creative possibilities are endless! I have had the pleasure of the "Bren Bataclan Experience" as a parent and as a teacher. Both were equally wonderful! Art has always been a part of my life, as my grandfather was a professional artist for MGM. So as a mom, I make it a part of my own children's lives. A handful of years ago, I learned that my kids would be exposed to Bren's art and kind message at their school, Westminster Elementary in Westminster, MA. Drawing his characters became a daily event in my house and we still have sketches of Beanie and the cat floating around. All 3 of my kids were able to learn from him in ways that touched their minds and their hearts.
As a teacher, I have always incorporated elements of art into my classroom to allow for creative thinking, and what better way to encourage creative thinking than to host an artist in residence! This year, a colleague and I were able to bring Bren to our school. Elm St. School in Gardner, MA was transformed during the week Bren was here! The energy, spirit and happiness in our school was incredible. Students and teachers alike were lifted by his wonderful message of spreading kindness. Something as simple as a smiling picture can change your attitude, your day, your life. As we pass by the mural created by Bren and the children, we can't help but be reminded of the warm feeling we had that week in our hallways and our classrooms. Just like the feeling my own children felt after their time with Bren, our students and staff at Elm St. will forever remember our magical time spent with Bren.
Instructional Math Coach
Elm Street School
Jefferson School in Summit, NJ was fortunate, through the generosity of the Summit Educational Foundation and the Jefferson School PTO, to have Bren Bataclan in residency for one week in March of 2017. His work during that time extended far beyond the mural that he completed which incorporated drawings from every 5th grade student here at Jefferson School. Bren was a gigantic presence the entire week. It seems he was everywhere in the building spending time with students, connecting with staff and / or painting the mural and stopping to provide his story and explain the mural he had created. His calm, kind manner was contagious and we found our students benefitting from this as well. The mural is outstanding and a lasting memory of his visit. I’m certain his connections with students and staff will last as long.
Ron Poles, Principal
Jefferson Elementary School
Summit New Jersey
Claypit Hill students and staff were so fortunate to work with Bren Bataclan in February 2017. Thanks to a grant from Wayland Public Schools Cultural Enrichment Committee, Bren completed a one-week residency in which he inspired and involved each of Claypit's 545 students in the design of our health and wellness themed cafeteria mural. As a result, the children proudly own this mural. Bren is an amazing artist, but more importantly, he is a kind and caring person. During his residency, Bren often took time to eat lunch with students and to connect with staff members. Everyone was disappointed when his time with us was complete.
Christie Harvey, Ed.D.
Principal, Claypit Hill School
Wayland Public Schools
For one week, our school witnessed the transformation of the walls in our cafeteria (where Mr. Bren Bataclan painted his murals) and the climate of our school. A heightened sense of pride is evident as students, parents, and teachers feel more connected to their community. The bright colors of Bren's artwork is an excellent way for a school to express communal goals. Personally, I am happy to call Bren a friend. He is kind, compassionate, understanding and caring. He is wonderful with students of all ages. I highly recommend him.
St. Peter School
Bren Bataclan worked with the students and the teachers of Green Meadow School in December 2017 thanks to a grant awarded by the Maynard Education Foundation. The goal of the grant was to create a mural based on the school’s core values: We are Kind, We are Safe, We are Learners. The enthusiasm and excitement of Bren ‘s presence was palpable when comments such as “Bren is exactly what our school needed “ and “What an amazing person!” could be heard in both classrooms and hallways. Our students were beyond excited to participate in the creation of the mural! Our school was so lucky to be receive Bren’s splash of colors, and I hope that he can return soon to brighten our walls and spirits even more.
Green Meadow Elementary School
Ligon Gifted & Talented Magnet Middle School in Raleigh, North Carolina had the great pleasure of hosting the very talents Bren Bataclan as artist in residence for one week in October 2016. The students, teachers and staff could not say enough about the wonderful experience of having Bren join our community. Bren’s workshops are highly interactive and empowering, even for students who do not consider themselves “artists.” He encourages the children to engage and share their work; he celebrates their creations. Bren held both large assemblies (with all of the 6th graders, and then with all of the 7th & 8th graders), as well as the smaller workshops with small groups of students from each cohort (6th, 7th and 8th grade). The students created artwork around our theme of “Ligon Community,” drawing more than 60 different pictures of everything from the state of North Carolina, to a playbill, to an iPad. Bren combined these drawings and created an amazing mural in our cafeteria. He arrived early each day and painted while the students moved all around him. The students loved interacting with him throughout the week, admiring his progress and enjoying the final, collaborative product. The mural is colorful, creative and truly expresses who we are at Ligon — a beautiful mix of diverse talents, interests and endeavors. We loved hosting Bren at Ligon and look forward to his return to Ligon next year!
Ligon PTA Board - Cultural Arts
Ligon Gifted & Talented Magnet Middle School
Our elementary school had the pleasure of hosting Bren for a week long mural residency and the experience was nothing short of amazing. He was always kind and engaging and had a way of making each person he interacted with feel truly special. During the two school assemblies he hosted he involved the entire school in art lessons that had everyone - adults included - drawing along and participating. He met with the graduating 5th grade class for an art workshop that resulted in the amazing characters he then incorporated into the mural located on a wall in the main hallway for all to enjoy every day. He was so fun to work and collaborate with throughout the entire process and the result is a beautifully unique and awesome representation of the schools most important values...Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Safe. During his time at our school we got to participate in art drops as well where he left his works for strangers to find as part of his Smile Campaign. It was such a special experience to accompany him in these random acts of kindness and even more special to see the joy each individual felt when they found his work. The week we hosted Bren was so fun and positive and truly fun for all involved. We are proud to be the first school on the West Coast to host him, but we for sure hope we aren't the last. We love spreading the word of Bren Bataclan and his Smile Campaign and are thrilled to have his beautiful work to enjoy for years to come.
Thank you Bren! It was a true pleasure!
