Arts integration programs in schools are benefiting more kids
The new Morgan Arts Council arts integration programs in Morgan
County Schools are in full swing.
Most classes are eight weeks long, with one session a week, and occur during
the school day. Local artists are working with students and partnering with class-room teachers in visual arts, theater, dance and art technology.
Arts integration connects art forms with another educational subject area. Specific content standards and objectives are addressed.
Warm Springs Intermediate School fifth graders are doing role-playing classes with theater director, actress and counselor Margi Griffiths and school counselor Matt Tolliver. Topics include bullying prevention, self-confidence, expressing emotions and relating toothers.
Artist Lynn Lavin is exploring endangered animals through art in a pottery class with 27 intermediate school fourth graders. Lavin will show art teacher Marianna Ruggerio how to use the school’s kiln for her classes, said Morgan Arts Council Arts Education program coordinator Angie Hott.
Visual artist Mary Anne Haines is making paper mache art from recyclables with 3rd grade intermediate school students.
Dancer Jennifer Carpenter-Peak is doing a movement and Middle Eastern folk dance class at Berkeley Springs High School with dance teacher Holli McCumbee.
An acting class with New World Theater owner Jill Klein Rone and 8th grade language arts teacher Joe Spivy is happening after-school at Warm Springs Middle School.
A teen film camp is also scheduled this summer with Griffiths and Berkeley Springs High School drama teachers Brice Williams. The video they produce will be shown during the Morgan County Fair.
Hott did a presentation for the Morgan County School Board on their new program direction.
A pilot arts integration
program in Tennessee schools showed overall test scores
rose in math, reading and
science. Arts integration helps kids not only with academic skills, but also with social skills, Hott said.
The arts encourage creativity, imagination, critical thinking, verbal skills and problem-solving and help students develop skills to be successful in school, life and work, she said. Benefits also included increased self-confidence and empowering kids to make positive life choices.
Morgan Arts Council founder and board member Jeanne Mozier said with the economic downturn and decreased after-school class enrollment that they chose arts integration programming with classes during the school day to “deliver arts to kids in the most effective way possible.”
Funding changes gave them more flexibility about their programming, allowing them to use local artists in schools for longer periods of time, she said. Already they have reached nearly three times as many students through the pilot program than they usually would with the after-school classes.
They plan to have an artist in every Morgan County school for eight weeks by 2014-2015. By 2015-2016, they hope to have an artist from every discipline (visual arts, theater, dance and technology) in every school. They’re looking for funding and will assess the results after five years of full programming.
The Morgan Arts Council will continue the Adopt-a-School programs where artists visit the schools for one to three-day workshops and assemblies in some form, Mozier said. They hope to eventually reach every child with arts programming.
Mozier said Hott was recently a substitute teacher in a class in which Lavin has been doing her endangered animals art. Hott said kids were reading endangered animal stories, telling her all about endangered animals and were excited about Lavin’s photos of polar bears.
“This is exactly what we wanted to happen,” Mozier said.
If you talk to innovators in the economic world, they are looking for creative thinkers and creative problem-solvers, Mozier said.
“The arts unlock creativity and give kids an avenue to discover their own creative sense,” she said.
Counselor Matt Tolliver said Griffiths has been working with him to help fifth graders better understand the importance of body language and the emotional cues we get when others show how they are feeling.
They’ve done charades-type games where students acted out emotions and other kids had to guess what feelings they were portraying. Those exercises are connected to the fifth habit (“Seek first to understand, then to be understood”) from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which Tolliver uses as a guide for his curriculum.
“The biggest advantage is having Margi provide some high-energy exercises that help reinforce the messages I am trying to give the students. It’s always helpful to have another person encouraging what I am trying to develop in our students,” Tolliver said.
School Superintendent David Banks was excited about the idea of arts integration classes during the school day.
“It’s a hook to make a kid want to come to school in the morning, Banks said.
The arts are a very important part of our community and there is pride and interest in the arts in our community, Banks said. Arts integration allows schools to teach required courses and fit art in where they can.
“It’s a perfect fit,” Banks said.
Warm Springs Intermediate School Principal Joyce Ott said she was so pleased to have the Morgan Arts Council teaming up with the school and Morgan County Schools to benefit students. She hoped that the program would continue at the school for years to come.
“The arts are vital to the success of students. It is important that we nurture and develop the creative side of our youth. This program is win/win for both organizations and we are delighted to participate,” Ott said.