Renowned Artist Jeff Koons Visits NYC Classroom to Introduce New Literacy Game

In a well-lit classroom in midtown Manhattan, Scarlett, a first grader, interacted with her classmates by picking up a playing card and confidently stating, “It’s my turn!”.

Revealing the card’s content, Scarlett vocalized, “When,” confidently spelling out each letter. She expressed her desire to continue the activity.

Acknowledging Scarlett’s effort, Madison Schwab, her first-grade co-teacher, praised her accomplishment.

Encouraged by her previous success, Scarlett attempted another word, “Fret. F-R-E-T,” she enunciated meticulously and proudly.

Engaged in a new literacy game called Popped!, Scarlett and her Success Academy peers, arranged in small groups, enthusiastically participated.

At an adjacent table, a group of students engaged in conversation with Jeff Koons, a renowned artist and one of the game’s creators, known for his iconic Balloon Dog sculpture marking its 30th anniversary.

In an exclusive interview with The 74, Koons candidly expressed his views on the challenges in education. He emphasized the importance of the science of reading and endorsed Popped! as a valuable tool.

Popped! was developed in partnership with Clever Noodle, a company dedicated to enhancing literacy through interactive games. Founded by Jacquelyn Davis during the pandemic, Clever Noodle emerged from her son’s struggle with reading.

Drawing from her experience as an educator and school leader, Davis designed games based on phonics instruction to support her son and other students in need.

Emphasizing fun in the learning process, Davis expressed gratitude for Koons’ collaboration and his dedication to their mission.

Witnessing the enthusiasm among students for Popped!, Tanisha, aged 7, shared her enjoyment of the game and her love for reading, particularly books like The Fly Guy and Elephant Piggy series.

Excited to interact with Koons, Tanisha brought the game to the gathering where they honored Balloon Dog’s anniversary with artwork and heartfelt expressions.

Appreciating the students’ creativity, Koons commended their work as he highlighted the artistic potential within each of them.

Released amidst a national literacy crisis, Popped! aligns with evidence-based literacy instruction practices adopted by Success Academy over the years.

Koons and Davis are optimistic about transforming learning experiences for students beyond Success Academy through the engaging nature of the game.

Reflecting on his personal challenges with reading due to a mild astigmatism, Koons acknowledged the profound impact reading now has on his creative process.

Known for his iconic sculptures, including Rabbit and Balloon Dog, Koons set an auction record with the sale of his Rabbit sculpture in 2019.

Davis shared Koons’ aspiration to create inclusive art that resonates with viewers and fosters self-discovery.

Highlighting the accessibility and transformative power of reading, Davis praised Koons’ advocacy for making education and art accessible to all individuals.

As the event concluded, Davis announced that each student would receive their own Popped! game to enjoy at home, encouraging continued learning and engagement.

“Stay smart and return to school ready after the summer break,” Davis wished the students.

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