$20 million partnership to expand S.C. arts learning initiatives
SCAC, S.C. Dept. of Education make landmark announcement
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An Arts in Basic Curriculum Project site classroom. SCAC file photo.[/caption]
For Immediate Release
A $20 million partnership announced today by the South Carolina Department of Education and South Carolina Arts Commission will help public schools throughout the state address pandemic related learning loss with proven, arts-based learning initiatives.
The American Rescue Plan, passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law March 11, 2021 by President Biden, included $121.9 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds (ARP ESSER), that has been administered through the U.S. Department of Education to state educational agencies.
The South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) is set to receive $2.1 billion in ARP ESSER funds to help South Carolina’s public schools address the impact that COVID-19 has and continues to have on students, families, educators, and school communities. Ninety percent of these funds will flow through to school districts with amounts determined in proportion to the amount of Title I, Part A funds they received in Summer 2020 from funds under the Every Student Succeeds Act. The remaining funds, which amount to $211,205,148 are to be used for state-level activities to address learning loss, summer enrichment programs, and comprehensive after school programs.
The SCDE solicited public input on the use of these funds and the needs that the state should address in its ARP ESSER plan which was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education on June 18, 2021. Leadership from the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) proposed to SCDE a creative pathway—rooted in innovation and evidence-based practices—that the arts are equipped to provide. Funding was requested to allow the SCAC’s team of professionals and network of partners to:
- help schools and teachers fill learning loss gaps in the arts,
- use arts integration to remediate core subject areas,
- and provide summer and afterschool learning opportunities that leverage the arts in schools throughout the state.
The SCDE approved $20 million for the SCAC to implement its plan over the course of the next three years.
“As a longtime music teacher, I have seen firsthand the impact that arts education can have on students,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman
. “The arts have a unique ability to engage students of diverse backgrounds across all subject areas which makes this initiative well suited for the receipt of these funds.”
“The South Carolina Arts Commission is confident in its ability to put this funding to use right away to equitably impact learning using the arts,” SCAC Executive Director David Platts
said. “Our team of professionals manages existing programs, partnerships, and grant-making infrastructure for this work, which includes federal and state reporting for accountability. ARP ESSER funding from the SCDE will enable expedient and effective scaling with various arts education partners on the local, state, and national levels.”
Programmatic focus areas of the SCAC’s plan include:
- Arts integration
- Arts in early childhood
- Arts industry certification credentials for high school students, building on existing vocational training programs
To realize its classroom-based goals, the SCAC will rely on its partners at the Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Project
, which currently serves about 44,000 students in 74 schools and has been cooperatively led for more than 30 years by the SCAC, SCDE, and Winthrop University. The ARP ESSER funding will facilitate scaling the program to:
- increase access to quality arts education (targeting underserved communities)
- develop arts-rich learning environments
- build, restore, expand, and support infrastructure for arts learning at the district level
- research and develop new and innovative instructional practices.
“We have a couple of years’ worth of recent Gallup Organization research looking at South Carolina’s arts-rich schools. It repeatedly shows a link between arts-rich learning and student hope and engagement. We have dreamed about having the kind of funding that would enable expansion to all communities throughout the state,” SCAC Board Chairwoman Dee Crawford
In addition to building on the work of the ABC Project, the Arts Commission will expand existing pilot projects with the South Carolina Governor’s School for Arts & Humanities
in Greenville and Engaging Creative Minds
in Charleston, and will offer grant and programming opportunities for arts education providers across the state.
“Arts and creativity are critical to achieving the knowledge, skills, and characteristics outlined by the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate. We are excited to work with grantees, statewide partners in arts education, and other arts providers to ensure equitable access to learning in and through the arts,” Platts said. “This partnership fully supports our mission to promote equitable access to the arts and support the cultivation of creativity in South Carolina.”
The SCAC is working now to release information on grant guidelines, research to support evidence-based practices, partnership and professional learning opportunities, and more in coming weeks. Starting in July, these resources will be available at www.abcprojectsc.com
Looking for an arts ed job?