Northeast Tacoma Elementary
Our school recently had the great honor to host Bren Bataclan for a week long residency. This year our school made social emotional learning a priority and the PTF wanted a way for those efforts to be represented through art. Bren's message and his style of art was the perfect solution! In partnership with the Massachusetts Cultural Council, we were able to bring Bren into our community for a week-long residency in which he worked with our entire student population to teach them about his Smile project and the creation of artwork and then he worked in-depth with the 5th graders to create characters that reflected their ideas about mindfulness. The students and teachers were completely taken with Bren's presentation. They were eager to share their characters with the community and they were excited to learn about all of the places where Bren has given away his paintings. The workshops with the 5th graders encouraged the students to collaborate with each other to create cohesive characters that reflected their learning. Students were engaged throughout the process and they were so excited to see their characters on the wall! Working with Bren was a pleasure and having him working in our school for the entire week was priceless. Students got to see all of the work that goes into creating a mural and they were able to interact with the artist throughout the process. Our mural will be treasured for years to come and our entire population was inspired to share the love and bring smiles to those near and far!
Blanchard Memorial School
We invited Bren Bataclan to do a keynote presentation to our middle school students and then engage in a Smile Project-like activity with our 1st grade classes. In preparation of his visit, we had our students watch the "Beanie and Bren Show" (www.beanieandbren.com), thinking they would just get warmed up with drawing. Well, once we showed the video, we had students requesting more and more and more! Very quickly, our students knew Beanie's line "Do not erase" as a way to express themselves. And, I overheard students -- 6-year olds -- telling each other that their drawings were "perfect just as they are." Our students created beautiful drawings and, led by Bren, left them all over the school. Not only did people smile all day, but the Smile Project inspired other students and faculty to leave notes all over school. Turns out, because of Beanie and Bren, even families were making drawings for each other! We are so grateful for Bren (and Beanie!) in supporting our Social Justice Week as we took action to make sure everyone felt like they belonged at Park School!
Liza A. Talusan
Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The Park School
Bren has a wonderful presence as a person and instructor. He communicates his ideas in a way that is accessible to everyone. He also incorporates storytelling within his approach, by telling students about the adventures and journeys his paintings have allowed him to take. This allows the students to better see the impact of the characters they create on others, especially when they become a collective mural.
Education Programs Team
The Center for Arts at the Armory
"Being in the program was really amazing! I discovered that I have a new love for painting and it was really relaxing. I had worked my imagination a lot more than I used to and saw that anything can be as much fun as a character. Mr. B was very fun and it was interesting to be his student. Thank you very much to Mr. Bren."
The Center for Arts at the Armory
I have two teachers, Katie & Shevawn, who work with us in the summer time, from the Hingham Public School System, who had seen Bren's presentation at their school. They know that we are always looking for entertainers for our Kindergarten through 6th grade age group, and they told me about his presentation at their school and how much all of the children loved it. I reached out to Bren - and he immediately contacted me back. After talking with him, based upon Katie's and Shevawn's strong, and excited recommendation, I was excited to bring him to our Summer Recreation Program.
Bren's positive message and calm demeanor got all the children (over 250 in his first presentation), listening. He told stories of his, and his paintings, travels - bringing in an element of culture. But most importantly, he made all the children realize that their pictures were fun and exciting! They all wanted to draw more, and see what they could create with Bren's support. Our theme for this summer was "Believe... In Yourself....In Each Other.... In Our Children". Bren helped enhance and bring that message to life with his belief in the children and helping them believe in themselves. Thank you Bren for your positive message and bringing a smile to all those you encounter.
Director of Recreation
Town of Kingston, MA
The Philippine Society of Boston College had the honor to have Bren Bataclan as our speaker to kick off our Filipino Heritage Month at Boston College. Bren spoke about what it means to be a Filipino American Artist and how his art is influenced by his childhood in the Philippines. His story was amazing because it inspired many young artists in the room who were afraid to pursue art. He taught us that no dream is impossible as long as we work towards it and never lose sight of it. After his presentation Bren did a drawing workshop. Bren’s genuine and enthusiastic personality taught us we all have our own artistic abilities. He inspired the creativity in each one us by providing us with some ideas that slowly let our imagination take charge. He allowed each one of us to showcase our drawings and his only rule was to never erase them because he truly believed that each drawing was a piece of artwork. Everyone who attended the workshop really appreciated his work. The workshop received a lot of positive feedback and there were many participants that would like Bren to visit Boston College again.
Co-President of The Philippine Society of Boston College
We are were fortunate to have Bren as a part of our school community for a week while he completed his mural. The entire staff was immediately impressed with his ability to engage 500+ students for an hour during his initial presentation and then carried it forward as he worked with the 5th grade on the characters for the mural. I was struck by his genuine enthusiasm as students shared their work and his investment in making the mural a collaborative experience. Every member of the staff and visitor had nothing but high praise for Bren's work as they passed by the mural while in progress. The finished product is a great addition to our school and a special memory for the students because they were a part of the process. I highly recommend inviting Bren to your school - it will be a unique chance to make a lifetime memory for your students.
East Elementary School
We have had the pleasure of enjoying Bren Bataclan's amazing work and message for the last four years at Palmer River Elementary School. It is an absolute treat every single year! Not only is Bren professional and incredibly inspiring, he embodies everything I am trying to covey to the kids in my art program. Looking around at how engaged and excited about art my students were brought tears to my eyes. Art is an essential component of education and of the human experience in general. Bren's message of creativity and joy extends way beyond mixing the correct shade of color or creating the perfect angle in a drawing. Bren helps to cultivate a sense of community and helps to build up our children's confidence. His "no mistakes" motto is one I am always trying to drive in to the kids. Art is such an explorative and expressive subject; Bren's positive attitude is perfect to help them feel comfortable in creating! Not only is it great for my students to see a professional artist who is working in the field, it is great for them to see such a positive role model. I would recommend Bren to any school or organization wholeheartedly!
