National Arts in Ed Week!
Starting Kindergarten is never easy ... especially if you're starting Kindergarten in 2020! SPARK! Arts is celebrating National Arts in Education Week by adding a little color to our Kinders' lives. We will be giving out multi-colored pens to every MCPS Kindergarten student this week!

SPARK! Arts is partnering with Amy Coseo of Studio Verde to bring you an incredible Arts Advocacy Workshop,
The Power of Story in Arts Advocacy on September 18.

Email SPARK! Arts Director, Sienna Solberg if you are interested in attending.
51 Benefits of Arts Education for kids

"Arts Education in schools is currently teetering on a precipice.

Overwhelmingly, parents feel that the Arts play a vital role in their children’s education. And yet, at the very same time, schools are under pressure to funnel their dwindling educational resources into a purely “academic” curriculum, focusing on math, literacy, and science.

It’s time to take a stand.

For one thing, learning arts improves academic achievement, and there are plenty of studies that show this. (Yes, some of these lack scientific rigor but this only highlights the need to invest more in robust research.)

More importantly, though, kids immersed in arts get the opportunity to experience the world, and themselves, in a different way; one that cultivates cognitive abilities, nurtures positive character traits, and fosters critical thinking."

If you’re still not sure, here is a list (backed up by studies) of 51 ways that Arts Education rewards children from
MPCS Celebrates National Arts in Education Week with the hiring of new elementary
art teachers!

MCPS is pleased to announce that we were able to fulfill a long-term goal of providing more art teachers in our elementary schools this year. Ariea Berry was selected to fill our new permanent full time art teacher position. Ariea brings a wealth of experience to the position as she has filled in during several yearlong leaves for district art teachers, as well as worked on the Mall Art Show. She has also taught the MCPS Summer Art Camp in the past. While the District is in Phase 1-2, she will be assigned to Chief Charlo Elementary school.

In addition to the permanent hire, we also used Cares Act funding to hire three temporary art teachers to support the cohort grouping needed in grades K-5. Keila Cross, Nathan Day and Adriana Reid are assigned to Paxson, Franklin and Russell elementary schools through the first semester. These wonderful teachers will provide great experiences and have a significant impact on our students during this time.

Once the district moves to Phase 3, our four permanent art teachers will return to their rotation schedule, providing art lessons at all nine elementary schools.

Monte Grise
MCPS Fine Arts Supervisor
Unchartered territory causes uncertainty, but it can also provide opportunity for creativity to thrive. This year, the Missoula arts education community was quick to creatively pivot programming to continue to effectively reach children. Missoula County Public Schools arts educators found ways to engage students with drive through art supply pickups, virtual choir performances for graduation, quarantine raps, lip sync battles and increased elementary visual art lessons; The Clay Studio of Missoula created online lessons and clay kits; MCT’s Playdate inspired families across the country to produce a play at home; Missoula Writing Collaborative created a Cabin Fever Survival Guide with kids’ poetry activities; Montana Repertory Theatre transformed their Educational OutReach play, Zombie Thoughts, to screen at Ogren Field; SPARK! Arts teaching artists created social and emotional arts resources for students, teachers and families, and collaborated with MCPS to distribute 775 art kits to students; Tell Us Something created online storytelling workshops; Turning the Wheel hosted virtual movement events to support social and emotional health; and ZACC recruited Kindergarten Monster Makers to continue their Missoula Monster Project tradition. The creativity continues this fall while Big Sky Film Institute is partnering with Indian Education Specialists and Indigenous filmmakers to debut an online documentary filmmaking 101 course for students and teachers; MAM’s Museum as Megaphone allows students to visit and interact with the museum virtually; and The Roxy will turn Kiddomatic into a virtual children’s film festival in November.
These are challenging times. Yet, there is no doubt that the unifying power of the arts will continue to prevail and carry us forward, through the uncertainty to a brighter world. Especially, here in Missoula, Montana, because #weARTinthistogether.

Tom Bensen
Arts Missoula Executive Director

Sienna Solberg
Director of SPARK! Arts Ignite Learning
SPARK! Creativity at Home!
SPARK! Arts Teaching Artists have been working hard to create comprehensive resources for the school community (families, students, & teachers) that focus on social and emotional health, including the core competencies from CASEL

The arts are more important than ever, as they provide a creative outlet for people to process, heal, manage stress, identify our emotions and care for self. 

Please join us, and SPARK! Creativity at Home
by exploring social-emotional learning through the arts!

