"Palm Avenue Rocks" with PowerUP Jax grant!


It's an honor to celebrate our local teachers and reward innovation through PowerUP Jax. This week, we share another artistic vision that's coming to life thanks to lead sponsor, Community First Credit Union funding 20 $500 innovation grants. Kelly DeSousa, an art teacher at Palm Avenue Exceptional Student Center shares why "Palm Avenue Rocks!" Kelly was one of the PowerUP Jax fall award winners that received a $500 innovation grant. - Ale'ta Turner


Our school is thrilled to have received a PowerUP Jax grant! I’m an art teacher for students with exceptional needs with a background in art therapy and I’m excited to share the many benefits and positive impact this grant will have.  

Our Project

"Palm Avenue Rocks!" is a collaborative art project, reaching all students and faculty at Palm Avenue Exceptional Student Center. Each student will contribute a personalized rock to a school-wide rock sculpture garden.  The rock garden will take the form of a stream that will “flow” throughout the campus to unify and enrich the environment.  

All students attending Palm Avenue Exceptional Student Center have a variety of learning exceptionalities. “Palm Avenue Rocks!” focuses on student abilities, empowering students through a strength-based curriculum. This art project has a built-in element of success at any skill level and the final product showcases the beauty of our diverse population.

“Palm Avenue Rocks!” fosters self-expression by allowing students to incorporate their own unique color choices, images, and style into a collaborative work of art.  Students are provided with an opportunity to contribute to their community in a meaningful way through participation in a public art project.  

A Work in Progress

During the week of January 10, my students enjoyed exploring the sensory-soothing qualities of the rocks, as we observed the visual and physical properties of natural stones of varying sizes, shapes, colors, and textures. There is a calming, grounding effect of holding an object from nature in your hands. This project lends itself to helping students learn self-regulation skills while they work with the stones in a creative way.

As the students finish their individual pieces, we have group discussions about the process of creating the artwork and about the finished products.  When the stones are placed together to form a larger, collaborative work, students are able to see and discuss how each person’s contribution adds something special to the whole.


Thank you!

It’s a joy to see the arts impacting our students and our community in so many ways and I’m thankful to the Jacksonville Public Education Fund and Community First Credit Union for supporting Duval County school teachers and recognizing the importance of art in public education.

Apply for a $500 PowerUP Jax innovation grant today! The deadline for spring applications is January 22.



Kelly DeSousa 

Palm Avenue Exceptional Student Center




of public schools in Duval County earned an "A," "B," or "C" in 2021-2022.