Acacia Beaulieu, Art Teacher
Palmer River River Elementary School, Rehoboth, MA
Having read about Bren's Smile Project in the book, Bren Bataclan: Smile Artist, a very shy student of mine immediately connected to Bren's story and his work. She wanted to discuss how her parents were from the Phillipines as well. She also discussed how much she loved his work. This was a very exciting for me because my student rarely initiated a conversation with me or anyone in the school setting. I reached out to Bren to let him know how his story and work had affected one of my students. I simply asked if he could just respond to my email so I could show my student. Bren not only responded to my email but he also sent my me and my student paintings! Bren and I started corresponding and he informed me of his week long residencies. After pitching the idea to my PTA, they made this classroom connection a reality and Oaklyn Public School was the fortunate receipent of a week long residency which included three engaging presentations, a hands on and informative workshop and an amazingly beautiful mural. Bren's creativity, talent and infectious and kind personality resonated, not only with the students, but with the staff as well. Thank you Bren for bringing new life into our building!
Lori Davenpor, Special Education Teacher
Oaklyn Public Schools, Oaklyn, NJ
Author and Poet, Oscar Wilde wrote "Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life". Bren’s lovely murals have created a backdrop for our school community by bringing to life a world of mindful moments as depicted through characters and quotes. His paintings have captured our hopes for an ideal future and turned them into a palpable world that will fascinate and inspire generations to come.
Blanchard Principal Boxborough
If you'd like the chance to see hundreds of students and teachers excited and pretty much spellbound for an hour or so, get Bren to show you his presentation. Why aren't they wiggling and asking to go the bathroom during this time? You'll see! Why aren't they whispering and having all those "sidebar" conversations you have to shush? You'll see! Why are the teachers having as much fun as the students? Oh, you'll see!
Bren's presentation for our K-5 school was magical, hailed by some as the best they'd seen during their long tenures. And that was the reaction after just his first morning at school. The rest of the week gave us more of the same. In fact, as he worked on the mural he was commissioned to paint in our Kindergarten hallway, there were times when I couldn't imagine he'd get to finish by week's end because of the stream of children and adults alike who kept meandering through simply to get the chance to say hi or show him a drawing and chat for a few minutes. It seemed everyone wanted just a few minutes of his time. He is, indeed, that kind of guy.
By Friday, however, finish he did, and the results turned our rather uninspiring hallway into a garden of color, incorporating the children's (and teachers') drawings into his design for the letters of the alphabet and the numbers 1 through 10. It will welcome us to school for years to come and always remind us of his call to send out a "smile" to others as often as possible and to approach art with a "don't erase" attitude. Even a stray line you think you don't want in your drawing can become part of a wonderful result. That lesson alone is enough to put a smile on my face!
Kim Heelan, Teacher
Bancroft School, Andover, MA
Bren Bataclan recently visited our school as part of a week-long residency program. This visit was inspired by the interest one of our students took in his work, and the diligence and dedication of one of her teachers as well as the generosity of our PTA. Bren is not only an artist, but an educator. He has a unique ability to find students’ strengths and motivate them to incorporate these skills into their learning. Bren was patient and kind with the many students that wanted to speak with him as he was working to finish our mural, and ensured each one was heard. Bren’s message that you can do something you are passionate about while spreading a positive message was meaningful for our students. We cannot thank him enough for this experience.
Dr. Elizabeth Whitehouse
Child Study Team Supervisor
Oaklyn Public School
Oaklyn Public School was honored to host the brilliant artist, Bren Bataclan! The mural he created and left us with will put smiles on our faces for years to come. It was a pleasure working with such a talented, intelligent and caring person. The positive energy he brought to our district was amazing. It was extraordinary to see so many students and staff members inspired by his work. Bren’s residency brought our school community together and improved the overall culture of our district. What a fabulous experience! Thank you, Bren! Smiles from Oaklyn!
Ms. Jennifer Boulden
Oaklyn Public School
This June Ralph Wheelock School was able to host artist, Bren Bataclan due to the genreosity of a grant from our Medfield Coalition for Education. The entire project from beginning to end was outstanding. I highly recommend Bren as a mural artist. The students of our school were completely engaged in Bren's assemblies and were excited for the whole week he was with us. They would stop as they passed him working, and he was very kind to the boys and girls, answering their questions patiently. Our mural captured a Pilgrim event we hold each year in our community and the depiction our theme was creative and whimsical. This project encouraged our students to try new things and to consider their own artistic abilities. It was a terrific week and not only inspired the children, but the entire faculty, staff and community loved this wonderful experience! Thank you, Bren!
Ralph Wheelock School
Bren spent a week at Burr School and left us with a beautiful mural and many wonderful memories that will last for years to come! He has such an engaging and warm personality and adults and children alike loved spending time with him. His workshops taught us that each of us has artistic talents. His guidance and instruction allowed us all to experience success. As Bren worked on the mural, students stopped by and commented on his work and he drew them into conversation. The stairwell is now transformed with cheerful characters depicting our school core values. Bren was so flexible that he even added a few extra things to the mural on the last day he was with us. Thank you, Bren. I hope we get to work together again some time soon.
Bren Bataclan has visited our school twice in the last 5 years. Each time students and staff alike are completely engaged and captured by the purity of the message and the accessibility of the art. There is an intangible quality about Bren’s style and his approach that only those who have experienced it understand. I wholeheartedly recommend Bren to your school and encourage you to dream big about the possibilities of such a visit as Bren can deliver it.
Wealthy Elementary School
1961 Lake Drive
East Grand Rapids, MI
Recently, South Elementary School in Hingham was fortunate enough to have Bren Bataclan at our school for a week long residency. He presented to the entire school, gave a drawing workshop to my fifth grade students, and then completed a beautiful, colorful, and happy mural in our kindergarten hallway. Words cannot express how grateful I am for his residency here at South. Because of Bren Bataclan, my students have had an experience that they will never forget. He not only gave my students a beautiful mural to look at each day, but he also gave them the confidence to believe that each of them is an artist. He also taught my students about kindness, and how random acts of kindness can make the world a happier place. Bren was such a pleasure to work with, and I hope that he can work with my school again in the future. Thank you so much Bren!
