Jacob’s Ladder Learning Center students raise funds with creations

Published 7:55 pm Monday, December 4, 2017

Following a successful trip to the Holly Days Arts and Craft Show over the weekend, the Jacob’s Ladder Learning Center students were inundated with special orders for their pottery.

Student Phillip Scales had been specifically requested to paint an egg tray in LSU colors, another student lent his talents to a gingerbread man tray while more painted bowls, ornaments and angels, which have become a hot item at the center.

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The 17 students at Jacob’s Ladder, a nonprofit school that serves those with intellectual disabilities, paint pottery three days a week and then sell it to raise funds for the center.

“I love painting so much and it is my favorite things to do, the new colors, LSU colors and Ole Miss colors,” Scales said.

The pottery program started in January after a visit to The Mustard Seed, a live-in center for those with intellectual disabilities in Brandon.

“Almost two years ago, we took a trip to The Mustard Seed,” Jacob’s Ladder director Rebecca Busby said. “I don’t have a background in Special Ed so I wanted to go talk to somebody at The Mustard Seed to get a better feel and see if we are heading in the right direction. It turned into a big field trip. We ended up with board members, parents and all the students going.”

While there, they were introduced to The Mustard Seed’s pottery program and jumped at the idea to bring a similar program to Vicksburg at Jacob’s Ladder.

“We formed a small committee and one of the committee members found a lady from Hazlehurst that had a kiln and molds for sale,” Busby said. “We contacted her and were more than willing to pay the price she was asking because the kilns themselves run at least $3,000 and she was asking $1,500 for a kiln and more than 200 molds and a pouring table. When the committee told her what it was for, she donated everything.”

The program has grown constantly since January when the students started off by painting simple bowls, cups and plates. Now they work on large crosses, platters, angels, Christmas ornaments and more.

“We had done arts and craft, but nothing on this scale,” Busby said. “They have grown a lot. They have learned the technique like you need two coats and we need to have full coverage and putting designs on, we use stencils. They’ve learned a lot.”

Busby said the ceramic program has worked to increase the visibility of the center throughout the community as they attend events such as Holly Days and the Old Courthouse Museum Flea Market to sell their creations.

“We have more people coming to the school,” Busby said. “We have more people wanting to volunteer. It has been a wonderful thing for the school and the students.”

The biggest benefit throughout the first year of the program has been the improvements in the student’s motor skills and self-confidence, Busby said.

“Pride, self-confidence, when we were at the event Saturday half our special orders also requested a certain student paint them,” Busby said. “Or people who came and bought them said ‘I want this student’s stuff or I want that student’s stuff.’ When the students hear that they take a lot of pride and it builds their self-confidence.”

The center now opens a store every Wednesday for people to come and shop and also takes special orders for pieces to be painted in certain color schemes.