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Aiken Elementary students work up a STEAM through dance, movement

From The Aiken Standard Article and photo by Larry Wood
Math plus movement equaled a fun way for Aiken Elementary students to learn about fractions. Working with Gail Glover Faust for two weeks, the students used dance and movement to explore math and science concepts. Fifth-graders learned about force and motion, and third- and fourth-graders focused on fractions, incorporating the arts with science, technology, engineering and math, or STEAM. “For the fifth-graders, I used the elements of dance – walk, run, hop, skip, jump – to teach force and motion,” said Faust, who is an Artist in Residence with the S.C. Arts Commission in Columbia. “With the fourth-graders, we compared fractions, and with the third graders, I introduced them to fractions: how to add them, how to compare them, how to subtract them.” To teach students the difference between numerators and denominators, Faust created a special fraction dance. “When I say numerator, you go high,” Faust said, and the students jumped as high as they could. “When I say denominator, you go low,” Faust said, and the students knelt down close to the floor. “And in the middle, the dividing line, the dividing line,” Faust sang, and the students swayed side to side with their arms stretched out to make the line between numerator and denominator. “They loved that one,” Faust said. “They had fun. They’re engaged. They’re remembering. Through dance and movement, it’s being imprinted upon them what a numerator is and what a denominator is.” Faust also had the third- and fourth-graders form human fraction strips, with half the students sitting down and the other half standing, to learn how different fractions – one-half or three-sixths, for example – can look the same. “The students become the tools for learning,” Faust said. “When our bodies become the tools, then it’s so much easier to translate the math and the science. You can actually act it out and make it come to life.”
Annie Laurie Matson, Aiken Elementary’s music teacher, said the dance project allowed students to have fun and learn about science and math while meeting state requirements for dance in elementary schools.
“We did a study that showed that dance was not being addressed in our school, and there are standards in South Carolina for dance education,” said Matson who applied for an Innovative Arts Works Grant from the S.C. Department of Education to bring Faust to Aiken Elementary. “Kids need to move, and it’s also another way for kids to think creatively and outside the box.” Matson, a member of the Standards Writing Committee for South Carolina, said the committee’s members are working to address how students learn in all areas of the arts and how they can be incorporated into a STEAM education. “The skills for the 21st century will require kids to work together collaboratively and to use lots of different skills creatively. Most of theses kids will have jobs that don’t even exist right now and we can’t even imagine,” Matson said. “While our students might not be dancers and we’re not trying to make everybody a dancer or a musician or an artist, we want them to have those skills, appreciate them and have them in their lives.”

Spartanburg School District One offers dance for the first time

Spartanburg One's New Prospect Elementary and Holly Springs Motlow Elementary are Arts in the Basic Curriculum sites. ABC sites receive South Carolina Arts Commission grants to help integrate the arts into basic curriculum and daily classroom instruction. From the Spartanburg Herald-Journal

Second grade students at New Prospect Elementary School (pictured above) are dancing their way through the water cycle during a Science lesson, as a part of the newly implemented Dance pilot program in Spartanburg School District One. All District One elementary students in grades 2-5 now have the opportunity to participate in the first ever Dance program offered by the district. Mrs. Kellianne Floyd, who has taught dance in school at all levels over the last 12 years, will rotate between each elementary school in the district throughout the year, allowing students the opportunity to audition for Dance. Mrs. Floyd sees her auditioned groups every day during their Academic Arts time, and finds creative ways to integrate arts into the core curriculum through STEAM activities. In addition to working with her audition groups, Mrs. Floyd also works with entire grade levels teaching arts integration lessons, such as how to use poetry to choreograph a dance in AB form and using opposite words to create a dance sequence. Social Studies lessons have been transformed as students have had the opportunity to experience Native American dances, African folk dances, and even the Carolina Shag! Through this program, students have the ability to learn critical thinking skills by observing each other's performances and analyzing the skills implemented in each piece of choreography. Students can make connections between dance and academic subjects such as English/Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies, and have the opportunity to learn in a completely new way. All students who participate in the Dance program will have the opportunity to choreograph and perform dances in their schools and community. In April, a group of Dance students have been invited to perform at Operation: Stand Down, an organization for homeless veterans. Mrs. Floyd received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance Education from Winthrop University in 2003 and holds a Masters of Science in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management with an emphasis on Recreational Therapy from Clemson University. In addition, Mrs. Floyd holds an Ed. S. in School Administration from Converse College. She has had opportunities to study with master teachers from around the world including Savion Glover, Frank Hatchett, Radio City Rockettes alumnae, So You Think You Can Dance alumnae Kathryn McCormick and Robert Roldan, and has also performed as a dancer in the 1996 Olympic Opening Ceremonies in Atlanta, GA.