Shevawn Rollins, Art Teacher
South Elementary School
We’d seen Bren Bataclan’s art at the Jackson School in Newton and around town in Brighton and Cambridge, so we knew the vibrancy of his work and that his fun style would be a great fit for our community. Bren quickly elicited from us the images and values most important to our community. We couldn’t believe how he rapidly incorporated the images into a tableau that is welcoming and draws people in, as much as it represents Bethany Hill. His artistry has transformed the room and our young residents proudly recognize their home in this mural. We love the mural and know it will become a tour highlight for visitors.
Bethany Hill School
Bren is not only an amazingly talented artist, he also has a true command of his audience! At each of his two visits to our school, Bren was easily able to engage our students as well as teach valuable skills. His presentations can be geared towards the age of the group and he excels at last minute requests. Easily one of the best presenters we have ever had.
Ben-Hem Elementary School Cultural Arts
Hello Bren... I just wanted to thank you for spending time with patients and families at the Jimmy Fund clinic. My boys (Evan, 4 (the patient) and Michael, 11) and I had a wonderful time with you, and learned a new game. Your work is fantastic, too, and will surely make the clinic a much brighter and happier place. Sincerely,
A comment from a mom during my week long mural residency at Dana Farber in Boston
To say that my school shared a smile with one another due to Bren's visit to my school is a huge understatement. Bren came into the school and immediately the students were drawn to him due to his friendliness, talent and humor. He made each student feel important by signing an autograph, accepting a drawing they may have done for him and even remembering some students names! Not only are smiles shared at our school each time we look at the mural, but we are strengthening our community. Students are talking to each other about the mural and are sharing this experience with their families, teachers and other staff members at our school. The staff responded very well to this vibrant energy and can't wait to have him back! I look forward to working with Bren again, not only for his artwork, but for the students to have the opportunity to react so positively to our community through art.
Elementary Art Teacher at the Bryantville Elementary School in Pembroke, MA
I am still in awe every time I walk through that stairwell! I could not have hoped for a better presentation of the students' ideas, representation of our town, and color! Today is Halloween and many parents are in the building today. It has been fun hearing their expressions when they see the mural for the first time. Even the students are still talking about your work.....It's hard to believe it was just this week! Thank you for the time and effort you put into working with us. You were a fantastic role model for the students and something they will remember for many years to come.
Principal, Vinal School
At the end of this school year my district, Rockland Public Schools, and I were fortunate enough to work with Bren Bataclan. No words can fully express the gratitude we have to him for his fantastic work here in our community. Bren brings a joyful energy, which brightens the lives of everyone he comes into contact with. He delighted not only the students and teachers here but also the surrounding community. Bren's presentations to our fourth grade students were dynamic & engaging and Bren had an impact on each and every student there. After Bren left, my students continued to draw his characters in their spare time and talk excitedly about Mr. Bataclan and their mural and his time here with them. The children were so inspired by Bren and thrilled to see their artwork incorporated into his murals. The three murals that Bren painted for our elementary schools in Rockland brought beauty and life to the spaces they occupy and I looked forward to enjoying them in the years to come, as well as the wonderful memories of Bren's residency here.
Elementary Art Teacher for the Rockland Public School
You visited my son's school yesterday (Oak Street Elementary School in Franklin, MA). He is in second grade and has autism, and is in a special classroom for kids with social/behavioral impairments. His teacher sent me a note home to tell me about your visit. My son is extremely sensory-sensitive and going to assemblies is a source of difficulty for him. He informed his teacher that he would only attend the assembly "for a few minutes" which they agreed was fine. However, he was absolutely thrilled to find out you are a cartoonist! That is what he wants to be when he grows up! He stayed the entire time. He even asked questions. And gave you a hug at the end. I wasn't there to witness it (and wish I could have been!) but reading the teacher's note made me teary-eyed. I can't thank you enough for sharing your talent with him (and all of his school mates) and for being so kind, patiently, and friendly with him. He drew lots of pictures that afternoon.
A parent from the Oak St. Elementary School in Franklin, MA
If you are interested in Bren Bataclan’s work, you can go to his web site and take a look but by doing only that, you would be missing out on a truly amazing experience. Bren brought his talents to the Gibbons School this past week. His talents include his art and his ability to interact with students, staff and parents. He has that unique ability to connect with students of all grade levels. Schools bring in many different presenters/performers that tend to appear to a certain grade level(s) with Bren, all students were engaged from kindergarten to grade 5! Each learned drawing techniques that they could immediately do on their own. Bren worked with the students so that they could see how art comes alive for him. He personalized his presentation by sharing his life as well as his art. He had such a positive message and influence! When students returned to their classroom, they made cards and pictures and hid them around the room for others to find. Notes and cards were found on teacher’s doors from students! Parents have stopped to say what an impact Bren’s visit had on their daughter/son. The mural he created fills the back wall of our cafeteria lighting up the room with bright characters that will be enjoyed for years to come! Bren’s mural and presence will be a positive memory that will stay with the students for a lifetime!
JH Gibbons School Principal
Words can not truly express the wondrous effect Bren’s presence had on our students. He was at Lilja for one week while working on a mural project and as one teacher commented “he instantly became part of the community. The respect and kindness he showed each student was exceptional. After interacting with Bren, every student walked away believing they could be artists too. Children, who may never have thought to paint or draw outside of art class, were feverishly producing works of art. Bren is not only a talented artist but he is wonderful presenter and an inspiration to all. We have received more compliments from teachers, parents and students for bringing Bren’s program to our school than any other program.
Cultural Art Committee Chair
Lilja School, Natick
I feel extremely fortunate to have had the chance to bring Bren to the Luther Conant School in Acton. With PTO funding, grant money and the hard work of our art teacher Melissa Hayes through donorschoose.org we were able to bring Bren in for a drawing workshop and the creation of a mural celebrating our school's diversity and incredible community spirit. Bren is a dynamic speaker who involved the children in every aspect of creating our mural. While painting the mural, he engaged all students who walked by and always had time to make children and adults feel that he truly appreciated their comments and time talking with him. Bren is a true treasure!
