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The Partners in Education program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is designed to assist arts organizations such as as the Lancaster County Council of the Arts.
Throughout the nation, these programs develop or expand educational partnerships with their local school systems and other community-building organizations; the primary purpose of which is to promote learning by teachers.
The Partners in Education program is based on the belief that the professional development of teachers is an essential component of efforts to include the arts in education.
The Lancaster County School District and LCCA created a formal JFK Center partnership in 2007. In 2012, the City of Lancaster became the third important component in this partnership.
Outside of the important work for professional development of teachers, our partnership works also on the belief that our community will only become strong when we nurture and strengthen valuable, productive, healthy relationships between business/commerce, education and arts and culture.
I’ve written about this relational triad in a previous column after hearing Sir Ken Thompson speak on this subject at a past Foundation For The Carolinas meeting .
David Platts, Lancaster County School District fine arts coordinator, Cherry Doster, marketing and development manager for See Lancaster SC and myself, form the local leadership group.
We’ve done some marvelous work these past years due to the strength of our partnership.
Examples include Youth Art Month each March, where hundreds of budding young artists, teachers, administrators, arts professionals, community builders and citizens join creative forces and paintbrushes to create the colorful banners on Main Street and huge, distinctive panels on the art cubes at the Springs House. There is also a youth art reception and exhibition to commemorate the month. Downtown Lancaster is vibrant with color inside and out as wintertime ends and spring draws closer.
The annual Nutcracker Ballet Performance, sponsored by the partnership, is another example of the organization in action. This holiday performance has grown to allow young dancers the opportunity to perform a beloved Christmas classic with a professional ballet company.
In 2012, we were proud to have 75 children and youth from our community participate in this performance. We could not have done this without a productive partnership.
Arts integration describes an approach to teaching and learning that uses the fine and performing arts as primary pathways to learning. This approach differs from long established arts education methods by its inclusion of both an arts discipline and a traditional subject as part of learning. An example of this is incorporating drama skills to learn about conflict in writing.
The goal of arts integration is to increase knowledge of a general subject area while fostering a greater understanding and appreciation of the fine and performing arts at the same time.
The JFK Center defines arts integration as “an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject and meets evolving objectives in both.”
In fact, there is a growing body of research that demonstrates how learners experience success when taught why and how to use music, visual art, drama/dance, theatre and the literary arts to both express and understand ideas, thoughts and feelings.
Organized by the school district, to date, there has been more than 30 arts integration institutes and workshops held in Lancaster County, with more than 300 participants. Witnessing the teachers’ new skills at the end of these sessions is truly enlightening.
The JFK Partners for Education Partnership has become a great thing for our community – now and for the future of our children.
A busy spring
March is another busy month for LCCA. We’re excited to share the opportunities available in Lancaster that you will not want to miss:
Arts. Take part!
Debbie Jaillette is executive director of Lancaster County Council of the Arts