The First 100 Stories Campaign

The Arts continue to be cut from school curriculums across the nation. Despite arts advocacy groups’ efforts to prevent the decline of arts inclusion, the budgetary solution remains to be that the arts are perceived as extra-curricular and disposable.  In Chris Cleave’s novel Little Bee, the central character decided to right a wrong by collecting stories:  “One story makes you weak.  But as soon as we have one-hundred stories, you will be strong.” Similarly, we can do the same for the Arts.  Here’s how:

First Online with Fran is launching The First 100 Stories Campaign.

Let’s hear it from you: Teachers! Students! Graduates! Parents! Artists!

How has your life been indelibly touched by a teacher who utilized the arts for whatever reason and acknowledge how they were instrumental in breaking the mold to allow you to become who you are today? Click here.

How are the arts re-igniting your community and sparking innovation and creativity in your local schools? Click here.

Here’s the first testimonial…contributed by one of my favorite high school students…

Testimonial #1. Edie Falco, Tony-Award winning Actor

“Fran McGarry and Eve Terry, perhaps unbeknownst to them, played a huge part in my path to my present career. Though I was just a school kid, they treated me like an artist; made me believe I had something unique to offer. They helped grow my confidence which I believe can take you anywhere you want to go. I am so grateful.”

What’s your story?  First Online With Fran wants to hear what you have to say…

National Arts in Education Week


AEP-Logo-2[1]In July of 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution #275 designating the second week of September as National Arts in Education Week. The resolution expressed congressional support for arts education:



Whereas arts education, comprising a rich array of disciplines including dance, music, theatre, media arts, literature, design, and visual arts, is a core academic subject and an essential element of a complete and balanced education for all students.

Forty-nine states and district of Columbia have adopted standards for what students should know and be able to do in the arts. In addition, 45 states require, by law, that elementary schools in their state provide arts instruction.  And 26 states define the arts in statute or code as a core or academic subject.  Given these facts, then, why do so many education leaders and school officials still treat the arts as extracurricular, extraneous or expendable when making school staffing and funding decisions?  How do we explain the “policy paradox” of strong policies for the arts in education at the state level but weak implementation of those same policies at the school level?  Let’s see more stories where the commitment from the state house to the school house has produced a coordinated strategy and decisive actions to ensure that all students receive a complete and balanced education that includes the arts as an essential component.

Here’s How to Get Involved!



The Survivor Tree Poem: Arts Advocating Healing

“There is nothing so bad that we cannot survive it.”

The Survivor Tree is a children’s poem on behalf of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. It’s the story of a lone pear tree at the World Trade Center that miraculously survived the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11. Discovered in the rubble by recovery workers and nursed back to health, the Survivor Tree has become a metaphor for hope and the resilience of the human spirit.


Another testament to The Arts and its healing powers.

Commemorating the 13th Anniversary of 9-11

Today, we honor the thousands of innocent men, women, and children who were taken from us too soon thirteen years ago. At the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, we will read their names aloud. We will stand together in silence at six moments, marking when the Twin Towers were struck, the buildings fell, the Pentagon was attacked, and Flight 93 crashed in a Pennsylvania field. Together, we will remember the devastating loss and reflect on the preciousness of life.

How you choose to observe the 9/11 anniversary is personal. Whether through quiet reflection or prayer, acts of service, or sharing a message of remembrance through social media, please join me in memorializing those who were killed and the sacrifices made on this day eleven years ago.

Visiting the 9-11 Memorial Site is truly an inspirational experience in so many ways. The solitude, solace, serenity and sheer beauty of being one with the elements is spiritually uplifting. I felt as if I became part of a canvas, similar to Seurat’s vision in Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park With George: an aesthetic coalescence of art and reality. It truly was – IS – a testament to those lives lost on September 11, 2001.

Thank you to all those people whose efforts to make this hallowed ground a spiritual retreat for everyone to reflect, remember, and realize the sacrifices made by those we honor.

We will never forget.

How do the arts serve humanity as reminders of lessons lost and learned?


At STEAM Schools, Arts Are Woven Into The Curriculum

The idea behind STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts and math – is to find ways to integrate the “A” into all class subjects, believing the fusion of arts and science gives students an edge to create and innovate.  Like STEM, it’s more a philosophy than a specific curriculum, emphasizing connections across subject areas and teaching kids to take what they’ve learned in one classroom and apply it in another.

“The arts should share equal status with STEM subjects,” says art teacher Kathy Pugh. “It has to be presented to the kids that it’s not an extra, that it is as important of a subject as your math,” she said.

How did arts integration impact your education?


StateImpact Ohio’s Amy Hansen takes us to Canton to introduce a STEAM school, a relatively new – and unproven – model that encourages students to innovate with an artistic touch.  Read more…