(PRWEB) February 05, 2014
In southeast Kentucky, there is limited public school funding for arts and humanities, despite evidence that shows how such programs contribute to student achievement. How can educators respond?
One way is to integrate arts into other content areas. That is the focus of Union College’s Richland Institute for Professional Learning scheduled for mid-June.
“We recognize the importance of arts and humanities in the learning process," said Jason Reeves, Ed.D., assistant professor of education at Union College. "The Kentucky Department of Education does, too. They believe, as we do, arts and humanities are valuable in building both strong cognitive and social skills. Without adequate funding to address the need, however, we’ve all got a problem. This conference is our response.”
In January, the Lexington Herald-Leader earned broad coverage exposing funding inequities among Kentucky schools, citing more than an $11,000 per-student investment gap between the poorest and most affluent school systems in the Commonwealth.
The report identifies the independent school system in Barbourville at the low end of the funding spectrum.
“With the Herald-Leader’s report, an important problem has been uncovered, and we’re encouraged by that,” Reeves said. “But we’re also not willing to wait until the General Assembly addresses it. We think the issue demands a more proactive approach. Regardless of the funding balance, we know arts integration will only serve to benefit all students.”
Even if the political sector chooses not to narrow the funding gap, Kentucky public schools are mandated to document integration efforts. The KDE now requires that all schools submit program reviews documenting the progress toward providing “intentional and meaningful integration of the arts,” according to the KDE website.
The Richland Institute is designed to help educators comply with this existing state requirement, Reeves said.
The Richland Institute— a partnership between Union College and the Knox Arts, Crafts and Humanities Council—will provide educators and education majors with the tools they need to meaningfully incorporate arts and humanities into daily lesson plans for various content areas.
The conference offers workshops for integration, along with ready-to-use lesson plans that are fully aligned with the Kentucky Core Academic Standards and English and language arts, along with math and social studies classes. Lesson plan strategies are standards-based and field-tested, and participants will receive resources and learning techniques for creating their own integrated plans.
A unique component of this conference is that it will provide opportunities for current and future teachers to work alongside artists to implement strategies in real-world scenarios.
“We’re especially proud of this conference because it brings together emerging student teachers with practicing educators to co-teach under the guidance of respected artists representing various genres,” said Reeves. “Our plan is about as realistic as it gets.”
Kentucky Department of Education representatives will be present during the workshops, which will be led by a qualified faculty consisting of juried artists and veteran teaching artists:
Kids College Art Camp will be hosted on Union’s campus on the same days as the Richland Institute. Sponsored by the Knox Arts, Crafts and Humanities Council, Kids College Art Camp will offer meaningful activities and hands-on experiences for children during the same hours that the Richland Institute is scheduled. The college and the council hope that this will serve as a convenience to parents.
Both programs are scheduled June 16-18 on Union College’s campus. Fees are based on registration for attendance. Participants are not required to attend all three days.
For more information, visit the Union College website or contact Diana Mills, program coordinator, at 606-546-1620.