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Partnerships with a Purpose

Posted: February 21, 2014, 10:25 a.m.,
by Maggie Jones.

In order to pursue a goal, there must be a purpose in mind. Whether it’s for the common good and well-being of humankind or for purely personal development, every goal has a purpose.

It takes more than just one individual to create an impact and achieve success. Efforts must merge together to form a unit with one goal, one purpose.

Partnerships for advancement are common in a world where knowledge and skills help shape success. Arts integration is a prime example of how two fields, arts and education, benefit from forming a partnership.

Knowing that the children of today will quickly become the leaders of tomorrow, many coordinators of education programs have taken the initiative to incorporate the arts into course material.

Sheila Kerrigan, from the Southeast Center for Arts Integration located in North Carolina, explained how this small organization impacts students through incorporating art techniques that meet school standards.

“The arts are engaging and stimulate much more of the brain than simply listening to someone tell you what to do, then trying to do it,” Kerrigan said.

One way to learn through art forms is to have students act out a figure from history through movements and dialogue. This type of art integrated lesson helps students learn by researching and writing their historic figure biographies and presenting to their classmates.

“Getting the experience in their body through acting out an assigned character helps to cement the memory and make it easier to understand,” Kerrigan said.

Educators can chose to take courses in arts education at the center to gain more insight in ways to incorporate the arts in their curriculum.

“A teaching artist,” Kerrigan explained, “is someone who is working as an artist and also teaching school.”

These artists have seen a lasting impression of their initiatives in
students’ ability to learn and remember course material. The passion in the center to advance student knowledge through artistic approaches is revolutionary.

The center is also one of many partners with the Arts Education Partnership organization. According to the AEP website it is considered “the nation’s ‘hub’ for individuals and organizations committed to making high-quality arts education accessible to all U.S. students.” It was established in 1955, around the time the arts were recognized as a core subject.

“The Arts Education Partnerships’ goal was to bring together the field of arts and education leaders to advance arts and help inform policies that support strong arts learning in schools across the country,” Laura Johnson, senior associate of communications and partnerships, said.

Organizations that form partnerships with AEP are generally national in scope and impact, and they agree to support AEP’s mission and goals. These partners are selectively chosen, share the idea that children and youth are a national priority and believe that the arts are an essential part of a complete and competitive education for America’s students.

The AEP has an important connection with the Council of Chief State School Officers as well. The CCSSO, its parent organization, provides insights into mandates and policies at a state level in its work with state-level education leaders. This relationship helps AEP set priorities for continued impact.

“This connection allows AEP to have our finger on the education pulse of what’s happening on the state level,” Johnson said.

A newer focus within the AEP community is a deeper cultivation of media organizations. Johnson has played an integral part in securing media partners to support the organization’s annual National Forums. Forming a strong relationship with media is important in elevating the national and local conversation about the role and contribution of the arts in preparing students for college, careers and citizenship.

“It is something we can continue to work toward,” Johnson said. “We must come up with ways to fine-tune who we are talking to and what the message is we are trying to convey.”

AEP is undergoing a strategic planning process with about 80 percent completed so far. There will be an implementation of new goals that will focus on three key areas driving state level priorities: higher expectations for learning, preparation and support of the educator workforce and transformations in the teaching and learning environment.

“Our research shows the arts support the skills that are demanded in a 21st century workforce, not only learning in the arts but through the arts,” Johnson said. “Arts instruction and arts-integrated instruction really do engage students and increase learning and achievement.”

Arts integration shows how collaborating efforts and building relationships can enhance the skills and knowledge of future generations.

These programs involve forming partnerships not only with each other but also the teachers, schools and students. The relationships formed between these organizations have fostered a long-lasting impact on students’ learning. It is inspiring to see connections like these created for the purpose of advancing education.

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