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Art Omi partners with Ellsworth Kelly Foundation to integrate arts into curriculum at local public schools

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Educators and program staff at Ellsworth Kelly’s Studio in Spencertown.
September 12, 2018 11:38 am

GHENT — The new school year is off to an exciting start for teachers and students in the Ichabod Crane Central Schools and the Taconic Hills School District, who have been chosen to participate in the 2018-19 Arts Integration Initiative.

Organized by Art Omi in partnership with and funded by the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation, this $100,000 grant-based project brings teaching artists and classroom teachers together to integrate music, visual arts, dance, digital media, and drama into existing classroom curriculum in an approach that aims to improve academic performance as well as important social-emotional outcomes, such as creativity, critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration skills.

Arts Integration is a research-based approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding of an academic subject through an art form.

Under the guidance of classroom teachers and teaching artists, students engage in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject area and meets evolving objectives in both.

This summer educators from the two districts participated in a weeklong intensive and learned valuable tools for bringing the arts into their classrooms. In addition to workshops with master teaching artist Thomas Lee and education specialist Lisa Donovan of MCLA, the teachers took part in hands-on art-making workshops at Olana State Historic Site, Art Omi, and the Ellsworth Kelly Studio in Spencertown.

Alyssa Kipniss, a first grade teacher from Taconic Hills Central School District, characterized the intensive as “the most interactive, engaging and informative professional development I ever attended,” and all were eager to bring this new approach into their classrooms this fall. “I have gained a new perspective on teaching that I know my kids will love,” enthused Allison Welch, a reading specialist also from Taconic Hills. “When students are inspired, there is no limit to what they can accomplish.”

By engaging in the arts integration process, classroom teachers gain the skills necessary to continue the approach beyond the term of the project.

“The aim is to develop a sustainable model, so that educators continue to develop creative habits that allow students to access learning from multiple points of entry and through multisensory experiences. Arts integration is not merely a teaching style, but rather, an ongoing practice of looking, seeing, wondering, thinking, and responding for both teachers and students in a creatively supportive environment,” said Sasha Sicurella, Director of Art Omi: Education.

“We are thrilled to be implementing this wonderful program of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation,” said Art Omi Executive Director Ruth Adams.

“The arts are an engaging pathway to so many areas of learning. Research has shown that arts education enhances children’s capacity for collaboration, and innovation, improves self-confidence, self-expression, and academic engagement. Our phenomenal education staff and teaching artists are eager to share their experience with our local teachers and students, to put arts integrated learning into practice.”

“The project begins with the premise that the arts enrich all our lives and should be an essential part of every child’s education, and arts integration is a highly effective way to fuse the arts with essential curriculum goals, particularly in the elementary grades.” says Mary Anne Lee program director for the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation. “Further, research has shown that this approach provides opportunities for all learners — even struggling learners — to be successful.”