TD Bank helps SmartARTS expand in Greenville schools

From the Greenville News Article by Paul Hyde, photo by Heidi Heilbrunn

[caption id="attachment_27694" align="alignleft" width="225"]Alan Ethridge Alan Ethridge, executive director, Metropolitan Arts Council[/caption] The Metropolitan Arts Council’s arts-integration program in local schools got a hefty boost with a $200,000 pledge from TD Bank on Tuesday. The program, SmartARTS, uses the visual and performing arts to engage students and improve achievement in the core academic subjects in dozens of Greenville County schools. Cal Hurst, regional vice president of TD Bank, announced the grant at a Tuesday press conference in downtown Greenville. “SmartARTS has a proven track record of success in improving academic achievement through integration of the arts into the standard curricular of our public schools,” Hurst said. The pledge will establish the TD Center for Arts Integration at MAC’s office at 16 Augusta Street. “TD Bank believes in investing in the communities in which we serve by carefully selecting projects and programs of cultural and education value,” Hurst said. The money, to be paid over several years, will be used “to continue and expand the SmartARTS program,” said Alan Ethridge, executive director of MAC, the Greenville arts umbrella organization. SmartARTS currently has a budget of $225,000 annually. That money is used to train teachers and artists to partner in the classroom. Arts integration “is a natural way to engage students and to keep their interest,” said Mary Leslie Anderson, principal at League Academy of Communication Arts. SmartARTS helps students “to be analytical, critical, reflective thinkers,” Anderson said. In a classroom with an arts-integration component, an English teacher might use landscape or abstract paintings to inspire student essays. He or she might use self-portraits throughout history to encourage students to write reflections about themselves. Science teachers might use creative movement to help younger students understand cloud formation. The arts build student confidence and teach broad “21st century skills,” said Elaine Donnan, magnet coordinator at League Academy “Students will take these creative and problem-solving skills and the confidence they get through these programs and apply them to everything they do in the future,” Donnan said. League Academy, a magnet middle school with students in grades six through eight, has a particularly strong commitment to the SmartARTS program. “We try to get as many teachers as we can to do the SmartARTS training in the summer,” Anderson said. “It really helps the newer teachers especially to understand what arts integration looks like.” SmartARTS began in 2002 with three federal grants from the U.S. Department of Education totaling $2.1 million, said Charles Ratterree, MAC board chairman and assistant director of the Fine Arts Center. Beginning in two high-poverty schools, SmartARTS subsequently expanded to meet the demand from other schools, including the Charles Townes Center, Greenville’s public school for the highly gifted. After federal funding expired in 2007, the MAC board decided to continue the program with local funding. “Since then, over $2.1 million has been raised to expand SmartARTS,” Ratterree said. “It has trained over 200 artists and more than 250 teachers during its training institutes.” More than 60 Greenville schools have participated in a SmartARTS project since 2002, Ethridge said. SmartARTS helps to bridge the gaps teachers often find between students’ different learning styles, Ethridge said. Ratterree drew attention Tuesday to TD Bank’s strong commitment to Greenville. “For MAC to be able to share in the phenomenal philanthropy of TD Bank is a real privilege,” Ratterree said. “This collaboration between the two organizations is further evidence of TD Bank’s commitment to making Greenville the best city it can possibly be. Since its founding locally in 1986, TD Bank has provided million of dollars in charitable support for Greenville-area initiatives. This is a staggering accomplishment, and one of which the entire community can be very proud.” TD Bank’s Hurst said the arts contribute substantially to a city’s economic vitality. “We recognize the value of the arts to a community’s growth and prosperity,” Hurst said. “It’s something we’ve seen vividly in Greenville.” For more information about the SmartARTS program, call MAC at 864-467-3132.