Damian J. Sugrue
Luther Conant School
Bren Bataclan has a true gift of working with children through his artist ability. He worked at the Jefferson Elementary School in Rockland, MA for a few days and transformed student work into a masterpiece. Students were able to watch, as their work became a permanent mural in the school. Although an artist by trade, Mr. Bataclan is also a gifted educator. His message of happiness has impacted the children at Jefferson forever.
Mrs. Christine Pruitt
Jefferson Elementary School
If I could ask for an artist to place his mark on every school, that would be Bren Bataclan. His presentation is student-centered, his artwork portrays multiculturalism and inclusivity. Bren understands diversity and how to incorporate its real definition to the school system. Bren was also able to communicate and work with us easily form the start regarding his vision and our vision as a school. He goes above and beyond what is expected of an artist. He converses with students and staff about his art process and how it can affect change. He is a very sincere, generous and kind artist that we (I) would always want to be a part of our school!
Randolph High School
We were so fortunate to have Bren at our school for a two week artist in residency program. The residency culminated with a beautiful mural above and beyond our wildest dreams. He turned a boring hallway in our specialist wing into a colorful and vibrant work of art. Bren designed a mural with about 100 characters drawn by students based on art, music and PE. Not only was Bren a great artist, but he was also a great teacher and friend. Bren taught the students to be proud of their work and show that they too could draw like an artist. Bren connected with the students in a way I’ve never seen a visiting artist do before. The students could not get enough of Bren and were devastated when I told them he was no longer working at our school. Students absorbed so much from Bren including ways to draw special characters and the importance of giving for the sake of being a good person. We were privileged to have Bren at our school and can’t wait to have him come back in the future.
Jefferson Elementary School
A Massachusetts Cultural Council STARS grant provided the funding to support a fantastic Artist-in-Residence program here at our school featuring Bren Bataclan. Bren worked with our 5th graders to create an alphabet mural and books that showcased their cooperative spirit, artistic talent, and amazing creativity! Our art teacher along with the 5th grade teachers coordinated the project. Bren captured everyone’s hearts with his ever-present smile and positive attitude. The completed mural and books will provide everyone in our school community with a lasting memory of Bren, a true STAR!
Margaret E. Donohoe, Principal
Fannie E. Proctor School
Bren came to the Burrell School on the Monday of our first full week back in September. He did grade level assemblies blending art with a theme of respect. Additionally, he created an amazing mural in our library that incorporated our core values. Bren connected with our staff and students making everyone feel special. It was such a great way to kick off our new school year!
Michele McCarthy, Principal
It was apparent from our first meeting with Bren that he was a perfect fit for the Cottage School. He presented himself as an enthusiastic and knowledgeable artist that was both comfortable and experienced in working with large group of students. Bren was able to work with our entire school population. Every child felt as if their sketches mattered and that they had input into the larger school mural. The children were so inspired by Bren's art that they have continued drawing at home and school since his visit. As Bren painted the mural, the students visited and talked with him about his art. They were so excited to see their artwork incorporated into the school mural. I was impressed to see how quickly Bren knew the names of the students and was able to form a bond with them. The students, staff and parents at Cottage loved working with Bren and the mural he made for the school. He would be a welcome visitor to any school.
Cottage Street School
Your visit and the mural exceeded ALL my wildest expectations, and it really was because of YOU. You worked so hard during the week, (especially that long day yesterday!). The children were drawn to you and your kind sweet disposition, and you were so supportive of them and their art. I was amazed by how many teachers and parents told me that their children talked about you all week long. The principal told me that she never remembers anything over the years (we've taught together over 30 years) that made such an incredible impact on so many students. I'm so glad that you were able to stay for the unveiling after school and meet so many of the parents and students. You were so generous to draw and draw and draw for all of those kids (who will treasure your drawings, I am sure).
Westminster Elementary School
Everyone at the Fiske School thoroughly enjoyed the time we shared with Bren! He was a delight to work with during the planning and scheduling process and his workshops for the students were age-appropriate, engaging, informative and tons of fun! Adults and kids alike left with some adorable illustrations and continued to work on our fun characters at home. Thanks for the inspirations!
Jo McChesney and Pam Martin
Creative arts Co-Chairs
Fiske elementary school in Wellesley
We truly enjoyed your visit to our school. Our teachers were impressed with your presentation and the children had a wonderful time learning the many places your artwork has been shared and of course learning to draw!
Cheryl Piccirelli, Principal
Jaworek Elementary School
As I mentioned earlier this evening, my son, Owen, really enjoyed your visit to Bryantville Elementary last week. He has always enjoyed drawing and has often mentioned he wants to be an artist when he grows up. He was also very excited to tell me that you are Filipino, like he is:). We moved to Pembroke about 2 yrs ago, not an ethnically diverse area at all. Owen's dad is white and I am Filipina. We've always taught our children to accept everyone for who they are, to be curious of others in a respectful manner of course. He's in 1st grade so kids are becoming more aware of the ethnic differences of each other, and more specifically, of our family. I'm very happy that he is proud of both his parents' heritage and culture, and I'm thrilled to hear that you started your presentation by identifying yourself as Filipino and asking if any of kids were Filipino also. May seem like a simple, natural thing for you to do, but it means a lot to me, and Owen's face lit up when he told me that! Thank you again for sharing your talent and inspiring my son! All the best to you and all you do.
I first met Bren Bataclan through a network of Filipino artists and writers in the Boston area, and I closely followed his work (which is easy when it is on display all over Boston!). However, as the Director of Intercultural Affairs at a college, I knew I wanted Bren to come in and share his expertise, experience, and desire for a more compassionate world with the students. Bren’s Smile Project embodies what we hope our students are learning each day – that acts of kindness can be empowering, both for the giver and receiver. While Bren’s artistic paintings speak for themselves, I am most grateful for Bren’s ability to facilitate a dialogue in a diverse group of people. And, he does this by making every participant feel that they belong there. He addresses individuals by name (even in big groups!) and encourages them in their own art work. Because of my very positive interactions with Bren – and the impact he has on the students – my diversity office recently commissioned a custom painting. I am thankful to have worked with Bren, and thankful that he practices what he preaches: that one smile can make change.