Help out Engaging Creative Minds remotely
Apply soon! Target start date: Monday, February 15, 2021
The Hub would love
to help someone start the new year with a new gig. Frequent SCAC partner in the Lowcountry Engaging Creative Minds
is looking for a full-time administrative assistant who can—get this—work remotely during and after
the pandemic. Posting below is provided by Engaging Creative Minds and does not in any way suggest involvement with or by the South Carolina Arts Commission, which is simply sharing information. It is edited for style.
Engaging Creative Minds
(ECM) seeks an administrative assistant with a creative background to successfully support programs and operations
. This is a salaried, full-time remote position
. Only those with the qualifications listed below should apply. NOTE: This position will continue remotely even after the pandemic.
Duties and responsibilities are for primary support of ECM’s systems & operations coordinator for all virtual and in-person program delivery:
Qualifications of the Ideal Candidate Include:
- Communicating with ECM instructors, teachers, seasonal staff and coaches
- Comparing and reporting pricing for program supplies and materials
- Managing volunteers, as needed, to assemble program kits & work at Charleston Marathon
- Scheduling & organizing meetings for coaches, staff and board, when necessary
- Packing and delivering program materials and supplies
- Scheduling , filming (on ECM iPhone) & uploading to Vimeo ECM's virtual programs
- Entering invoices bi-weekly into bill.com
- Various other office assistance, as necessary
- Knowledge and experience working in Vimeo, Excel, Word, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Zoom
- Knowledge and experience working in bill.com
- Excellent communication skills (perfectionist in grammar and spelling a plus)
- Excellent organizational skills
- Experience with social media not required, but a plus
- Ability to shop for best pricing on program materials and organize multiple orders
- Must be a self-directed, self-motivated go-getter who can take the initiative to get things DONE!
- A passion for serving youth through the arts is a plus.
- Ability to work in-person when necessary to film scheduled ECM instructor programs during virtual learning
If you have these qualifications and want to work with a dynamic team of passionate arts educators and creative minds, please submit résumé and letter of interest telling us why you are the ideal candidate for this position to ECM Executive Director Robin Berlinsky:
- email your information to email@example.com
- OR mail to:
- Robin Berlinsky
Engaging Creative Minds
PO Box 31875
Charleston, SC 29417
Target Start Date: Monday, February 15, 2021
ECM is an equal opportunity employer.
Mission and purpose
Engaging Creative Minds (ECM) mission is to spark creativity and curiosity in all learners through innovative learning experiences.
ECM is an Arts Integration educational nonprofit based in Charleston. We work with school districts, principals, teachers and the local workforce to identify specific knowledge and skill sets all students should master before graduating high school. We hire and train local artists, STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) professionals and cultural organizations, called ECM Instructors, to work with grade level teams of teachers to support learning through the Arts. Our goal is for every student to achieve academically, stay engaged in school and succeed in life while their teachers develop engaging Arts Integration teaching strategies that foster collaboration, critical thinking, communication & creativity. Both teachers and students report that ECM is a powerful model of success.
Arts job opportunity: Engaging Creative Minds in Charleston
Engaging Creative Minds (ECM) in Charleston is seeking a full time Operations Coordinator to work closely with ECM’s Education Coordinator and oversee the operations of all in-school, outreach and summer camp experiences.
reports to the Executive Director and will work closely with Education Coordinator to fulfill the following responsibilities:
Email letter of interest and résumé to ECM’s Executive Director Robin Berlinsky: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Prepare and maintain updated paperwork and employee files for all full time, part time and seasonal staff, including interns and volunteers.
- Prepare, submit and manage all insurance paperwork, including workers comp annual reports.
- Manage all volunteers, interns and staff to ensure success at all outreach events, in-school programs and summer camps. Be Point of Contact for all volunteers and interns before, during and after events.
- Recruit and onboard new volunteers and interns for outreach, summer camp and Charleston Marathon (ECM’s annual fundraiser).
- Pick up the mail at our PO box and sort/distribute to ECM staff daily.
