–A Teacher’s Perspective–
It has been my great fortune to be the site coordinator for Art is Education at Luis Munoz Marin K-8 for two years. The goal of Young Audiences’ Art is Education program is to make the arts a part of every child’s education, every day. Luis Munoz Marin Elementary is one of eight Cleveland Metropolitan School District schools participating in Art is Education. We have a large school that includes approximately 100 teachers and 800+ students. Every student in our building has been involved with different artist groups provided by Art is Education for those two years.
There are so many success stories that I have observed at our school, and I wanted to share a few. Many of our students struggle with letter sounds, but through Art is Education we have discovered a kinesthetic method to cement sounds with the written letter. Last year our K-2 students (including our self-contained special education classes) worked with professional dancers from Verb Ballets to learn the alphabet and phonetic sounds through movement. The students loved it and amazed their teachers by writing words using the movements they learned. The first graders this year remembered the movements and were teaching the kindergartners to use the same movements. This year the K-2 students are learning new techniques with Dance Afrika Dance. Actors play different roles teaching students about letter sounds and numbers. The teachers are enjoying the activities as much as the students and the results are positive again.
Last year our 4-6th graders worked with Progressive Arts Alliance to create a documentary film about our neighborhood that was premiered at Lincoln West High School and Tower City Cinema. My students learned about videotaping, lighting, editing, and adding music to tape. They did research and storyboarded their ideas. We went with the artists to our library and the students took photos to be added to our video. Many of my students discovered that they had a gift for photography or lighting and are considering new careers that they never knew existed.
This year students studied musical genres with Roots of American Music. Professional musicians helped students record a CD of songs they wrote with the artists about ways to take charge of their personal finances. It was a great way to integrate Language Arts, Math and Music. Because of the excellent planning of the artists, the Art is Education programs ran smoothly and behavior problems were close to nil. Every learning style was addressed- there was movement, singing, writing, and instrument playing!! Many teachers have tried to use some of the exercises they learned from the professional artists to enhance their teaching, such as the use of vocal warm-ups to improve speech and incorporating music during writing activities.
There are so many other stories to tell about the other artist groups and students that have participated in our school-wide infusion of the arts. Art is Education is the necessary ingredient to involve all children across the curriculum and energize our classrooms. Everyone reaps the rewards- students, parents, teachers, administrators and the artists. I know that Art is Education has made a difference at my school, and I have visited other Art is Education schools and have witnessed the same transformation happening. Buildings beautified with student-made sculpture and murals and classrooms
are abuzz with the energy and the enthusiasm that art infuses. Art is Education has so much to offer to our students and the possibilities are endless.
–Kitty Merk, Luis Munoz Marin K-8, Cleveland