Leader of the band: Scott Rush wants more arts education

From the Charleston Post and Courier Article by Adam Parker, photos by Grace Beahm

For Scott Rush, nothing could be finer than to stand before a school band and make music. He has tried to make it a lifelong habit, though his skills as an educator have propelled him up the chain of command and away from the band room. Today, Rush is director of fine and performing arts for Dorchester District 2, a generally high-performing public school system that serves the lower half of Dorchester County, especially the Summerville area. His years in education have taught him that a school curriculum infused with the arts improves learning,retention, test scores, behavior and general performance. The arts are considered vital if educators are to teach “the whole person,” he said. As the Charleston County School District grapples with an $18 million budget shortfall, representing about 4 percent of its $430 million annual operating budget, it’s making cuts that impact arts education. Dorchester District 2, a smaller district with a $187 million operating budget, instead has strengthened its commitment to arts education and empowered Rush to encourage collaboration and improve programming. In 2007, a federal arts grant for Alston Middle School allowed district officials to add fine arts programs that resulted in improved attendance, discipline and math and literacy scores. A recent federal grant for River Oaks Middle School and Eagle Nest Elementary School enabled the district to add more arts technology, an arts-dedicated technology associate and a drama teacher, introducing theater as a new core area of study at the two schools. “We hope that this infusion of more arts education will show some of the same successes,” Rush said. More than 70 percent of the district’s students participate in a fine arts class. More than 450 students enrolled in two fine arts summer enrichment programs. Lasting impressions The value of the arts to school learning became clear to Rush when he was a young student in Camden, where he grew up. His father was minister of music at church; his siblings played guitar and sang. At 4, Rush learned the ukulele. And music was a big part of the school day. At Camden Middle School, dynamic choral and band teachers offered Rush a glimpse of his own future. “By eighth grade I knew I wanted to play French horn,” he recalled. In high school, he realized he wanted to be a band director. He majored in music at the University of South Carolina, attended the Brevard Music Center as a student and counselor in the summers, played second horn in the South Carolina Philharmonic and joined the 1986 Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra. It was good preparation for the New England Conservatory of Music, where Rush earned his master’s degree. He was in Boston for nearly four years, studying and freelancing. In 1990, he moved to Atlanta, performed with several ensembles and taught at nearby Kennesaw State University. The performing life was fast becoming routine and unfulfilling, Rush said. He’d warm up, rehearse, perform; warm up, rehearse, perform. It wasn’t enough. “A friend asked me, ‘What do you want to do?’ Well, I’ve always wanted to be a band director.” Dream come true Rush, then in his late 20s, moved back to South Carolina and took a job at Newberry Middle School. He earned less money, but he was finally doing what he loved the most. He was there seven years. Then, in 1999, he applied for an open position at Wando High School.

“I couldn’t turn that down,” Rush said. Teaching band at Wando was a dream come true. He flourished there for 15 years. “They were fantastic years. Everything about that job I loved.”

Wando had 108 band students when Rush first arrived and 282 when he left. All the while, Rush racked up the state and national awards. “Every child has the ability to fall in love with an art form,” he said. “If you are going to teach the whole child, Mozart and Michelangelo are just as important as Einstein and Shakespeare,” he said. He’s proud that 44 of his former students have pursued careers as professional musicians. Support from above Rush said Dorchester District 2 Superintendent Joe Pye provides invaluable support. And that commitment trickles down. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="520"]Flutists Drew Smith-Jones and Dartagnan Brownlee rehearse under the direction of Scott Rush at Ashley Ridge High School. Flutists Drew Smith-Jones and Dartagnan Brownlee rehearse under the direction of Scott Rush at Ashley Ridge High School.[/caption] “Art is intrinsic for the kids,” said Glenn Huggins, assistant superintendent over curriculum and instruction. For example, in a social studies class recently, Huggins noticed the teacher was discussing the Egyptian pyramids with students. Down the hall in art class, students also were working on pyramids and talking about ancient Egyptian history. That was not by chance. It was a result of the kind of coordination the district encourages and Rush helps achieve. In 2003, another friend suggested that Rush write a book about teaching band. He thought about it for a second, then got to work. “Habits of a Successful Band Director” was a surprise hit, and it led to the writing of six more method books in the “Habits” series, some co-authored by Jeff Scott and Emily Wilkinson or Christopher Selby. Selby directs the Charleston County School of the Arts Symphony Orchestra. He said Rush insists on maintaining high standards. “I saw that on the marching band field at Wando, and I see it in Dorchester District 2,” Selby said. “He does work very hard to be the best and to have the best and to create the best.” He also has a clear vision for the direction music education has to go, Selby said. It must go is toward a more robust curriculum that includes the arts: STEAM, not STEM: science, technology, engineering, arts and math. “Any education that focuses on just one half of the brain is insufficient,” Selby said. “STEM was missing a limb. In order for education philosophy to be complete, it includes the arts.” Community Rush is a key partner for area arts organizations such as the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Gaillard Center and Engaging Creative Minds, which collaborate with educators to enhance school districts’ offerings. “We have found that it’s a homerun,” Rush said. “You’d think everybody would embrace arts-infused education. But equally important is art for art’s sake.” What happens to a young listener when she hears Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings or views Rembrandt’s “Storm on the Sea of Galilee”? How do they resonate in her imagination? How might they improve her quality of life? For some students, the arts are more than a passing interest, hobby or method for enhancing academic performance; the arts provide a means of expression, a license to be creative, Rush said. “The instruction we provide (students) should be strong enough, substantial enough ... to enable them to pursue a career,” he said. “(Educators) can’t pick and choose what’s important and not so important to any individual student.” More than 25,000 students at three high schools, six middle schools, 15 elementary schools and one alternative school benefit from this approach.