- Enter and track bills and employee mileage/reimbursements in bill.com.
- Enter and track Art Partner invoices and reimbursements in bill.com.
- General Office: Organize tracking systems for optimal efficiency, Point of Contact for landlord and all contracted work, including but not limited to, IT services, web hosting, equipment leases, legal (trademarks, etc.) and updated licenses for ECM and Charleston Marathon. Maintain inventory and purchase office supplies, equipment and furniture as needed.
- Order all program materials for in-school, summer and outreach events.
- File/renew taxes, insurance, memberships and registrations for ECM and Charleston Marathon.
- Work directly with facilities management departments and/or summer feeding programs to ensure streamlined operations during summer camps and outreach events.
- Work with the Director of Development, Strategy and Communications and Education Coordinator to manage and coordinate ECM’s volunteer responsibilities at the Charleston Marathon.
- Work with the Director of Development, Strategy and Communications and Education Coordinator to manage and coordinate school performers at the Charleston Marathon.
The mission of Engaging Creative Minds is to inspire the creative and innovative potential of all students to achieve academically and become imaginative, adaptable, and productive adults resulting in stronger communities and an increasingly competitive South Carolina workforce. For more information about ECM, please visit www.engagingcreativeminds.org.
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
Engaging Creative Minds of Charleston is hiring a part-time curriculum coach.
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
Knowledge and skills
- Completion and submission of the Arts Integration Plan (AIP) in accordance with designated due dates.
- Manages communication using a variety of tools to promote ECM’s AIP to school personnel and ECM designee throughout each experience.
- Assists with collection, submission and evaluation of surveys.
- Mentors, motivates and provides personalized professional development to each school’s grade level teams to strengthen arts-integrated lesson planning and implementation strategies.
- Experience with arts integration.
- Leadership experience managing and motivating diverse teams.
- Knowledge of K-12 curriculum standards.
- Effective communication and organizational skills.
- Bachelors degree in education.
- Flexibility in schedule.
This is a part-time job. Coaches submit biweekly hours. Salary $50/hour. Send resume and letter of interest to email@example.com
Engaging Creative Minds’ Summer STEAM Institute receives national recognition, donations
Engaging Creative Minds (ECM) of Charleston recently received two exciting phone calls. The first was from Microsoft announcing a donation of $15,000 in cash and $4,128 in Microsoft software in support of ECM’s Summer STEAM Institute. The second phone call was from the National Summer Learning Association, notifying ECM that the organization is a semi-finalist for the New York Life Excellence in Summer Learning Award.
“I am so proud of our team, because we are one of only 17 sites selected from all across the country to be a semi-finalist for this prestigious award,” said Robin Berlinsky, executive director of Engaging Creative Minds. “Then to be given this incredible opportunity from Microsoft to expand and improve our computer science and coding curriculum at all our camp locations is just amazing.”
Microsoft is also excited about the partnership. “In order to fulfill our company mission of empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, the Microsoft Philanthropies YouthSpark initiative is partnering with organizations that are empowering young people—particularly underserved communities, women and ethnic and racially diverse populations—providing them access to critical computer science education,” said Jeff Tozzi, Microsoft general manager, State & Local Government, East Region. “Together with Engaging Creative Minds, we can help more young people develop computer science skills that will prepare them for tomorrow’s global economy, regardless of their career path."
The New York Life Excellence in Summer Learning Award recognizes outstanding summer programs or models that demonstrate excellence in accelerating academic achievement and promoting healthy development for young people between pre-kindergarten and 12th grade. The awards are given annually based on an application process that reviews the program’s history, mission, goals, operations, management, staff development, partnerships, results, and sustainability. Interviews are conducted with a small group of semi-finalists followed by site visits to a select group of finalists to observe program activities before announcing the awards. Winners will be honored at the National Summer Learning Association conference in Seattle in October. “With Microsoft’s support, I believe we have a really good shot at bringing this award home to South Carolina,” said Berlinsky.