Happy learning!
Local Arts Ed Opportunities
The Missoula Art Museum is ready to support teachers, parents, and caregivers who want to incorporate art into their fall curriculum. No matter what your child or student’s school plan is, MAM is here to help! Museum as Megaphone is a virtual arts education platform created in partnership with Inspired Classroom and it’s free! Each course is based on a contemporary art exhibition at the museum and include diverse themes that meet Montana’s Core Standards in Social Studies, English/Language Arts, and Indian Education for All (IEFA). Applicable for elementary, middle, and high-school students. Click here to learn more or email Kay Grissom-Kiely, Curator of Education, for more information!
ART: YAAP! The Young Artist After-school Program is ideal for creative kids who want to take their skills to the next level. Participants learn to build relationships and forge community connections, and their self-esteem gets a big boost. Our YAAP camp makes learning art FUN! With programming in book making, stop motion animation, drawing, painting, clay and more... there's something for everybody! Visit for more info!

Music: The Alternative Music Program (AMP) is ideal for musical kids who want to take their skills to the next level. Participants learn to build relationships and forge community connections, and their self-esteem gets a big boost. Our AMP camp makes learning music FUN! Read more here!
MCT is excited to announce that registration is open for all of its local children’s programming, beginning with the fall production of The Wizard of Oz. Rehearsals will be conducted every Tuesday and Thursday from Oct. 13-29 and every day (Monday-Friday) from Nov. 2-6. The performance will take place Friday, Nov. 6.

Open to ages K-12, The Wizard of Oz experience is a rehearsal process for a musical performance of MCT's original, newly revamped version of The Wizard of Oz. All registered students will participate in an audition, receive an age-appropriate role, attend specific rehearsals, and perform in the final production.
Differing from many of MCT's local production classes, participants will only attend rehearsals required for their character, and therefore may not be called for every session. A detailed rehearsal schedule will be distributed at the conclusion of the audition. Those registering must have a clear schedule to attend all rehearsals required for their role and be available for the scheduled performance on November 6. Registration is limited to 40 students.

All current safety protocols of social distancing, wearing masks, frequent hand washing, and sanitizing of the facility are in place, for the safety of The Wizard of Oz participants.

Register at Questions can be directed to Please note that all dates and times are subject to change.
Free classes/workshops for students in grades 3-12 beginning the last week of September.

This fall we are pleased to be able to offer a variety of extracurricular writing workshops and classes both in-person and on Zoom. Whether your student is enrolled in the Montana Digital Academy, taking classes in a hybrid model online and in person, or homeschooling, these classes will give students a chance to express and share their interior lives through creative writing. The classes are all taught by one of our professional writers and will be modeled off our 12-week poetry residencies.

In person classes will be held at Greenough Park or Fort Missoula and will be primarily held outside. Classes will be moved to a nearby indoor location during inclement/cold weather. Students and instructors will need to wear masks and abide by social distancing. Spaces are limited to ten participants per class. To make these classes accessible to all students there is no fee for these classes. These classes will fill up quickly! Sign up through Submittable!

Classes Offered:
All 8-week classes for 1 hour a week unless specified
3-5th Grades
  • Music, Movement, and Poetry// Caroline Keys // Wednesdays at 3p.m starting 10/14// Greenough Park
  • Outdoor Writing // Emily Withnall // Mondays at 4p.m. starting 9/28// Greenough Park
  • Poetry//Mark Gibbons//Tuesdays at 3p.m. starting 9/29 for 6 weeks//ZOOM
6-8th Grades
  • Fiction//Caroline Patterson//Wednesdays at 4:15p.m. starting 9/30//Greenough Park
  • Poetry//Julie Stevenson//Thursdays at 4:15p.m. starting 10/1//Fort Missoula
  • Penning the Pandemic// Emily Withnall /Thursdays at 3p.m. starting 10/1//ZOOM
9-12th Grades
  • Fiction//Robert Lee //Thursdays at 3p.m. starting 10/1//Fort Missoula
  • Nonfiction//Emily Freeman//Wednesdays at 4p.m. starting 9/30//ZOOM
Tangled Tones Music Studio has a wide array of Fall/Winter music class offerings!! Visit the website for a full listing of opportunities both outdoor classes and Zoom classes.

Support SPARK! Arts
SPARK! Arts relies on donations from supporters like you to ensure equal access to arts integrated learning for ALL our K-8 students. Please consider making a donation to SPARK! Arts today!