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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.

New East Aiken School of the Arts teacher brings passion for the dance

From the Aiken Standard: Story and photo by Rob Novit

When she was 3, Adrienne Robinson’s mother decided her daughter walked too much like her dad. So soon, the child began ballet lessons and remains immersed in the dance. She would later graduate from the Davidson School of the Arts. Robinson recently was appointed as the new dance teacher at East Aiken School of the Arts. “Kids want to learn and get excited,” the Augusta native said. “That’s what drives me – a passion for the kids and their education. I want to share what I know and have something special.” While many people might not be familiar with Suzanne Farrell, the legendary ballerina and teacher, Robinson certainly is. While at Columbia College in 2007, she was accepted for an internship at the prestigious Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. “I would get to watch Mrs. Farrell and interact with her (high school) kids from all over the world,” Robinson. “I attended workshops to see how to put on a program.” After graduation, she worked in arts-related and other fields before seeking a position as a dance teacher. Robinson heard that East Aiken was seeking someone for that position and was amazed and delighted that the school is a formal arts facility – focusing in large part on arts integration with other subjects like English, science and math. Robinson’s arrival completes an arts journey for the school. She has joined Kathy Linton, physical education; Carrie Power, visual arts; Megan Jensen, the music educator; and Chrissie Sturgis, the drama teacher who arrived in August. “It’s so exciting to have new full-time theater and dance teachers,” Power said. “Now we can give every student a comprehensive arts education.” Principal Lisa Fallaw said East Aiken is fortunate to find Robinson. “She has so much energy and fantastic ideas and comes with really good experience,” Fallaw said. “Her Kennedy (internship) really stood out.” Tonya Johnson directs an after-school dance program at East Aiken and has served as substitute to help with collaborative arts programs – such as the holiday concert scheduled on Thursday. “I shadowed her in the classes and bounced ideas on how she has done things,” Robinson said. “I’ll bring in some things I can add on to that.” She plans to introduce the children to dance history, dances new to them and others they can create themselves. “We’ll do the shag, too,” Robinson said with a smile. “I had no idea it even existed at one time. I just want to expose them to different things.” Image: Adrienne Robinson, the new dance teacher at East Aiken School of the Arts, is joined by students, from left, Anna Thompson, Angellyna Ergle and Kaylin Kight.

East Aiken School of the Arts a state finalist for high growth performance

East Aiken School of the Arts is an Arts in Basic Curriculum site. From The Aiken Standard (story and photo by Rob Novit):

[caption id="attachment_16844" align="alignright" width="246"]East Aiken School of Arts East Aiken Elementary School of the Arts teacher Melissa Tindall works with Brayden Anderson, left, and Jamie Fogle, right.[/caption] Lisa Fallaw, the East Aiken Elementary School of the Arts principal, practically leaped in the air when she learned of a major award from the State Department of Education this week. The school is a one of three finalists statewide as a Reward School of Progress – directed at schools designated as Title I and based on the number of children receiving free and reduced lunch fees. East Aiken will receive a $5,000 grant for being a finalist and will attend a state banquet in February. If the school is named the S.C. Title I Distinguished School at that time, Fallaw and other educators will attend a national conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, next fall. A year ago, more than 76 percent of the students met the Title I criteria, based on family income. Three elementary schools statewide are finalists for performance. East Aiken is among three schools recognized for growth on standardized tests last spring. Warrenville Elementary School received the same recognition a year ago. East Aiken improved from below average to average on performance and was 0.4 points away from achieving a “good’ rating on growth. An “average” grade means East Aiken met state standards in both criteria. The number of low-income children “is not a challenge,” said Fallaw. “We set high standards, and they will rise to those expectations. We’re setting and giving the kids goals and the strategies to achieve those goals.” East Aiken utilizes data-driven instruction and a focus on STEM – science, technology, engineering and math. Students can take the school’s own curriculum-based tests, said Fallaw – using the results as a benchmark to determine each child’s strengths and weaknesses. The students also benefit by getting more familiar with standardized testing before taking the formal state tests Fallaw said. East Aiken offers instruction in visual arts, physical education, choral music, drama and dance. Arts integration means the children can learn math, English/language arts and other content in collaboration with the arts programs. The ongoing academic progress is partly “attributed to arts integration,” Fallaw said. “It’s embedded in all the other classes and makes learning fun.” Classroom teacher Lori Jordan sees the value that arts integration provides. “It motivates students to learn,” Jordan said. “Through music and visual arts, it helps them retain what we’re teaching.”

Elementary Dance Teacher Vacancy

East Aiken School of the Arts in Aiken, SC is seeking a dance teacher with a dance education degree for the 2014-2015 school year. East Aiken School of the Arts is a fast-growing arts integration school serving students in grades 5k-5th. Apply online through the Aiken County Public School District website (click the "Job Opportunities" tab at the top of the page) or by contacting Heather Driver in Human Resources at 803-641-2463 or applicants@acpsd.net. The salary schedule is also located under the website's Job Opportunities tab.

East Aiken students transform bare wall into a musical mural

Artist Lynn Miller, a member of the South Carolina Arts Commission's Artist Roster, recently worked with fifth graders at East Aiken School of the Arts to create a mural for the music room. East Aiken is an Arts in Basic Curriculum Project site. Lynn Miller

“I like them to relate to the people who are on the mural,” Miller said. “Their participation is a wonderful experience for them. They become part of the school’s history, and later they can show what part of the work they did. There’s a lot of energy here.”
Read an article about the mural project in the Aiken Standard. The Artist Roster is an extensive list of artists in many disciplines who are available to presenters and to serve in arts education programs in South Carolina.  Any presenter -- from arts organizations to parks to recreation centers -- may search the roster to find artists. Many artists have work samples posted on the roster,  and many artists offer programs for a range of age groups, including adults. Find out more about the Artist Roster or search for artists. East Aiken School of the Arts article and photos: Rob Novit, The Aiken Standard