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Artful Learning Update: Breaking Ground

Posted September 27, 2022

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By David Jeffers | September 27, 2022

In Artful Learning, Level 1 Training involves introducing teachers and staff to the rudiments of the approach. This past summer, Level 1 Training took on some new elements. With four new schools on board, featuring new staff and new campuses, Artful Learning needed a fresh way to introduce a staggering amount of information and tools. For many schools across the country, this new academic year will be the most “normal” since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Artful Learning was mindful of the many unique issues at play.

Our Distinguished, Master, and Advanced trainers from the Artful Learning team set to work, reimagining the Level 1 Training, allowing for the delivery of over two dozen new Arts-Based Skills & Strategies.

The Artful Learning trainers at the Charles Burrell Visual & Performing Arts Campus. Aurora, CO. August 2022.

Each school’s administration enthusiastically approved the proposals. In addition, the Arts Based Skills & Strategies were customized to fit each state’s standards across language arts, social studies, mathematics, science, dance, theatre, music, and visual arts. It was quite the undertaking for the Artful Learning team; there were hours upon hours of preparation to ensure everything was perfectly aligned. At long last, it was showtime.

Left: Unidos Middle School staff are participating in the Arts-Based Skills & Strategies: Torn Art, Environmental Soundscapes, and Elements of Music. Napa, CA. July 2022.
Right: Unidos Middle School staff are using the Arts-Based Skill & Strategy, Tableau, to demonstrate their school’s mission statement. Napa, CA. July 2022.

The first stop was in Napa, California, to step into the world of Unidos Middle School— the latest addition to the Napa Valley School District, and Artful Learning’s first dual-language middle school. Students from Napa’s Willow Elementary (a preexisting Artful Learning “Legacy School”) can feed into the middle school after they finish fifth grade. By attending these two schools in the district, Napa Valley students now have the chance to enrich themselves in the Artful Learning model from kindergarten right through eighth grade. What is more, they can engage in their learning through Spanish and English! We are confident that students leaving Unidos Middle School will have acquired keenly advantageous skills for achieving success in our interconnected world.

Left: Burrell Arts staff are using chalk pastel while listening to music for the Arts-Based Skill & Strategy, Listening Map. Aurora, CO. August 2022.
Right: Artful Learning trainers pose in front of the Burrell Arts staff for the Arts-Based Skill & Strategy, QuickDraw. Aurora, CO. August 2022.

Next, the Artful Learning team dropped into Aurora, Colorado, to visit the two schools within the new Charles Burrell Visual & Performing Arts Campus. There is one campus for kindergarten through eighth grade, and another campus for high school. Aurora students can now benefit from fully immersing themselves in the Artful Learning model throughout their K-12 careers. In addition, the Charles Burrell Visual & Performing Arts Campus is the first Artful Learning school named after an acclaimed artist. Charles Burrell is a classical and jazz bass player who was the first African American member of a major American symphony orchestra in Denver, Colorado. Mr. Burrell is still alive today, at 101 years old! We know Charles Burrell’s legacy will be celebrated for years to come at this distinctive arts-integrated approach at this new school.

Left: Arkansas Arts Academy staff are cutting paper to create fairytale-inspired creations for the Arts-Based Skill & Strategy, Elements of Art & Principles of Design. Rogers, AR. August 2022.
Right: Arkansas Arts Academy staff are participating in the Arts-Based Skill & Strategy, Making a Machine, while linking it to a science standard related to energy. Rogers, AR. August 2022.

The third and final stop was in Rogers, Arkansas, to explore and invigorate the Arkansas Arts Academy. Artful Learning’s journey here has been years in the making. With the support and embrace of the Walton Foundation, Arkansas Arts Academy is the latest school to implement the Artful Learning model. Of the three locations we visited over the summer, Arkansas Arts Academy was the longest-serving school, and the staff members were well acquainted with one another. Yet we observed dynamic new relationships forming among the educators. Every person involved fully embraced the Artful Learning model, regardless of their predisposed notions of what arts integration meant to them.

Altogether, the Artful Learning team traveled for four weeks, to three different states, and to four different schools. Each school offered its own fresh take on the Arts-Based Skills & Strategies offered to them. The Artful Learning team was tremendously inspired by everyone we met, and we cannot wait to see how each of these unique school programs implements the Artful Learning model.

David Jeffers serves as the Project Coordinator for Artful Learning, Inc. and is based in Los Angeles, California.

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