Engaging Creative Minds provides six weeks of arts integration summer camps for rising 3rd – 8th graders at St. Paul Elementary School in Clarendon School District One, thanks to a grant from the South Carolina Arts Commission. ECM also has camps at the College of Charleston and The Citadel.
Each of the six-week summer camps engages students in activities that support STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) curriculum. Campers work alongside professional artists, educators, cultural organizations and athletic providers to explore weekly themes like robotics and forensic science. Groups are small for more 1:1 interaction between adults and campers. “The goal is making sure every child is engaged, happy, and having so much fun they don’t even know they are learning!” said Berlinsky. In addition to the funding it receives from the South Carolina Arts Commission, Summer STEAM Institute receives support from Youth Endowment for the Arts (The Charleston Marathon) and Boeing SC.
The mission of Engaging Creative Minds is to inspire the creative and innovative potential of all students to achieve academically and become imaginative, adaptable, and productive adults resulting in stronger communities and an increasingly competitive South Carolina workforce. Engaging Creative Minds is a 501-c-3 organization.
Via: Engaging Creative Minds, National Summer Learning Association
Engaging Creative Minds seeks director of development and communications
Reporting to and in partnership with the executive director, the director of development and communications will spearhead these efforts as Engaging Creative Minds continues to grow. A new position in the organization, the director of development and communications will have the opportunity to build on our current efforts in public relations, brand awareness and fund acquisition and management.
- Develop and execute ECM’s strategy for annual fundraising plan
- Secure financial support from individuals, foundations and corporations to reach/surpass fundraising goals set by ECM’s board of directors
- Manage the implementation of fundraising software and oversee staff responsible for data entry and gift processing
- Develop and maintain ongoing relationships with major donors and school districts
- Create and execute a strategy for a large sustained base of annual individual donors
- Develop and manage special events
- Create and secure sponsorship packages
- Develop and track proposals, donations and reports for all foundation and corporate gifts
- Assist in preparation and management of annual organizational budget
- BA (required), MA (a plus)
- Five-plus years experience in nonprofit development
- Expert knowledge of fundraising techniques
- Knowledge of Raiser's Edge or similar fundraising software
- Demonstrated excellence in organizational, managerial, and communication skills
- Demonstrated ability to analyze information/situations and solve problems
- Ability to handle sensitive information discreetly and maintain confidentiality
- Excellent project management skills to organize and manage multiple projects/tasks simultaneously; must be able to work independently and collaboratively, and adapt to changing priorities
- Knowledge and interest in arts education
- Experience in and ability to assist director of operations with recruiting and management of volunteer staff
Email letter of interest with salary requirements and resume to Robin@engagingcreativeminds.org
Job will be posted until filled.
Engaging Creative Minds seeks executive assistant
Engaging Creative Minds, located in Charleston, S.C., is hiring an executive assistant.
- Provide daily administrative support to Engaging Creative Minds executive director (ED)
- Manage ED’s calendar, coordinate meetings, and emails
- Support ED with board and committee meetings, scheduling, sending documents and other duties as needed
- Assist lead instructional coach and director of operations with Engaged Learning Experiences (ELEs) in school, summer camp and outreach events throughout the community
- Other administrative duties as needed such as manage outgoing and incoming mail, answer and direct incoming calls, greet office guests, invoice art partners and creating PowerPoint and other marketing materials
- Provide clerical support including filing, faxing, copying, scanning, mailing and data entry primarily to the executive director, but also to other staff as needed
- Assist Summer STEAM Institute camp director with registration, parent communication, camp packets, daily morning and afternoon carpool, student groupings and summer payroll
- College degree preferred
- Minimum one to two+ years administrative experience
- Skilled in Mac and MS Office, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook
- Excellent organizational skills and detail oriented
- Ability to complete tasks accurately and efficiently, prioritize, meet deadlines
- Excellent communication skills -- both verbally and written -- with professional phone manner
- Ability to anticipate needs, be proactive, resourceful and flexible
- Strong people skills, including the ability to work effectively with ECM partners, principals and schools
- Team player with positive/easy-going manner to handle varied personalities, responsibilities and assignments
- Manage phones, calendars, schedules and conference calls
- Organize meetings and appointments
- Organize project implementation goals (status reports and confirmation of tasks completed)
- Promote teamwork and work well with entire staff
- Handle other miscellaneous duties, special events and projects assigned
- Be available some weekends and evenings
Please send letter of interest and resume to: Robin@engagingcreativeminds.org
Position will be posted until filled.
