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Jason Rapp

S.C. Governor’s School for Arts recognized for arts ed research

Link uncovered between drama curriculum and reading success


The Arts Schools Network Board of Directors has awarded the Research Initiative-Institution Award to the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities.

The award honors an organization for its commitment to ongoing research and the dissemination of knowledge in research in arts education. The Governor's School's research initiative, implemented by the Office of Outreach in partnership with the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) and University of South Carolina Department of Theatre and Dance, examines the potential impact that drama curriculum has on reading motivation and success for young children. Melissa Brookes, managing director for ASN, said, “Each year the Arts Schools Network board of directors take great pride in honoring and recognizing schools and individuals for their extraordinary efforts and impact throughout arts education. This year, we are thrilled to recognize the Governor’s School as the winner of our Research Initiative Award.” In the Spark! outreach program that this research is based on, at-risk third-grade readers attending the state mandated Read-To-Succeed summer program are exposed to drama principles in addition to their reading requirements. Now in its third year, Spark! participants are showing increased gains in creativity measures like fluency and originality, along with critical reading measures required by MAP testing, when compared to similar students not exposed to the drama component. “While we are only three years into this five-year initiative, the combination of creativity gains and reading gains together are what draws us further into this research, and we’re very excited to see these promising trends,” said Carol Baker, outreach director at the Governor’s School. “We’re grateful for this acknowledgement from the Arts Schools Network and for the ongoing support and participation of our partners, the South Carolina Arts Commission, who is funding this project, and the USC Department of Theatre and Dance, who is compiling and analyzing the data.”

About the Research

Dr. Peter Duffy, who heads the Master of Arts in Teaching program in theatre education at the University of South Carolina is leading this research which combines the qualitative measures of theatre making and creativity with quantitative methods of reading and motivation. “This research matters because it examines how story, motivation, and embodied learning through drama can impact a child’s desire to read, and how this component can affect the way young readers interact with their reading materials,” said Duffy. “We are studying how more creative teaching methods can motivate readers to really know the story inside and out. “Our research suggests that students who engage in the drama work make small but important improvements in their overall reading scores. Gathering five years of data will help us see whether these trends hold overtime, giving us a stronger impression of the real impact these programs can make.” The Spark! program was initiated at Kenneth Gardner Elementary in Williamsburg County School District, and thanks to two years of early positive findings, received increased funding to expand to Hardeeville Elementary in Jasper County School District. Both districts serve high poverty, rural, under-resourced populations and neither has a certified drama teacher at any level. Each school offers a multi-week summer remedial reading camp for rising fourth-grade students at risk of retention due to low test scores. The summer camp is part of the Read-to-Succeed program and is the last possible opportunity for these young students to increase their scores enough to move on to the next grade. How this research impacts arts education funding priorities “The Spark! outreach program’s research into the relationship between drama and reading in young, at-risk readers, provides compelling evidence of the correlation between creativity and reading retention,” said David Platts, executive director of the SCAC. “Working with Dr. Duffy and his team at the University of South Carolina and the SC Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities has demonstrated how these types of programs, while specifically designed to help students, also provide vital information for agencies such as ours as we analyze and prioritize our programming decisions. Good decisions and responsible stewardship of public funds are possible only with the availability of solid and meaningful research and data.” Getting students back on track “Ultimately, this is about improving reading skills and reading motivation of young students in South Carolina,” said Dr. Cedric Adderley, Governor’s School president. “We know that early reading comprehension is the key to success, and in this day and time, when we’re seeing reading regression in elementary school students due to pandemic-imposed virtual learning, we hope that programs like Spark! will be part of the solution to getting these students back on track.” “At the Governor’s School, we see first-hand how incorporating the arts into education can help improve student engagement, academic success, motivation, and hope for the future,” continued Adderley. “Now our challenge, as an arts resource and research center for teachers and students throughout the state, is to expand these proven programs to impact more students in need.”