Clarendon I STEAM Institute a success

From The Sumter Daily Item Article and photo by Konstantin Vengerowsky

From learning stop-motion animation to basket weaving, students in Clarendon School District 1 are learning various skills this summer through a hands-on program that engages their creativity and develops their critical thinking skills. About 100 students, grades three through eight, are participating in the Engaging Creative Minds' Summer Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math Institute, a free six-week program being held for the second year at St. Paul Elementary School in Summerton. The program ended Friday, with a showcase of what the students learned. The summer program is a project of Engaging Creative Minds, a nonprofit Charleston organization which started two years ago with programs in eight schools in Charleston County. The organization hires local artists and professionals in the visual, dance, music and theater arts and gives them an opportunity to teach their skills to students. The program integrates arts activities into science, technology, engineering and math subject areas. "This program combines traditional subject areas with arts activities, something that is unique in rural school districts," said Robin Berlinsky, executive director of the organization. One goal is to address the loss of learning during the summer months while engaging students in exciting activities, said Terry K. Peterson, one of the program's founders and senior fellow for education at College of Charleston. "Research clearly shows many students suffer learning losses over the summer," he said. "There are not many affordable summer learning programs in the communities that need them the most, and some that may exist are not engaging. The STEAM summer camps have found an excellent recipe for student, teacher and artist engagement and thus student success in the summers." South Carolina Arts Commission funded the program this year through a $100,000 grant, and the program could be used as a model in other rural areas, Berlinsky said. Each week of the program includes a different theme, such as engineering, chemistry, the solar system, computer science, marine life and entrepreneurship. Kari Maastricht, camp director, said activities were brainstormed to revolve around the different themes and combine STEAM subject areas. A week before the camp started, the organization's staff met with the local artists and teachers to develop a curriculum. "We have heard from many teachers who are telling us how they want to integrate art activities now into their curriculum during the school year," Maastricht said. "Because the teachers serve as camp counselors, they are able to have the same experiences as the students." Tiffany Housey, who will work as an art teacher at the school starting this school year, taught students the basics of stop-motion animation and craft making. "We were able to integrate math and animation together," she said. Housey's students built characters out of clay, photographed them with tablet devices and then using a stop-motion animation project made videos. "They had so much fun doing the projects that they forgot they were actually learning," Housey said. "I definitely discovered a love for teaching during this program." Lori Koon, a fourth-grade teacher at the school, said the program is a great assessment tool for the teachers. "It has opened my eyes for students to have unique ways to get engaged in different topic areas," she said. "They acquire many new skills in the program." Tyrese Lawson, a senior at Scott's Branch Middle-High School, served as one of the camp counselors. Lawson said he enjoyed working with the students, especially in the visual-arts component. Rosandra Bennett, a sixth-grade student at St. Paul, said besides all of the camp's activities, she enjoyed the field trips students took to Charleston and Columbia. Students had the opportunity to tour the Boeing plant in Charleston, Fort Sumter and South Carolina Aquarium. The organization partners with Boeing to make the camp possible. Clarendon 1 Superintendent Rose Wilder said she was thankful for the district being able to host the program again this year. "We've been very blessed to once again have the program at St. Paul Elementary School," she said. "The students were engaged and impacted through the hands-on material they learned." State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said it is her goal for every at-risk student in South Carolina to have access to high-quality extended learning opportunities. "Learning through the arts makes this a reality through a fun, innovative approach," she said. For more information on Engaging Creative Minds, visit www.engagingcreativeminds.org. Image: Clarendon School District 1 fifth-grade student Jordan Kind, left, seventh-grade student Carlos Cruz and Lori Koon, a fourth-grade teacher at St. Paul Elementary School, construct a hat out of different materials on Wednesday. The project was an activity of the Summer Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math Institute provided by Engaging Creative Minds.

