Union College to Host Conference for Educators Focused on Arts Integration

Arts and humanities contribute to student achievement, yet funding for this type of instruction is widely unavailable in rural areas. This conference will help teachers integrate arts into various content areas.

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Jason Reeves, Ed.D.

Union College Assistant Professor of Education Jason Reeves will coordinate student participation in this upcoming conference focused on arts integration across the Kentucky Common Core.

We recognize the importance of arts and humanities in the learning process.

(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:

  • Dianne Simpson is a professional artist and juried member of the Kentucky Craft Market. She is a veteran professional teaching artist on the rosters of the Kentucky Arts Council, VSA Arts Kentucky and the Berea College Partners for Education. She is also a cultural researcher for Berea College.
  • Judy Sizemore is an arts education consultant for the Kentucky Center for the Arts, the Kentucky Educational Television Foundation, the Kentucky Arts Council and the Berea College Partners for Education. She is also a cultural researcher for Berea College and the University of Kentucky.
  • Mitch Barrett is a professional musician and recipient of prestigious songwriting awards, including the Telluride. He is a veteran professional teaching artist on the rosters of the Kentucky Arts Council, VSA Arts Kentucky and the Berea College Partners for Education.
  • Lesa Gieringer is a professional potter, owner of Powdermill Pottery and veteran professional teaching artist on the rosters of the VSA Arts Kentucky and the Berea College Partners for Education.
  • Alfredo Escobar is a professional artist and juried member of the Kentucky Craft Market. He is a veteran professional teaching artist on the rosters of the Kentucky Arts Council, VSA Arts Kentucky and the Berea College Partners for Education.
  • Bob Montgomery is a professional artist and owner of Wolf Gap Mountain Forge. He is a veteran professional teaching artist on the roster of the Berea College Partners for Education.
  • Susan Mullins (Kwaronhia:wi) is a Mohawk from the Kahnawake reserve in Canada, who now resides in Berea, Ky. She learned the traditional songs, stories, dances and crafts of her people from the Elders. She is a professional musician and craftsperson, specializing in Native American arts.
  • Octavia Sexton is a professional storyteller on the Kentucky Arts Council Performing Arts Directory and a veteran professional teaching artist on the rosters of the Kentucky Arts Council, VSA Arts Kentucky and the Berea College Partners for Education.
  • Malke Rosenfled is a veteran percussive dance teaching artist and developer of the Math in Your Feet and Math by Design curriculum and a writer/editor for the Teaching Artist Journal.

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.


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