About SC Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities

Located in Greenville, the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities cultivates young artists from across the state through pre-professional training in the areas of creative writing, dance, drama, music and visual arts. In the public, residential high school, students refine their talents in an arts-centered community while receiving a nationally recognized academic education. Summer programs are available to rising 7th-12th grade students. The Governor’s School serves as a resource to all teachers and students in South Carolina, offering comprehensive outreach programs designed to bring together artists, educators, community organizations and schools. SCGSAH.org

About the Arts Schools Network

Dedicated to excellence and leadership in arts education, Arts Schools Network, a non-profit association founded in 1981, provides arts school leaders, innovative partners and members of arts education institutions with quality resources, support and networking opportunities. Visit www.artsschoolsnetwork.org to learn more.
Image by Amberrose Nelson from Pixabay

Paul Taylor Dance Company visit an “infusion of choreography, master classes, and performance”

Paul Taylor Dance Company dancers will offer master classes and lecture demonstrations to dance students at USC, as well as to students from area middle and high schools. [caption id="attachment_15656" align="alignright" width="150"]Paul Taylor Paul Taylor[/caption] The University of South Carolina dance program will host the internationally acclaimed Paul Taylor Dance Company for a one-night-only performance, Wednesday, October 22 at the Koger Center for the Arts. The performance is sponsored by the University of South Carolina College of Arts and Sciences, the USC Department of Theatre and Dance and Richland One School District. Show time is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for 2nd Balcony seating, $35 for Grand Tier seating and $40 for Orchestra seating. Tickets can be reserved by calling (803) 777-5112 or by purchasing online at capitoltickets.com. One of the towering icons of modern dance, Paul Taylor has been a prominent dance artist since the mid 1950s and is considered by many to be America’s greatest living choreographer. Since its founding, Paul Taylor Dance Company has traveled the world, performing in 540 cities in 64 countries, reinforcing its historic role as one of the early touring companies of American modern dance. The New York Times has praised Paul Taylor Dance Company as “one of the most exciting, innovative, and delightful dance companies in the entire world.” The company’s Koger Center program will include performances of popular masterworks from the Paul Taylor repertoire, including Diggity, The Word, and Esplanade. “The dances we’re performing showcase the brilliance of Paul Taylor in a variety of dance styles and themes,” said John Tomlinson, executive director of the Paul Taylor Dance Foundation. “These dances – a combination of classics and recent masterworks – are a marriage of some of the world’s greatest choreography – performed by some of the world’s finest dancers.” For USC Dance founder and Artistic Director Susan Anderson, the chance to bring the renowned company to the University stage was one she couldn’t pass up. She says she has been in love with the choreographer’s work since her early days as a dancer in Irvine, California. “I was one of those ‘bunhead’ ballerinas growing up,” Anderson says with a laugh. “When I first saw the company in the early 1970s in Los Angeles, it was the first time I’d seen modern dance and I absolutely fell in love with Paul Taylor’s style. He’s extremely inventive and creative -- he breaks all of the rules and regulations of ballet.” This visit to Columbia will bring more than just a dynamic performance to the Midlands. During their stay, PTDC dancers will offer master classes and lecture demonstrations to dance students at the University, as well as to students from area middle and high schools. For University dance majors, the Paul Taylor connection has informed much of the Fall semester’s studies, as they rehearse Taylor’s famous Company B with former PTDC dancer Cathy Buck. Company B is scheduled for performance during the USC Dance Company’s 20th Century Masterpieces concert, which will be performed at the Koger Center November 6 and 7. Current PTDC performers will be present for a public critique of the student’s progress on Company B on October 21 from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. in the USC Dance Studios at 324 Sumter St. The rehearsal and critique are open to the public. Study of the Paul Taylor canon will continue for majors in USC’s Dance Education track, who will be creating educational packets detailing Taylor’s distinctive style, which they will distribute to area schools. “Having this infusion of Paul Taylor choreography, master classes, lecture demonstrations and performances is an outstanding way for our students to become very familiar with this very influential style of dance,” said Anderson. “We are truly grateful to Dean Mary Anne Fitzpatrick from the College of Arts and Sciences for making this performance possible, and for her vision for the arts at USC to be an integral part of the community.” For more information about the PTDC Koger performance or the dance program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush, bushk@mailbox.sc.edu or (803) 777-9353. Via: University of South Carolina Department of Theatre and Dance