Engaging Creative Minds seeks part-time curriculum coach

ecmlogoEngaging Creative Minds of Charleston is hiring a part-time curriculum coach. Job summary Provides academic and arts-integration coaching, planning and support services to ECM-designated school personnel; administrators, classroom teachers and lead teachers to ensure the achievement and success of high quality arts-integrated experiences (lessons and field trips). Assists with completion and submission of the AIP (Arts Integration Plan), meets with designated administrative staff and grade level teams, and documents and tracks process of AIP from beginning (choosing community partner) to completion (evaluating the experience). Assists with parent communication/marketing regarding all ECM school experiences. Has an in-depth understanding and ability to market all ECM Partners to ensure equitable employment for ECM Partners and Organizations. Duties and responsibilities

  1. Completion and submission of the Arts Integration Plan (AIP) in accordance with designated due dates.
  2. Manages communication using a variety of tools to promote ECM’s AIP to school personnel and ECM designee throughout each experience.
  3. Assists with collection, submission and evaluation of surveys.
  4. Mentors, motivates and provides personalized professional development to each school’s grade level teams to strengthen arts-integrated lesson planning and implementation strategies.
Knowledge and skills
  1. Experience with arts integration.
  2. Leadership experience managing and motivating diverse teams.
  3. Knowledge of K-12 curriculum standards.
  4. Effective communication and organizational skills.
  5. Bachelors degree in education.
  6. Flexibility in schedule.
This is a part-time job. Coaches submit biweekly hours. Salary $50/hour.  Send resume and letter of interest to susan@engagingcreativeminds.org.

Clarendon One students visit Steam Institute at College of Charleston

From WCBD Charleston

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) — Fifty Clarendon School District One students in 3rd – 8th grade are in Charleston for three days thanks to funding by the South Carolina Arts Commission. We’re told 70 students and 20 chaperones from Clarendon School District One boarded a charter bus at St. Paul Elementary school to travel to the Engaging Creative Minds Summer STEAM Institute, a 6-week arts integration camp that teachers STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math). Tuesday afternoon, students are taking part in the Boeing Dreamlearners program.  In the evening ,they are being treated to pizza and movies in the dorm after a visit from the CofC team who will talk to them about college life and answer any questions they may have about college. Wednesday the students will take a Fort Sumter Tour and visit the water park.  In the evening the Children’s Museum will open just for them!  The boat leaves the dock tomorrow at 10:45.  The Children’s Museum is open from 6 p.m. -10 p.m. On Thursday, morning students will walk the Ravenel Bridge and then head back to Summerton, SC.

