In 1985, Bonnie Steele began Meet the Masters as a volunteer project for her daughter’s sixth grade class at Del Lago School in Mission Viejo, CA. Art education was suffering cut-backs, and Steele’s intense interest in art, along with her background as a credentialed teacher and exhibited artist, sparked the idea for Meet the Masters. While teaching her program Steele discovered that sixth grade was sometimes too late to reach children. By the age of 12 some students had already decided they either had creative talent or didn’t. She began to see the need to begin the program at an earlier age.
The program’s popularity spread quickly, and today Meet the Masters employs over 45 teachers. The program continues to grow with the help of thousands of volunteers, who also feel art is important for their children, thus donating their time to teach and learn right along with the students. Though its roots are in California, MTM has spread to every region of the U.S. and internationally.
“Mankind’s most enduring achievement is art. At its best, it reveals the nobility that coexists in human nature along with flaws and evils, and the beauty and truth it can perceive. Whether in music or architecture, literature, painting or sculpture, art opens our eyes and ears and feelings to something beyond ourselves, something we cannot experience without the artist’s vision and the genius of his craft.” — Barbara Tuchman, Pulitzer Prize winning historian'" (Meet the Masters, 2012).