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…


Real farm life, at the intersection of arts and agriculture

by Amy Mayer, Harvest Public Media

“Art is to stop and make you think,” she said. “That’s the goal of what we do, right? Is to put something out there to change an image or to update a perception.”

Artists use their work to understand the human experience. So here in America’s breadbasket, many artists turn their eyes on Midwestern farming. The intersection of agriculture and art features a lot more than amber waves of grain.

In a living room converted to a theater for the evening, Ethan Peterson and Madeleine Russell portray the characters from Mary Swander’s play, “VANG.” In it, the actors share the emotional stories of four immigrant couples who farm in Iowa. Swander used transcriptions of conversations with Hmong, Mexican, Sudanese and Dutch farmers to create the play.

“I’d written another play called ‘Farmscape,’” said Swander, who is Iowa’s poet laureate and an English professor at Iowa State University, “that was a verbatim play, a sample based on interviews of people in all sorts of different areas in the changing farm landscape. And I worked on that with my students and it toured extensively in Iowa and the Midwest, out to New York, Colorado.”

The success of “Farmscape” helped propel “VANG” into more communities. And the reception the plays have received, especially in rural locales, has led Swander and Fred Kirschenmann, of Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, to consider how the messages of the arts might help bridge the chasm between farmers and consumers.  Read more…




Testimonial #37: Edwina Issa, BBO Jordan

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?

The availability of artistic opportunity is a key to igniting a life long passion. I think an artistic education is key to this as well winning my first talent show at five using a fire from within my spirit was so aided in the coming years by gifted teachers, the one that gave me the key to the theatre to put on my own plays, the one who taught me to use stage make up, the one who had been to RADA and read everything in role and transported me…. The youth theatre workers who trusted me to dabble.

The rep players who rented out our basement for a season and left the smell of the greasepaint, all created exposure to the arts in other forms. SO to inspirational teachers who exposed us all to plays and musicals or let us work in role or even did music and movement with us. We should offer thanks They took us to big cities on theatre trips and to the local theatres all of these lovers of arts set us on our way. If we got no further than putting plays on the lawn or in local halls it was a journey that would create a lifelong thirst and one that is never quenched.

Now years later having moved and living in a society where arts is for those that do not do that well at school and where any arts in the syllabus is cut to put in computing, I see the sadness of those who miss out an arts education and it is my mission to set that fire within them alight.

Every Child in Every School: A Vision for Arts and Creativity

City Arts Leaders push de Blasio on Instruction Promise

By Eliza Shapiro
More than 90 influential arts and culture groups are pushing Mayor Bill de Blasio to stick to his promise of providing arts education to every public school child in the city.

During the campaign, de Blasio said he would establish a four-year goal to ensure every child would receive arts education up to the state education department’s standards, with instruction by certified arts teachers. In her first few public appearances, chancellor Carmen Fariña has also said the city’s schools need more arts instruction. Last week, during her first official school visit to M.S. 223 in the South Bronx, Fariña praised the school’s principal Ramon Gonzalez for his work to help turn the middle school around, which included increasing arts instruction with federal funding through the Center for Arts Education’s School Arts Support Initiative.

City arts advocates say the new administration’s support for the arts, coupled with a new law requiring the Department of Education to provide data on arts instruction, signal a new era in the city’s schools.

Some of the city’s most powerful arts and education advocacy figures signed the statement, including Kim Sweet, the executive director of Advocates for Children who served as a member of de Blasio’s transition team; N.Y.C.L.U president Donna Lieberman; executive director of Alliance for Quality Education Billy Easton; and Karen Brooks Hopkins and Matthew Van Besien, the heads of the Brooklyn Academy of Music and New York Philharmonic, respectively.

The statement specifically calls for instruction in visual arts, dance, music, and theater by certified arts teachers, along with dedicated funding for facilities and supplies. “Far too many of our city’s public school students are not being provided access to a rich and engaging curriculum that includes the arts instruction they deserve and is required by law,” the statement reads.

“Every Child in Every School: A Vision for Arts and Creativity in New York City Public Schools” –is one part of a continued advocacy effort to ensure arts education is a priority for the new administration.

Testimonial #26: Tanisha Christie, Owner/Producer/Director at Aya Arts and Media

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?

The arts saved my life. I was a latch-key kid, an only child growing up in the city. Participating in choirs and theater in after-school programs not only kept me busy, but also helped me excel in school. Knowing as a young student that my good grades, gave me access to special field trips with the choir was an added incentive.

In high school, my English teacher, Mrs. Loucks, was also the Speech/Debate and Theater teacher. It is through her guidance, that I learned the value of leadership ( I was President of both groups) and was able to hone my creative abilities. Without that experience, that teachers support, those high school programs that were supported by the Principal and the School Board – I WOULD NOT BE WHO AM I TODAY. Those creative experiences during the tumult of teenage maturation, ground me and gave me an outlet that is of value to this day.

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

In the community of Brooklyn artists are abundant; however, the role of arts within lower income public schools are quickly diminishing. Now that we’re fully ensconced in the digital age, we’ve allowed technology to replace the idea that culture access is a fundamental part of critical thinking and engaged learning. Occasionally, a group of artists will ignite a small program, like a pop-up exhibition of visual artists in the neighborhood, but these initiatives are becoming less and less. But when it does happen, you’ll see young and old, from all different backgrounds congregating and participating in whatever activities are offered. Rarely is any event meagerly attended.

Aya Arts and Media
Against the backdrop of historical moments of social change, Walk With Me follows three women who use theater to inspire, stir and animate our democracy. While at work in prisons, schools, and community centers, the film reveals that one person – one artist – can make a difference.