Leesa Jing, Arts Council of Indianapolis Grant Services & Education Partnerships Coordinator
Back in May, I joined the Arts Council of Indianapolis as the Grant Services & Education Partnerships Coordinator, thus becoming one of the new Site Coordinators for Any Given Child Indy. As someone who grew up in the arts, I could not have been more ecstatic to receive an offer to join the Arts Council staff just four days before my graduation from Butler University.
At Butler, I studied arts administration and mathematics while being a member of the Butler University Dance Team, serving as a Butler Student Ambassador at the Admissions Office, and participating in numerous other campus organizations. I also volunteered with Art With a Heart and completed internships with the National Panhellenic Conference, Arts for Learning, Asante Children’s Theatre, and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. One of my most valuable experiences from the past four years was having the opportunity to study in Europe for three months, during which I explored the arts and cultures of Italy, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Ireland.
Amber Price, art teacher at Edison School for the Arts, attended “The Sound of Music” while in Washington, DC for the Annual Arts Integration Conference.
There’s an Old Chinese proverb that says, “Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I will remember. Involve me and I will understand. Step back and I will act.” I’ve used this proverb before to explain the Orff Schulwerk approach to teaching elementary music that I use in my classroom; and to me, it also applies to arts integration.
In June, I was given a wonderful opportunity to attend the Kennedy Center’s Annual Arts Integration Conference in Washington, DC. This conference gave me a better understanding of what arts integration is, and it gave me strategies on how to incorporate arts integration into the classroom. The experience was absolutely incredible!
As an attendee, I was involved in and experienced lessons first hand, which made the conference very enjoyable. I wasn’t just sitting in a chair listening to someone talk, I was going through actual lessons that the master teacher had used with children. I was up dancing and creating tableaus with other teachers; I was sitting on the floor having discussions with other teachers and administrators; and I was participating and creating just as a child would in an arts-integrated classroom lesson.
As students, parents, and teachers have been preparing for the new school year, the Steering Committee of Any Given Child Indy has also been busy working hard to prepare for the 2017-18 year. Following the budget and design work completed in the past year, the committee is now at the beginning of program implementation.
All nine pilot schools have signed agreements, and they will spend most of this coming school year working directly with the Professional Development Committee and two arts partners to plan full weekly instruction. The Professional Development Committee has put together a timeline for pilot schools to provide them with guidance and resources as we move towards integrating theatre and dance instruction into the schools. Moving into the new school year, the next big event to look forward to is Arts in Education Week, September 10-16, 2017.
The Steering Committee has also accepted a $300 donation from Notable Measures, a nonprofit started by local students to help others’ receive arts education.
The Steering Committee of Any Given Child Indy accepts a $300 check from Notable Measures.
Meg and Kate Dimmett present a check to IPS School 70.
Notable Measures, a local nonprofit that works to raise funds and awareness to support youth music education, donated $300 to Any Given Child Indy this month. Kate and Meg Dimmett started the organization at the beginning of the year, when they were 13 and 10 years old, respectively. Their organization recently gained nonprofit status in April. Kate says, “The idea began around the holidays when our family was discussing ways we could focus on giving to others. We were in the process of looking for a new violin for me, and I saw how expensive it was to purchase a quality instrument. Combined with the cost of lessons and participation in orchestra programs, music camps, etc., I realized that not all kids would be able to pursue music at an early age because it can be very expensive. We thought about ways that we could raise funds for kids to have more opportunities to participate in music programs and provide performance experiences for youth musicians as well. Notable Measures has been a way to do both.”
Heather Boelke, Eliza Blaker Elementary School Art Teacher
Any Given Child Indy provided an invaluable opportunity to advance my understanding and implementation of arts integration by sending me to the Kennedy Center’s Annual Arts Integration Conference. The resources provided throughout the experience included tools and strategies to engage students, their families, and the community in a rounded arts and academic curriculum. I learned from experts in education and networked with peers from across the country, establishing foundations for instruction with clear understanding of arts integration defined.
Most impactful to my own experience is the understanding that arts integration is a strategy for teaching which makes education more equitable for all students. We serve a diverse student population, each child having a unique set of needs. With arts integration practices in place in the classroom, students will learn by engaging in creative processes. They will develop skills in communication through varying aptitudes and reflect meaningfully on content and learning processes. Arts integration serves as an avenue to incorporating necessary 21st century skills in classroom instruction.
Among the many strategies shared during the conference, we closed by creating 6 Word Stories about our experiences. My acquired understanding of arts integration and its value to our students is as follows.
Meaningful content + enriching experiences = LIFELONG LEARNERS