About Engaging Creative Minds
The mission of Engaging Creative Minds is to inspire the creative and innovative potential of all students to achieve academically and become imaginative, adaptable, and productive adults resulting in stronger communities and an increasingly competitive South Carolina workforce.
Crowd-sourced education: Engaging Creative Minds partners with Gaillard Center, Spoleto Festival, others
Editor's note: Engaging Creative Minds received a South Carolina Arts Commission Arts in Education Partnership grant to support a Summer STEAM Camp designed to combat summer learning loss. The grant was made possible by $1 million in new arts education funds approved by the General Assembly. The additional funds will allow the Arts Commission to expand arts education initiatives as recommended by the 2014 Arts Education Task Force, created to respond to new research and a new climate for education and arts education reform in South Carolina.
From the Charleston Post and Courier
By Adam Parker; photos by Brad Nettles
It began, as these things often do, with a phone call.
The phone call came from Chicago. It was Christine Taylor on the line, the director of education programs for the Ravinia Festival. She told Robin Berlinsky she had some newly minted bills amounting to $25,000, furnished generously by Boeing, that she wanted to spend on “Porgy & Bess” education initiatives, and, well, she figured that Charleston might be a good place to offer that programming. It’s the place where “Porgy” is set, after all.
Berlinsky, who runs the nonprofit Engaging Creative Minds, said, Come on down! “We’re going to open our community to you.”
Oh, and by the way, Berlinsky added, your idea happens to coincide with Spoleto Festival USA’s plan to present a new staging of the famous Gershwin opera, so, like, the timing is perfect.
That all went down last year, and the two groups rushed to forge their collaboration so they would be ready by the spring semester of 2015, when the “Porgy and Bess” production was supposed to be presented in the Gaillard Center’s shiny new performance hall.
When construction delays prevented the hall’s opening in time for this year’s Spoleto Festival, Berlinsky shrugged. It only meant they’d have more time to get things together. (The show will be one of Spoleto’s big 2016 productions.)
Since then, Ravinia and Engaging Creative Minds have been working hard to develop a unique curriculum meant to complement South Carolina’s social studies education standards. They will focus on eighth-graders throughout the tri-county area, as well as on teachers, to whom they will offer professional development opportunities.
Spoleto Festival staff wouldn’t comment on the “Porgy” production it has in the works but did express enthusiasm about the chance to extend the festival’s reach to young students.
[caption id="attachment_22257" align="alignright" width="250"] Dance instructor Heather Bybee shows STEAM camper Amari Ancrum and other campers attending the Engaging Creative Minds camp a dance move that mimics forces of motion.[/caption]
“Spoleto Festival USA is delighted to be partnering with Engaging Creative Minds in 2016,” General Director Nigel Redden said. “Although our 2016 program is yet to be finalized and announced, we look forward to collaborating with them and to provide an opportunity for Charleston schoolchildren to engage with the festival.”
Taylor said Boeing is the common denominator since it operates in both the Lowcountry and Chicago, and since it’s keenly interested in arts education. The company wants Ravinia to expand its outreach to other places where airplanes are made, she said.
Ravinia has developed a music education model it calls “One Score, One Chicago,” based on the public library’s “One Book, One Chicago” program, which strives to galvanize the community around a single title. (The Charleston Public Library has its own “One Book” initiative.)
“We started doing this in 2004 and we always felt it was the kind of idea that could take off in different places,” Taylor said.
Ravinia will bring a team of trainers to Charleston on Oct. 23 and 24. The trainers will work with local teachers to demystify classical music and “transform their understanding about how they can use music,” Taylor said.
