Testimonial #3: Donald P. McGarry, Lead Software Systems Engineer for the MITRE Corporation

A teacher that touched my life…..
Arts education provides the opportunity for all walks of students to be able to explore their own strengths and weaknesses in an open and free environment. This type of open learning isn’t found in a traditional classroom setting, which allows students to take on greater challenges and responsibilities that they would be unable to explore in the traditional k-12 setting. These opportunities grow leadership, responsibility, and personal “ownership” organically and allow students of all levels to excel. These skills have aided me in my career as an engineer by giving me early exposure to task leadership, ownership, responsibility, group engagement, and has allowed me to incorporate an artistic component to my work.

The arts are re-igniting my community by….
Providing a needed cultural and social setting for students in the k-12 environment that is needed in education today. Each student in the education system needs to find their “niche” to grow into a responsible adult. Although not every student in a k-12 arts education program will go on to be a professional artist, many students from all walks find their “niche” in theater and arts education programs as an environment to engage with others, a common ground for learning and growing, as well as a social community to “fit in”. As programs such as arts education, music education, theater, and technology programs are cut, this eliminates this sense of community from these students and adds to the existing pool of students who “just don’t fit in”. This hampers their growth as young adults, and does the overall community a dis-service by not allowing them to grow and explore beyond the simple evaluation of “the three R’s”.

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