Opening Doors to the World Through Art
The arts are a fantastic way to delve into other cultures! The arts reflect values, traditions, and lifestyles; by experiencing the art forms of another place, we gain a new understanding and appreciation for culture and people. Many Missoula students have never set foot in foreign lands, but many of them get to move their feet to learn about them!
SPARK! partners with artists who share expertise in cultural arts with MCPS students. Fifth grade students at Lewis and Clark learned a Cuban dance with Jennifer Corbin; Seventh grade students at Meadow Hill learned Latin dance with Heather Adams. As the students move their feet to the rhythms, they also practice social skills and language skills connected to the dance forms.
Several African countries influence the arts within Missoula. SPARK! Partners with Unity Dance and Drum, The Drum Brothers, and Djebe Bara to bring African music and dance to MCPS classrooms. Tarn Ream of Unity Dance and Drum focuses on sharing the ethnic origin and traditional purpose for the dances she teaches students. A middle school student commented, "I think having a chance to dance in school is a good idea because students can experience how other cultures do things." - EW
The Drum Brothers are currently visiting every first grade classroom, allowing young students to learn traditional rhythms on djembes and to create dances connected with traditional planting and harvesting dances.
Also, Arts & Above shares culture through dance and movement, as Bruno Augusto shares Capoeira from his childhood in Angola.
Music and dance from Asia have also found a home in Missoula. Music teacher Dorothy Morrison teaches traditional Indonesian gamelan at Lewis and Clark Elementary School. "I teach K-5 music and each year we have a month-long unit using a Balinese Gamelan (four-note percussion orchestra from Bali, Indonesia). The entire school, K-5, enjoys the hands on opportunity to use the beautiful hand-carved instruments painted red and gold with elaborate designs. The students play gamelan music, learn dance moves and explore the culture of Bali. You can feel the joy and excitement when the instruments arrive. "I have heard more than once at the beginning of a school year, 'When do we get to play the gamelan?' When I first started, I had no idea what a powerful teaching tool the ensemble would be. Now I know it will be what most students remember about their elementary music and me," Dorothy says. Over the past 2 years, SPARK! has partnered with Dorothy to extend the impact of guest musicians and dancers from Bali to additional elementary schools.
Janiana Vieira-Marques, a visual artist from Brazil, brings facets of her culture and life experience when she teaches SPARK! Arts residencies. She recently worked with 40 high school students to create shoe sculptures that represent their identities. Students were able to glean the differences and similarities between Janaina's life experiences in Brazil and theirs in the United States.
Students also have access to the rich and diverse cultures within their own neighborhoods. SPARK! collaborates with several Native American artists who share traditional dance, storytelling, and visual arts. This fall, Cecil B. Crawford of the Blackfeet Tribe, shared stories and visual art with eighth grade students at Meadow Hill. Students created their own origin stories and art with Cecil. Of the residency, one teacher shared, "In my 26 years of teaching, this is the most amazing activity I have ever been a part of. Thank you for this opportunity."
Arts are an engaging, creative, hands-on avenue for learning. When world cultures are infused, the door swings wide open to let in cultural understanding and empathy. SPARK! is honored to be able to work with so many artists who spark a positive curiosity about our world.
SPARK! Represents at the Any Given Child Exchange
Each year, Any Given Child Initiative communities gather to share successes and challenges and work toward increased impact together.
As defined by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts:
The primary goal of the Kennedy Center's Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child program is to assist communities in developing and implementing a plan for expanded arts education in their schools, ensuring access and equity for all students in grades K-8. Although the initiative provides a structure for work to be accomplished, the Kennedy Center understands that every community is unique, and tailors the consultation and facilitation to each site.
The Kennedy Center brings to this initiative more than three decades of work with thousands of students, teachers, principals, school district administrators, business leaders, and arts managers across the country.
Equity in and access to a strong arts education remains an issue for too many students.
For most young people, access to arts education during their school years is sporadic and uneven. They may have access during some years and none during others. When they do participate in arts education, students may have uneven access to content-learning in or through some art forms and not others. Additionally, equity is an issue. Students in some schools have less access to arts education than students in other schools.
A strong district arts education plan is achieved when all students, in Kindergarten through grade 8, have ongoing and equal access to learning in and through all the arts-dance, music, theater, visual arts, and media arts.
SPARK!/Any Given Child Missoula is now one of 25 communities across the nation working to create full a
ccess to and equity in arts education programs and resources for students. This year, MCPS Executive Director Julie Robitai
lle and Fine Arts Coordinator Liddi Elrod joined SPARK! Director Jackalynn Snow at the AGC Exchange.
Topics covered at the 2018 Any Given Child Exchange included:
Trauma-based Learning and Resilience, Arts Education,
Culturally Responsive Teaching,
Fundraising and Marketing,
Arts Integration Training/Professional Development
Some of the highlights that SPARK! was proud to share included:
The upcoming Montana Arts Integration Conference this June. Also, t
he Teacher Liaison role in our schools, and how that has helped our programs and communication, o
ur data collection tools, o
ur SPARK! Showcase Event, a
ll K-8 teachers being trained in arts integration, o
ur partnership with the University of Montana, e
very K-8 classroom having arts integrated residencies, e
very K-8 grade level accessing arts enhancement events and d
eveloping High School arts integration programs.
Our team left with a long list of wonderful ideas from the AGC Exchange. In addition, representatives of WolfBrown will visit Missoula as part of an intensive case study of the impact of the
Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child Initiative