The music of “Porgy” is so quintessentially American and appealing, it can help bring cultures together, she said.
Kids in Charleston will have a richer experience because they won’t just be entertained, they’ll be listening for chromaticism and its significance, or the “Summertime” theme and the way it’s used to foreshadow tragedy, Taylor said.
Teachers, instead, will learn to make musical instruments using found objects, sing in a chorus and, with eyes closed, sketch on paper the contours of a piece of music. In so doing, they will become more willing to engage with the music rather than sidestep it in favor of focusing only on literary themes, she said.
“It’s all about creativity,” Taylor said. “Teachers are the most creative people in the universe, they have to be.”
Engaging Creative Minds started to ramp up in earnest in 2013 and has since added key community partners and forged an important public-private partnership with the area schools. Its purpose is to enhance public school learning with arts-infused lesson plans.
The group deploys dancers, visual artists, poets and musicians to classrooms to give kids a chance to learn by doing, and to do things that are fun and fascinating.
The “Porgy and Bess” project is one of several efforts now underway, including a partnership with the Gaillard Center to develop more student lesson plans that have the arts at their center.
Tuning conductor Christopher Blair let the audience know what to expect. An invitation-only audience got an early look at the new Gaillard Center Performance Hall, where their presence made them an important part of an acoustic tuning concert in the still-under-construction facility.
Susan Antonelli, lead coach for Engaging Creative Minds, said “Porgy” provides a great opportunity to use jazz, show and Jewish music to help educate teachers who in turn can share insights with young students and engage them in Charleston history. And there is no reason why this new curriculum can’t be reused year after year, she said.
Other art forms, such as film and movement, also will be used and connected to specific 5th grade social studies standards, she said.
To inject its arts-focused lessons into the schools, Engaging Creative Minds depends on a variety of partnerships — with Annex Dance, the Charleston Performing Arts Center, Charleston Museum, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Charleston Stage, the Gibbes Museum, Storytree Theatre and several individual artists, among others.
Those partners learn how to integrate specially devised lesson plans with classroom curriculum, working with children in innovative ways to drive the lessons home.
“We’re trying not to work in silos,” Berlinsky said.
The newly reorganized Gaillard Center is getting in on the act, too, according to Rick Jerue, director of education, outreach and strategic initiatives. (Jerue sits on ECM’s board, and Berlinsky is a member of the Gaillard’s education advisory board.) The Gaillard will work with Engaging Creative Minds on the “Porgy” project as well as 13 other education outreach initiatives during the 2015-16 season.
The Gaillard will team with Greenville’s Warehouse Theatre on a “Hamlet” project; Chicago’s Theatre Unspeakable on lessons related to the show “American Revolution”; the Kennedy Center on a presentation called “Elephant and Piggy” for K-4 students; Richmond, Va.-based Theatre IV on a “Songs from the Soul” initiative that explores the significance of African-American music; Theatre IV and the S.C. Aquarium on a production of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”; New York-based American Place Theatre on “The Life of Zora Neale Hurston,” and more.
The Gaillard just hired Sterling deVries, a teacher at Angel Oak Elementary School, as its education coordinator. DeVries, who has lots of experience working with Engaging Creative Minds, said she will collaborate closely with key partners “to encourage teachers across all three school districts to incorporate arts into the classroom.”
All of the Gaillard’s projects will involve “teaching artists” and will be accessible to thousands of students, Jerue said.
The Gaillard, he said, needs to be a central resource in the community, and its partnership with Engaging Creative Minds helps it achieve that goal, “bringing people together to learn from one another.”
“There are a lot of people doing a lot of interesting things, but they don’t know about it,” he said. Better would be to collaborate more and leverage one another’s expertise.
“Over time, this will really strengthen the arts community,” she said.
Image above: Jonathan Gray, with Science Song Rocks, works with STEAM campers incorporating science words into lyrics and a musical tune during music class at the Engaging Creative Minds camp.