Liza A. Talusan
Director of Intercultural Affairs
Boston University's I Embrace You event (The Positive Power of Art with Bren Bataclan) reminded me how incredibly important and powerful positivity & empowerment are for humankind-- not just within individuals but within social groups. Learning about Bren's selfless work revitalized my own passion for generosity and optimism; seeing the participant's own creations was inspiring to the point where our work could be in the art gallery on campus; and cleaning the paint off the brushes humbled me with a love for self-expression and autonomy. Many thanks to those who attended, my IEY family, and most of all Bren for leading such an awesome event!
IEY President and Vice President
Bren has collaborated with Boston Children’s Museum on several occasions. His artwork has been shown in the Gallery and he has participated in workshops and “meet the artist” events. His paintings are universally loved by our audience, old and young alike. Children immediately relate to his whimsical characters and grown-ups can’t help but smile at these charming works. Most recently, Bren contributed to an exhibit of alphabet themed windows adding “B is for Bahay Kubo” (a style of traditional Filipino home), which also offered an opportunity to share his Filipino culture with our visitors. We knew it was the perfect fit for the project when, shortly after it was installed, students on a group visit started asking, “Is that Bren’s?” Having kids recognize the artist’s work is the greatest affirmation of all!
Asia Program Associate
Boston Children's Museum
Students and staff thoroughly enjoyed your presentation on Friday. One third grader said to me on Friday, "You know Mrs. Newman, that guy really makes me want to draw!" It was a memorable assembly for everyone.
After 26 years of teaching it is heartwarming to see how TOUCHED and AFFECTED the children have been by your visit. I have always believed that you can't fool children. They know and feel which adults really care and enjoy being around them. You have "connected" with our students and it shows so meaningfully. If you could hear the remarks of the children as they descend the stairway and spot your unique mural. You have brought such JOY to our school - something I haven't seen from a visitor in a long time. As I remarked to Mrs. Lamsa, "You have left a permanent imprint of your time and work for our whole community to enjoy!"
Westminster Elementary School
Our students greatly enjoyed the presentation and seeing the positive difference that can be made for others while doing something that you enjoy. It was an excellent culmination to our year long "bucket filling" program and tied in the the positive behaviors theme. It was also very empowering for all of our students to participate and share their drawings. Thank you again for sharing your talent with us.
Pine Glen Elementary
We found Bren's visit to Boyden School to be absolutely wonderful. My goal in inviting Bren was to provide our students with a positive message about how one person can make a difference. Originally, we scheduled Bren to visit for grade-level assemblies and did not plan for him to do a mural. Well, after the assemblies were over, we found Bren's impact on our students to be far-reaching. The children started making his little creatures and spreading his message of making someone else feel better in their homes, neighborhoods and school. As a result of the students being so invested in Bren's message, we decided to invite him back to paint a mural in our computer lab. Each student in the school created a piece of artwork and Bren incorporated their designs into the actual mural. We love the look of our "new" computer lab! Bren has a tremendous ability to connect with others and I am confident your school will find the results to be equally rewarding.
Mike Stanton, Principal
1852 Washington Street
Our vision was brought to life from the wonderful mural Bren meticulously painted. Bren is the ultimate and most complete professional that I have had a chance to work with. From the initial consultation for the mural that we wanted in our pediatric dental office, Bren was extremely cordial and graciously accepted animating our space. It was absolute honor to have someone from our very own community create such a vivid design which has brought many cheerful smiles from the children who has visited this office. We have had an incredible amount of compliments on the mural. Bren’s magnificent work has left a lasting impression at our office.
Dental Services, P.C.
Last week, the Hardy School community was visited by artist Bren Bataclan. As he presented his Smile Project, students and faculty were engaged and enthralled by his positive messages, fun characters, and vibrant artwork. As Bren guided the students in drawing creations of their own, his generous pay-it-forward attitude, along with his feeling that there are "no mistakes" were a big hit. The students were proud of their drawings, and learned so much that day - a wonderful assembly! Thank you, Bren!
Creative Arts and Sciences
Hardy Elementary School
We were fortunate to have Bren come to Fisher School as a gift from our fifth grade parents and our PAC. Students identified instantly with his brightly colored characters and simple positive message of spreading smiles by “paying it forward.” Our fifth graders confidently drew their fish for our mural and eagerly waited for Bren to transform our front foyer into a colorful aquarium. During the week, Bren talked with each student who commented and posed questions. In his short time with us, our students connected with him and on his last day as he “unveiled” the mural, students gathered around him like a “rock star”. Bren Bataclan was our smiling art “rock star” this spring. Thank you, Bren; we are still smiling at Fisher.
Principal, Fisher School
Thank you for doing such a fabulous job at Loker School with the kindergarten students. Your warm and nurturing appraoch with the students helped foster a climate of stuent creativity and engagement. Their drawings were phenomenal in large part because of your leadership and the new mural in our cafeteria is amazing! All of the staff and students at Loker School want to express our gratitude for the work you did with our school community.
Loker School Principal
Thank you so much for visiting the Upham Elementary School in Wellesley this week. Your positive message of giving away your artwork to spread happiness and kindness was an inspiration to all. As you could tell, the students absolutely loved learning how to draw your characters and then sharing their own artwork with the group up on the "big screen"! Captivating an audience of kindergarteners through fifth graders can be challenging, but you were able to engage them all and connect with them all. I particularly loved how the students lined up to get your autograph at the end of your presentation!
