The Bucyrus City School District Board of Education enjoyed a special presentation from teachers, students and TeachArtsOhio visiting artists during its regular meeting March 16.
The school district, in cooperation with the Ohio Arts Council, is one of fifteen throughout the state participating in the TeachArtsOhio initiative. The program started during the 2015-2016 school year and is funded through the Ohio Arts Council, which receives funding from the State of Ohio’s biennial budget and the National Endowment for the Arts.
“The TeachArtsOhio initiative provides arts education opportunities for students by pairing teachers and professional teaching artists in residencies that convene from one semester to a full school year,” said Ohio Arts Council Executive Director Donna Collins. “The professional teaching artists collaborate with students, teachers, and community members through in-depth experiences that focus on the creative process of art making, aligned to academic content standards, in all arts disciplines.”
Resident artist Hal Walker has worked with students at the Elementary School to teach them to play instruments, including the harmonica, which Walker and a small group of third graders showcased during the Board of Education meeting.
“The kids love Mr. Walker,” said Elementary Music Specialist Sarah Martin. “Not a day goes by that a child does not ask if, or when, Mr. Walker will be here because they like having a ‘real musician’ in the building.”
Vicki Murphy has been working with students at both the Elementary and High Schools throughout the 2016-2017 school year. Murphy has been working with students in both buildings to create large tile mosaics, which will be on permanent display in both buildings.
“From the beginning of the year, Vicki has been working with the second through fifth graders on creating a massive Leader in Me tile mosaic that will be installed in the front office at BES,” said Elementary Art teacher Patrick Moore. “Vicki has had a wonderful impact on our students because she has taught our students the fundamentals of mosaics, highlighted other famous mosaic artists and shown the students exactly how to make a tile mosaic from start to finish.”
Nancy Kangas, the poet-in-residence at the Secondary School, has been working with students in Mrs. Shannon Henize’s English classes. According to Mrs. Henize, Ms. Kangas has created a safe, creative, writing-friendly environment in Mrs. Henize’s classes since beginning her work with the students. Laura Witten, a student in Mrs. Henize’s English class, shared a poem she composed during the board meeting about her positive experiences with Ms. Kangas in the classroom.
“Her easy, calm, inviting, positive, non-threatening manner fosters in our students a confidence and a willingness to try new types of writing, specifically in the form of poetry, a generally dreaded genre,” said Henize. “Thanks to the work of Ms. Kangas, I have learned more about my students through their original poetry, which helps me be a better teacher for them.”
The TeachArtsOhio initiative brings schools and community organizations together with artists to share comprehensive, engaging, personal, and sustained arts learning experiences.
“The Ohio Arts Council has a long history of supporting arts education in- and out-of-school, and we believe that arts education is at the very foundation of learning for all students,” said Collins. “Initiatives like TeachArtsOhio help us better understand the needs that teachers and administrators have when they seek to supplement the arts learning that is taking place in their schools.”
Other professional teaching artists, including Patricia Meeks and Dan Meeks, have been working with fifth grade and secondary students in Bucyrus, bringing their artistic and creative skills to make a positive impact in the classroom with students and teachers alike.
“TeachArtsOhio has given our students a unique opportunity to spend time with and learn from professional, practicing artists,” said Moore. “We try and teach our students as much as we can, passing on our knowledge in the hopes that they will develop their own personal style.
“TeachArtsOhio has given our students a different perspective through the resident artist, and then provided the means of executing their vision.”
The Ohio Arts Council is investing in arts education through local partnerships with teachers, students, teaching artists, school administrators, and local organizations and businesses in ways that support closing the achievement gap and increasing student engagement in and through the arts.
“The presentations made during the Board of Education meeting are a direct reflection of the positive impact the resident artists are having on students in the Bucyrus City School District,” said Superintendent Kevin Kimmel. “I want to thank Donna Collins and the Ohio Arts Council for giving our students and staff the opportunity to work with some amazing artists.”