As students prepare to head back to class, so do teachers and part of that preparation may include planning creative ways to integrate the arts into their classroom.
The Center, striving to make the arts accessible for all generations, works to make that process easier by providing professional development opportunities throughout the year as part of their Classroom Connections teacher workshops.
The Center and Appleton Area School District are members of the Partners in Education program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington D.C. Selected because of their demonstrated commitment to improvement of education in and through the arts, the partnership team collaborations to make the arts integral to education.
Classroom Connections teacher workshops are designed to provide professional development in the arts for teachers based on the belief that their continued learning is an essential component of any effort to increase the artistic literacy of young people.
Renee Ulman, fine arts coordinator for the Appleton Area School District works to support art, music, theater and dance education in Appleton schools by leading curriculum work, advocating for strong arts education for all students and researching ways to bring the arts to the classroom, including providing teachers with meaningful professional development.
“Our mission in AASD is “Every Child, Every Day” and the arts are an essential part of meeting the needs of all of our students and offering them a well-rounded education,” Ulman said. “This partnership is important because we get to work together on offering quality professional development opportunities for teachers in the Fox Cities. It shows teachers that what they do for our students is valued and supported by those in the community. We want to work together to provide all students the best education they can receive. We believe that one way this can be achieved is through arts integration. Our partnership helps teachers learn about and implement these practices in their classrooms.”
The program began in 2012 and each year Ulman and the education team at the Center (including director of programming and community engagement Amy Gosz and education coordinator Cassie Schroeder) sit down to chat about trends happening in the district and arts integration workshops that are available through the Kennedy Center Partners in Education program. They select workshops that appeal to a variety of art forms, core curriculum topics and teaching grade levels. From this they are able to provide unique arts integration development opportunities that are available to any educator or person who works with youth.
“Arts-integrated lessons are created using equal portions of core subjects and an art form to learn concepts of both areas. For example, students may learn about the water cycle through movement, explore classic literature through drama, or they might study the Underground Railroad by the creation and performance of their own freedom songs,” said Fox Cities P.A.C. education coordinator, Cassie Schroeder. “By offering diverse programming we hope the arts reach more classrooms and impact the lives of more students.”
Why is it so important for teachers to incorporate arts into their classroom? Aside from statistical research done by Americans for the Arts that indicates students who participate in the arts are more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, perform community service and win attendance awards, it’s what arts can teach about others and themselves.
“Students who create beautiful work through the arts are more engaged, more motivated and want to be at school. Their voices are heard by participating in meaningful and relevant projects, experiences and performances. They are part of something larger than themselves and learn how to work with all types of people, accepting others for who they are,” Ulman explained. “Through the arts, all students learn new ways to communicate about and be in the world around them, they discover strengths and possibilities they might not have imagined, and work on the skills needed to be engaged citizens later in their lives. Once they leave school, every student will be judged on their character and quality of work, not their grades or test scores. That is why it is important to be immersed in the arts…It’s an all-inclusive way of learning, therefore it is a way for all students to find success.”