Creative Arts and Sciences Co-Chair
Upham Elementary School
This week, I finally got to have a visiting artist to the school. I have been trying to raise funds for three years and thought it would never happen. But I finally got Bren to come to my school after working with him initially at my part time school (1/2 day a week). Bren is an energetic, child orientated, enthusiast. We had a great week and the students bonded with his dynamic love of art . All the students were able to draw a part of this healthy exercise and food mural. The students in small groups, were given characters to draw with each student assigned to draw an individual component. Bren took the group renditions and painted his happy versions, onto our school cafeteria wall. All 403 students, proudly identify with and feel a part of this beautiful linear mural. Today we were asked to attend a short assembly to thank Bren for all his artistic work. At the assembly , my principal David Barner, thanked the Fine Arts Department and the Dawe School P.T.O. for funding the project. He then said he wanted to thank someone else for making it all happen. He said to the students, I am walking towards her and they all shouted" Mrs. Reiche". I stopped myself at two, maybe three tears as they unveiled the mural dedication in my honor. I will miss all my colleagues, friends and the students whose cheering and clapping had me holding back tears, as I prepare to retire in June.
Joseph R. Dawe Jr. Elementary School
You have been the most POSITIVE INFLUENCE on the Dawe School that I have seen in years!
Joseph R. Dawe Jr. Elementary School
Everyone at Bennett-Hemenway Elementary School was enamored with Bren during his week-long artist-in-resident workshop at our school. In addition to his presentation and work with our fourth-grade students to create a mural based on their ideas centered on the theme of 'Caring', he had individual classes come and sit with him as he painted. These one-on-one discussions were a hit with the students and faculty. During his visit at Ben-Hem, Bren was embraced by the children, faculty and parents. He is an amazing role model and we are so fortunate to have a permanent piece of his artwork adorning the wall of our fourth-grade wing.
Mary Crotty Peace
Cultural Arts Committee
Bennett-Hemenway Elementary School, Natick
Bren has been presenting to the children of Harvard’s 25th Reunion for the past two years and they love him! Not only are his work and his philosophy on life amazing and uplifting, he is an exciting and entertaining presenter! Bren is an integral part of Harvard’s 25th Reunion Children’s Program roster of events and we look forward to working with him for years to come.
Children’s Program Coordinator
College Alumni Programs Office
Annie Sullivan Middle School was very privileged to have a presentation by Bren Bataclan. He connected with art club members immediately and inspired all of us to draw cartoons and "put a smile on someone's face everyday! He hid a print of one of his cartoons in the library for someone to find. Well, someone found it and she was very happy. One of my students gave me a framed drawing of one of her cartoons inspired by Bren for Christmas. I hung it on my tree during the holiday and now it is in my classroom. Thank you Bren for your kindness and inspiration!
Annie Sullivan Middle School
The Boyden School enjoyed a wonderful day with Bren, learning not only about his artwork but also about how one person's actions, can spread happiness throughout the world. Bren's genuine interest and enthusiasm for working with children was felt by teachers and students alike. All grade levels were actively engaged in the presentation and drawing demonstration. I am sure that Bren's characters were shared at dinner tables all over Walpole that evening and that his message of joy will be felt throughout our school for days to come. Thank you Bren!
Cultural Arts Committee Representative
Boyden Elementary School
Hi Bren, I want to thank you for such a wonderful presentation yesterday. I've been at Franklin for almost 18 years and we've had many presenters. By far, you were the most engaging and I can tell that the students truly enjoyed having you here. Your love for what you do is very clear and your enthusiasm for sharing your work is contagious. I am so looking forward to seeing the creation of the mural.
Physical Education Health and Wellness
Franklin Elementary School
Having been part of the Natick Cultural Arts Committee for 18 years, I have experienced many amazing and inspiring enrichment programs in the Natick schools. After a program we often receive verbal thanks from the staff or parents, and sometimes a handwritten or drawn thank you from a class. In 2005, Bren’s visit to the Natick High art class left such an impression that the class created their own “Bren-inspired” characters riding on a school bus and then presented vibrantly colored paintings to Bren and our committee as a thank you. Bren’s message of generosity and joy in art had definitely hit its mark with the students.
Former Natick Cultural Arts Committee Chair
My two elementary schools (k-5) have had the privilege and honor of having Bren Bataclan visit and it was a memorable experience for everyone! Bren began with a Powerpoint presentation about his artwork and how he began his career as an artist. His drawing demonstration captivated the the audience and the students absolutely loved being able to draw along with Bren who gave encouragement to the young artists. Bren has the unique ability to connect with the students and they were truly engaged throughout his entire visit. It is not an easy task to keep the attention of hundreds of students but Bren made it look easy. He has a great rapport with the students and staff and we were sad to see him go. Months later, the students still talk about Bren Bataclan, "the real artist" who visited our school and they all want him to come back next year!
art specialist k-5
Hansen Elementary School
South Elementary School
Everyone enjoyed the presentation very much. My principal just sent out an email thanking me for bringing you to our school. I so enjoyed looking at the faces of the students in the crowd and seeing them smile. One of the teachers said how nice it was to have an art presentation that was fun and got the children involved. My students have been bringing in their own pictures that they have drawn to mimic your characters. They are very excited. I have spoken to students in other grades and they are doing the same. Art is a subject that is not always given enough attention in schools and students sometimes feel apprehensive about their talents, you have opened their minds and given these kids a technique that will prove successful to all.
Dennett Elementary School
Bren's talk empowered our students and showed them that you can follow your dream. It was an inspiration for myself as well as the faculty and students attending. He showed students how to engage with artwork while making it fun and approachable.
Steven Pirrello, Curator
Harbor Art Gallery, UMass Boston
I would recommend having artist Bren Bataclan work with students and teachers in your school. Bren came to Alaska in the spring, when 5 miles of roadway was being rerouted. We were able to coordinate his visit with the Department of Transportation foreman so that Bren could ride through the construction zone. He then had to complete a short hike back to the road. Needless to say, Bren is a trooper and very flexible! Once he arrived at our national recognized Blue Ribbon school, Bren provided general art information, demonstrations, and guided art instruction. During his short time here, Bren made bonds with several students. They have exchanged letters and artwork. Now one year later, we still have teachers and students talking about his visit and drawing pictures in his unique style.