Educator Jed Dearybury of Spartanburg named 2016 Lowell Milken Center Fellow

From the S.C. Department of Education

Jed DearyburyFORT SCOTT, KS – The Lowell Milken Center (LMC) for Unsung Heroes in Fort Scott, Kansas, an international educational nonprofit, has awarded its prestigious Fellowship to elementary teacher Jed Dearybury of Spartanburg, South Carolina. Dearybury was in Fort Scott the week of June 19 for collaboration with the Center. The LMC Fellowship is awarded on the basis of merit to educators who have distinguished themselves in teaching respect and understanding through project-based learning or who have the potential for this distinction. The Center selects exemplary teachers from across America and world, drawn from a variety of disciplines, to collaborate on projects that discover, develop and communicate the stories of Unsung Heroes in history. In his 13 years as a classroom teacher, Dearybury taught 1st grade for five years, 2nd for seven years, and 3rd for one year in Spartanburg School District 6 in South Carolina. Mr. D, as the students called him, brought his love of music and the arts into every lesson he taught. With a piano in his classroom, students spent more time gathered around singing about their curriculum than they did at their tables. Sculptures made of clay, recycled materials, and other art mediums always filled the room. “Always do your best” and “I love you no matter what” were his two class mantras as he strived to live by the Argentine proverb, “If I pass through life without making a mark, for what did I live.” While teaching in District 6, he truly made a mark. Selected as their District Teacher of the Year in 2014, he went on to become a S.C. Honor Roll teacher as he was named one of the Top 5 Teachers in South Carolina. That same year, he received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, which earned him a trip to The White House to meet President Obama, and was named a GQ Magazine Male Leader of the Year. At the conclusion of year 13, (end of the 2015 school year), Dearybury was named the director of professional development and communications for the Palmetto State Teachers Association. In his new role, Jed has been able to take the arts-infused, technology-filled, inquiry-based lessons from his classroom into schools across S.C. In the past year, he has been able to lead innovative, 21st Century professional development in over 100 schools across the state. In his free time, Jed is an adjunct professor in the Education Department at Converse College in Spartanburg, and he serves as a founding member on the Education Council for the national nonprofit, Lily Sarah Grace. The organization leads professional development across the country focusing on arts-infused, inquiry-based learning and provides grants for underprivileged elementary schools. In 2014, Dearybury was a finalist for South Carolina Teacher of the Year. He is a SKYPE Master Teacher and has a popular podcast. Lowell Milken Center Director Norm Conard says, "Jed has such a wonderful diverse background and talents, from music to art to math. He is a creative teacher leader.” While in Fort Scott, LMC Fellows gain knowledge, educational resources and ongoing support to enhance their classrooms and help students cultivate a passion for learning by creating projects that initiate positive change. Fellows emerge prepared to develop Unsung Heroes projects with their students as they apply and evaluate the stories of role models who have changed the world throughout history.

Celebrated East Aiken art teacher has moved to state position

From the Aiken Standard Article and photo by Rob Novit

[caption id="attachment_24519" align="alignright" width="200"]Carrie Power Megan Jensen, right, East Aiken School of the Arts' music teacher, gets a hug from art teacher Carrie Power following the school's spring arts festival that Jensen directed.[/caption] After moving to South Carolina, Carrie Power attended a job fair for teachers in Charleston and soon was interviewing around the state for art teaching jobs before accepting an East Aiken School of the Arts position. Almost immediately, Power emerged as a strong leader who encouraged and challenged students to develop a love for the arts. Twenty-five years later, she was still bringing art to new generations of kids before taking an associate’s position with the S.C. Department of Education’s visual and performing arts office in October. In that role, Power is managing arts curricula and focusing on SDE grants – a great opportunity, she said, to work at the state level on arts coordination administration. “But the hardest thing is leaving the children,” she admitted. “I do miss them, and I miss the people I’ve worked with there.” Power’s contributions to East Aiken have been remarkable. She played a key role in the Aiken County School District’s decision to designate East Aiken as a school of the arts. More recently, The school has been recognized as a magnet facility through its offerings of visual arts, choral opportunities, physical education, the dance, drama, creative writing instrumental instruction and a wide range of after-school programs. Earlier this year, the S.C. Art Education Association named Power as the Art Educator of the Year – an award that “was long, long overdue,” said physical education teacher Kathy Linton. In 2002, the teachers began serious discussions about arts integration in collaboration with other content areas. “That’s a natural way for children to learn math, reading, science and social studies,” Power said. “It’s the hook that keeps them actively engaged as well as their teachers and parents.” It didn’t happen overnight, she said, but the emerging arts programs changed the ecology of the school – how teachers and parents think about education and how their children learn and grow. When Mary Lovvern, the now-retired principal, arrived at East Aiken in 2002, she was immediately impressed by the student artwork displayed throughout the school. Each piece was posted with academic and visual arts standards. “Carrie Power was the amazing art teacher who curated the student artwork and created a museum atmosphere in this unique school,” Lovvern said via email. Lisa Fallaw, now in her fourth year as principal, considers Power a visionary leader. “Her passion for arts integration and the development of arts programs is truly inspirational and will serve her well at the State Department,” Fallaw said. In recent years, visitors arriving at East Aiken for the first time can’t help but be startled and charmed by a giant robot “protecting” the front door. Parent David Ciani had built several robots – including a giant roach! – for the school in partnership with Power. Ciani also helped her art students build their own robots. “The kids will learn the different sciences like biology and also math and some engineering,” Power said in an earlier interview.

