Scotts aims for A+ in arts integration

Posted at 1:01 PM on Apr 30, 2016

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By KARISSA MILLER

“Start by pointing feet out,” VPAC teacher Cheryl Klaft told Scotts Elementary School students Friday morning.

Students stood in rows as tiny feet aligned themselves in ballet’s first position —following her every move and those of the VPAC student dancers. They got a quick lesson in ballet, learned about modern dance and saw choreography in action.

During Scotts’ A+ Schools Program celebration day, all students participated in rotations for dance, visual arts, theatre arts and music. Leading the demonstrations were high school/early college teachers and students, who came from VPAC, Statesville and West Iredell.

This is the first year the school will be a part of the A+ School program of the North Carolina Arts Council, which involves teachers integrating the arts into the core curriculum.

Principal LeAnne Hall said Friday’s event was a way to showcase the different types of arts there are to students and give students a better idea of how arts-integration will be used during the 2016-17 school year.

At one student led station, Statesville High seniors Christian Soto and Logan Manning, taught students about animation and won their favor when they showed animation from the movie Big Hero 6.

They encouraged the students to draw what they see into their artwork as they sat in the outdoor classroom, surrounded by lush trees and plants. (The outdoor classroom is known as “Adam’s Garden”— in loving memory of a student that died and also in dedication to the late Calvin Brown, assistant principal).

“It made me feel good when a kid shouted, ‘Best day ever’,” said Soto.

Excitement grew all week among students, Hall said. The day began with steel drums and ended with students enjoying popsicles in the sunshine.

Engaging students

Some teachers at the school, said Hall, have been already been preparing students for next year with hands-on art assignments.

In one classroom, students are drawing an illustration of a metaphor or simile — showing the phrase, using it in a sentence and then teach the meaning of the simile to their peers.

For example, a student drew a hornet. In the picture it says, “Mad as a hornet.”

Below it, she explained that it means, “He was very mad.”

Guidance counselor Amanda Brookshire said she likes that arts-integration makes the vocabulary much more fun and interesting for students.

“They don’t have to sit perfectly still and silent,” she said.

Hall said that arts-integration is appealing to all learning styles and at all levels, “preparing students for the challenges of a global economy.”

"Arts integration refers to using the arts as a catalyst for learning across the curriculum and in all areas of learning,” according to the A+ Schools Program definition.

What’s next?

Hall said that they have applied for full grant funding through A+ and should hear back any day.

Hall said that the process has been smooth and that the timing has been good because it’s in line with some important federal education changes.

She mentioned the recent legislation change: ESSA (Every Child Succeeds Act) is highly supportive of arts education, a reform from the past measure.

All of the school’s teachers will receive professional development arts-integration training (specific to their subject matter and North Carolina classroom standards) in July in Raleigh.

“The training, coaching, and support from A+ and the North Carolina Arts Council will continue for at least three years, and perhaps longer if we need it,” Hall explained.

She said that the school would decide what direction they’d like go with the arts after their training. For example, students could learn musical instruments, such as, piano lessons in a keyboard lab classroom.

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