New Arts360 Arts Integration Schools in West TN

By Ann Brown, Director of Arts Education —

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The inaugural year for the TN Arts Commission’s new Arts360 Arts Integration (AE-AI) grant program will support two elementary schools in implementing arts integration. Bartlett Elementary in Bartlett and Sherwood Elementary in Memphis have been approved to begin a three-year pilot program starting during the 2016-2017 academic year.

The AE-AI grant program builds off of two previous Commission initiatives funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Value Plus Schools and Arts360, and encourages schools to put the arts at the forefront of learning to improve instruction and increase student outcomes. Teachers are brought full circle, as learners, collaborators, facilitators and reflectors by making arts-based and arts integrated learning a critical component of every child’s educational experience.

Bartlett Elementary

Bartlett Elementary will implement arts integration using the AE-AI grant by establishing their BEST ARTS program with the goal of increasing student achievement and building teacher capacity through arts integration teaching and training. BEST ARTS will allow teachers to participate in arts integration professional development, and both students and teachers will have the opportunity to work with teaching artists in the classroom setting.

The school will partner with various arts organizations and teaching artists, collaborating primarily with New Ballet Ensemble & School (NBE). NBE will provide in-class student experiences through dance master classes and teacher professional development sessions. Lessons will connect arts experiences to language arts and math content.

BEST ARTS will also give Bartlett the platform to extend the impact of arts integration beyond their students to other schools, as well as the surrounding community. Parents and community members will be encouraged to volunteer in classrooms in conjunction with NBE residencies. Bartlett Elementary will also act as a laboratory school for arts integration and serve the Bartlett City Schools district through arts events, training events for teachers, the expansion of existing arts programs and being open for observation of arts-integrated lessons.

“Arts integration is an effective approach to whole school reform,” says Instructional Facilitator and Arts360 Coordinator Brad Foust. “We hope to build an arts integration program that will serve Bartlett City Schools, and schools in other districts, as a model for teaching and learning. Teachers will become more process-based, student-centered instructors; students will make authentic connections between the arts and other subjects through a process of creative learning; and the school will become more arts focused as the arts permeate all classrooms and curricular areas.”

Sherwood Elementary

Sherwood Elementary seeks to continue its “Enriched Academics through the Arts” focus through the AE-AI grant by integrating arts into school curriculum to enhance instruction, enrich learning, and improve student achievement. Aligned with K-5 State Curriculum Standards in the arts and other subject areas, teachers will collaborate with artists and arts specialists to develop lesson plans integrated with dance, music, theatre, photography and visual arts.

Grant funds will be used to partner with the Southeast Center for Education in the Arts and various resident artists to provide standards-based, arts-integrated instruction to students.  Overall, teachers will learn to integrate the arts in daily instruction making learning more fun and meaningful to students while also being supported in planning and delivering differentiated instruction according to students’ multiple learning styles. Through arts integration, Sherwood’s goal is to see improved academic performance, higher attendance rates, fewer discipline referrals, improved school culture and higher student self-efficacy.

The community will also be involved through residencies as well as a Community Arts Festival. This outdoor festival will be held on the school playground and will showcase talents in various art forms of Sherwood students and students from surrounding schools. An annual Arts Open House will invite community members to experience the work produced by students and teachers throughout the year.

“Ultimately, we’d like Sherwood to be an Arts Academy,” says Principal and Arts360 Coordinator Tonya Miller. “Sherwood Elementary Arts Academy will become a highly competitive school where students achieve in the top quartile of the state academically, enjoy arts integrated instruction daily, and learn to appreciate the arts through a variety of arts infused lessons, field trips, performances and products as they matriculate from Kindergarten through 5th grade.”