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School Spotlight: Eliza A. Blaker School #55

Written by: Heather Boelke, Eliza A. Blaker School #55 Arts Liaison,

First and second grade students at Eliza A. Blaker School #55 are practicing parts in preparation to go see “Tall Tales and Long Tails,” presented by the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra at Shortridge High School. On March 8th, the ICO will perform classical favorites of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf for IPS schoolsThis musical piece utilizes instrumental melodies to represent characters, both human and animal.

Under the instruction of music teacher Joseph Pockrass, students at Eliza A. Blaker have been working in teams studying instrument sounds and character representations. Students had opportunities to see and draw instruments, identify which characters they represent, and express the characters’ actions and emotions. Another lesson enabled students to create stories of their own. Teams were able to decide what was happening with their characters, acting out their scenes when the respective musical parts were played.

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School Spotlight: Edison School of the Arts 47

Written by: Amber Price, Edison School of the Arts #47 Arts Liaison,

Lenore Blank Kelner, Kennedy Center Teaching Artist, works with 4th grade students at Edison.

“Tableau is better than worksheets,” a common phrase you will hear from students at Edison School of the Arts.   Edison School of the Arts is a kindergarten through eighth grade IPS Innovation school for the arts. This year, as one of the nine Any Given Child Indy pilot schools, Edison School of the Arts chose to integrate drama in all core academic and arts classes through the strategy of tableau. A tableau is a “frozen picture.”

This year Edison established a partnership with the Clowes Memorial Hall Education department on the campus of Butler University. With the help of Donna Rund, Education Manager at Butler Arts Center, Clowes Memorial Hall, the Edison staff receives monthly arts integration professional development workshops learning about tableaus and how to integrate them with other subjects. With our focus on tableaus teachers have learned to incorporate what we call the “actor’s toolbox” in their daily lessons.   The “actor’s toolbox” is a term coined by Kennedy Center arts integration specialist, Sean Layne. With the use of their “actor’s toolbox,” students have learned to use their body, voice, imagination, concentration and collaborate with others.

6th grade students’ tableau

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Recap: Professional Development provided by Kennedy Center Teaching Artist Lenore Kelner

This week, Kennedy Center Teaching Artist Lenore Blank Kelner visited Indianapolis to provide professional development to teachers and teaching artists. On Tuesday, January 16, Kelner provided two workshops on Character Interviews; the morning session was held at Eliza Blaker Elementary School, and the afternoon session was held at Edison School of the Arts. The workshops focused on connecting reading comprehension with drama. Kelner took participants through three lessons, which included tips on how to keeps students engaged during read-alouds, teaching vocabulary words by using theatre/drama tools and concepts, and using a talk-show setting to interview students as characters from books to test comprehension and encourage inferences. 

On Wednesday, January 17, Kelner demonstrated her lessons with a fourth grade class at Edison School of the Arts. Teachers were able to observe and have a debrief discussion afterwards. Between the two days of professional development, over 60 teachers were able to participate.




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Second Annual Arts Education Day at the Indiana Statehouse

The Indiana Arts Education Network is busy planning for their second annual Arts Education Day at the Indiana Statehouse on Tuesday, February 13th. The network is planning a full day of activities to help our elected officials understand the powerful benefits of a well-rounded education that includes music & the arts. Activities include individual appointments with elected officials, a legislator & staff luncheon, and a formal resolution adoption in support of Arts Education. The network plans to present a unified “ask” for this year’s general assembly and hopes to nurture relationships with elected officials and staff members. If you are interested in attending Arts Education Day at the Indiana Statehouse, please email Mark Goff ( by Wednesday, January 17. 

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Year-End Program Update

I am excited to report that a year of program design work is now complete. In September, Any Given Child Indy began Phase 3, implementation, of its 5-year plan to provide robust arts education for all 23,000 K-8 students in Indianapolis Public Schools. We divided the plan into three stages, and we hit the ground running with nine schools
Stage One focuses on “Co-Curricular” activities to fill the 60% gaps in school access to arts organization programs. We infused three schools with the arts during September’s Arts Education Week; provided 8 schools with Professional Development for Fine Arts Teachers in October through Art With a Heart, Indiana Music Education Association, and Music for All; and we selected an arts liaison in each of the nine schools to plan field trips with groups like The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Indiana State Museum, and Indiana Repertory Theatre. 
Stage Two focuses on “Arts Integration” with the goal of partnering teaching artists with the 94% of math, reading, and science teachers seeking training on how to integrate the arts into their school curriculum and to bolster student motivation and achievement. Leading the way, Edison School of the Arts began using their Kennedy Center training in arts integration in their core academic classrooms this fall. Also, Any Given Child Indy recently submitted a grant application for Sapphire Theatre to begin similar work with James Russell Lowell School. 
The final stage is “Arts as Curriculum.” In this stage, we ensure the elimination of the 78-80% gaps in weekly instruction in theatre and dance. While this is a later stage, IPS has already jumped ahead to demonstrate its effectiveness by placing two arts organizations in two schools beginning this January. Next month, Young Actor’s Theatre and Kids Dance Outreach will begin providing weekly instruction in theatre and dance in both James Russell Lowell School and George Buck Elementary. Finally, we found that this ambitious plan needed additional funding in order to expand district wide, and we engaged Thomas P. Miller & Associates of Indianapolis to guide us in securing the needed additional resources. The most updated initiative framework can be found here. 
Special thanks to our financial supporters such as Notable Measures, and to the 64 volunteers and educators who met monthly this past year for a combined total of 328+ hours to design the Any Given Child Indy plan!  Help us continue to support arts education in Indianapolis Public Schools in 2018 and beyond, with a year-end contribution to Any Given Child Indy. Every dollar makes a difference. 
Happy Holidays!
Ernest Disney-Britton
Director of Grant Services and Education Partnerships
Arts Council of Indianapolis

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