Arts-integrated magnet program enables students to grow in those studies and beyond

From the Greenwood Index-Journal Article by St. Claire Donaghy; photos by Joshua S. Kelly

Reading a text book or taking notes from a teacher are not the only ways for children to learn. An arts-integrated learning approach might be a good fit for a child if he or she would rather make stop-motion animation videos than more traditional techniques to understand prehistoric reptiles and dinosaurs. Instructors with Greenwood School District 50's Arts, Communication and Theatre School (ACTS) Magnet program at Brewer Middle School said the curriculum offered there often appeals to students who learn best by touching, drawing, moving and performing. The program at Brewer is for students in grades six through eight. "A kid should not apply for the ACTS program solely as an avenue to get into the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities," said Brewer ACTS program dance teacher, Sheri Brewington. "The focus of this program is learning through arts integration. That being said, it may spark greater interest in the arts and a student may be inspired to pursue them further. "We do turn out a lot of kids who do go on to study the arts through Governor's School and beyond, but that is not the focus of ACTS," Brewington said. brewermiddleschoolRecently, more than 70 ACTS eighth-graders enrolled in the program's musical theater course performed Disney's "The Lion King Jr." ACTS drama teacher Ansley Keenan, 32, said exposing young people to theater provides them with opportunity express themselves in different ways. "All of the ACTS kids, from fifth through eighth grade, are exposed to drama," Keenan said. "If it's not going to turn them into theater practitioners, it will at least develop some kind of arts appreciation and understanding of audience etiquette. If they do want to audition for shows outside of school, it gives them the tools to do that." With the drama production the eighth grade just put on, Keenan said students have gotten valuable experience in collaboration and self-confidence by being on stage. In addition to core academic subjects, ACTS students are also taught drama curriculum in accordance with state standards for drama, Keenan said. They are taught about acting, play writing, technical design, theater history and research. "In ACTS, students choose a focus," Keenan said. "It could be voice or drama or dance, or strings, art or another focus and there is opportunity to choose a rotation for focuses as well, depending on grade level and what courses they have fulfilled already." Brewer Middle SchoolThere are six class periods in a school day. Sheri Brewington, 43, ACTS dance teacher, was teaching dance at Brewer as an elective even before the district implemented the ACTS magnet program at the school. She said the district liked the "school-within-a-school" format that also enabled students to take part in core academics and athletics. "About half of our students come in with previous arts experience and about half do not," Brewington said. Brewington has seen former students go on to become teachers at Brewer and others go on to study dance in college. "It's surreal to think that something you taught a student stuck, especially when you reflect back on days teaching when you felt nothing went right," Brewington said. Beverly Psomas, 61, ACTS voice, guitar and musical theater teacher said her main goal is for students to be able to understand and read music. "At some of the music festivals and clinics we attend, there is a sight-reading component," Psomas said. "They have to read music they have never seen before. I really try to prepare students for music study at the high school level and eighth-graders here get a high school credit for my class." This style of learning helps students feel comfortable in front of other people, whether it's an interview or performance situation, Psomas said, noting she has been with the ACTS program for eight years. Jessica Hrivnak, 23, ACTS strings teacher said the program exposes a number of students to the study of music. "We started a pilot strings program for fifth-grade non-magnet program students," Hrivnak said. "And, a fifth-grade magnet program is at Woodfields Elementary." Cathy Chalmers, Greenwood School District 50 director for gifted and talented and magnet programs, said finding the right fit for a child's style of learning can be a key to academic success. "The South Carolina Department of Education encouraged us, six or seven years ago, to look at children through different lenses," Chalmers said. "We were encouraged to create various learning environments for children, because all don't learn the same way or have interests in the same things. If we find matches for students' areas of interest and talent, they flourish. "A dancer may be able to spend a really focused hour in honors Algebra I when she knows she's going to her dance class, in school, in an hour," Chalmers said. "The same thing may be for tech kids. They can handle that advanced English class because they know they are going to go to robotics for an hour."