David Kingsland, Principal
Seward Elementary School
Bren has brightened the hallways and schoolyards of several of the schools I have worked at over the years. While his art work certainly brightens the atmosphere, it is Bren's personality and love of art that is the true gift from working with him on these projects. The kids light up when Bren works with them in the classroom and they are so enthusiastic when they work with him on the murals around the school. His incorporates their ideas, their art work and their spirit in his murals. Both the Trotter and Washington School were lucky to work with Bren on a number of mural projects.
Matthew C. Stahl, Principal
Pawtucketville Memorial Elementary School
425 West Meadow Road
Lowell, MA 01854
Bren’s presentation well portrayed the wide scope of his work and encouraging message behind his art. The hands-on portion of his workshop was entirely engaging for all of the children, students, and parents involved.
Tufts University Filipino Cultural Society (FCS)
Community Service Chair
We loved having Bren at Jackson to complete the Massachusetts wall mural with the third graders. After watching a DVD about the Smile project, students worked with Bren to create their own images for the mural. Then Bren designed the mural incorporating every student’s illustration. Students absolutely loved watching their ideas come to life as Bren shared each step of the mural project with them. We had a big celebration when the painting was complete. It was definitely one of the high points of our school year.
Jackson Elementary School
"For the past few years, Newton North's Asian Culture Club has been incredibly fortunate to have had Bren come and visit our school for our annual Asian Culture Day. Each time, Bren has brought a fresh, engaging, and exciting presentation, using a combination of his personal stories and multimedia. I know that our students--and staff members-- are always eager to have him visit, and that they get a lot out of what he has to share."
Michele Leong, English Teacher
Newton North High School
Bren Bataclan’s lecture series in the Whitman Hanson Regional School District was absolutely wonderful! He was engaging, informative and entertaining when speaking to both high school students and fourth grade students. My high school students were extremely interested in his insights about the business end of making it as an artist, as well as his artwork. Students, young and old, loved watching him draw and having the chance to create characters along with him. It is refreshing to learn about a street artist with such a positive message and legal approach. The whimsical nature of his work captivated and inspired students of all ages.
Lead Art Teach
Whitman Hanson Regional School District
From the moment Bren Bataclan walked into our school to work with our art club and visual art electives we wanted to keep him forever. His ability to immediately capture the audience with his amazing story shared through video, lecture and interactive drawing sessions was life changing for all in attendance. We couldn’t stop smiling and wanted more. We commissioned a unique three panel canvas incorporating Bren’s redesign of the characters drawn from the sessions with our art students. Our school couldn’t keep Bren forever but we do have a truly remarkable and stunningly keepsake which makes us smile every day.
Hunter Elementary PTA President 2009-2010
Bren provided a great source of inspiration for us with his presentation, showing us what you can accomplish when you choose to persevere and follow your dreams.
Tufts University Filipino Cultural Society (FCS)
Bren Bataclan presented his Smile Project to my 5th grade art classes, much to their delight. They were completely engaged during his hands on demonstration, after his demonstration, and are still excited by his work a year later! Bataclan has become a local celebrity within our school community.
Morse Art Teacher
I have had the great pleasure of exhibiting Bren Bataclan's colorful, cheerful paintings at our Bacon Free Library in South Natick, MA. I also witnessed one of his workshops with children at the Memorial School a year ago and, again, a year later at the Bacon Free Library. Bren had the children in the palm of his hand. All ages responded positively to his charismatic personality. He is a gifted artist and a gifted teacher.
Bacon Free Library. Natick, MA
"Bren visited the Duval School in Whitman and it was excellent! He had both students and staff hooked from the start. The part I enjoyed the most was when all the students and teachers had the opportunity to draw his characters. It made the presentation more interactive and I feel it boosted the artistic confidence in everyone!"
Duvall Elementary School. Whitman, MA
Finally! I was able to bring Bren to our school and show everyone first-hand the artist who so inspired me! Bren's visit to our school in December was engaging and fun. Students, faculty and parents enjoyed hearing his story and being part of a drawing workshop. For weeks after, lively cartoon characters were doodled on holiday cards and valentines. His visit even inspired a group "cartoon bombing" project to brighten up the sometimes dark and cold winter days in Maine. All around campus, smiles abound! Thank you, Bren!
North Yarmouth Academy. Yaromuth, ME
The mural is more than any of us imagined or could have hoped for and will be a major part of our school and this group of students.
Hopkinton Middle School
It was a pleasure to have you at Keller. YOU and your work showed love, imagination, excitement, kindness, motivation, acceptance, respect, patience, collaboration, inquiry, passion, time, devotion, energy, (that's 15--Bren's favorite number), and much, much more to all students and staff here at Keller.
Daniel M. Atwell
Helen Keller Elementary
Thanks for a wonderful day of presentations. I have received nothing but positive feedback from many parents. The kids all came home excited about your drawings and the idea of giving away something for a smile. You have left a very positive impression on the kids in Stow.
The Center School, Stow, MA
Thank you for brightening up our common area! Your visit last week will definitely be a highlight of the school year : )
Julie A. Vincentsen
Helen Keller Elementary School
I was so fortunate to have Bren come to Trottier Middle School and give a talk to our students! He shares his passion, joy, and giving nature with everyone. We were then inspired to create our own painting to leave somewhere or give away. Our first student to finish left her painting at the Vernon Medical Center in Worcester. We have students preparing to leave them in different states, parks, hospitals, and I've even had our message translated into Spanish for a few students leaving them outside the country - just to name a few of the places. The students really enjoyed having Bren visit and they are truly working hard to create a painting they are proud to give away! Thanks Bren for the inspiration!
Trottier Middle School
The kids loved your message and your artwork.
Hanlon Elementary School
It was a pleasure to meet you and watch your presentation. The students and staff members thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Deerfield Elementary School
72 Deerfield Avenue
Westwood, MA 02090