The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts selected two Colorado Springs teams for its prestigious Partners in Education program, designed to assist arts organizations throughout the nation in developing or expanding education partnerships with their local school systems. UCCS Presents will work with Academy District 20 and the Fine Arts Center at Colorado College with District 11, representing two out of seven new teams nationwide. A primary focus of the Kennedy Center partnerships is to provide sustainable and robust arts-based professional development for teachers.
“I’m thrilled that our professional development programs for teachers will be enriched by this relationship with the Kennedy Center, ” said Joye Cook-Levy, education and outreach program director, UCCS Presents. “Our participation in the Partners in Education Institute will strengthen our upcoming collaboration with the UCCS College of Education as we invite Colorado Springs educators to join us in our Summer Institute for Creative Teaching Practice.”
While numerous studies point to the value of arts education in improving student outcomes, teachers may not have the resources, access, or training to implement arts integration across their curriculum. Strategic partnerships with professional arts organizations in the community can provide teachers with high-quality, arts-based professional development. This support connects teachers and students with access points for creative learning.
“The arts engage the whole child in creative thinking, collaboration, cross-cultural understanding and communication. It inspires and transforms students, supporting them in becoming life-long learners as well as future citizens,” said Mario Rossero, senior vice president of education at the Kennedy Center. “Essential to engaging the student is empowering educators with tools and skills to incorporate the arts into classrooms. Partners in Education not only assists with providing these tools but the learning experiences through the program foster and develop stronger collaborative relationships with the community. It is rewarding to see the impact on the students as teachers grow professionally through the arts.”
As an entry point for the program, representatives from the two Colorado Springs teams will participate in the Partners in Education Institute April 23–26 at the Kennedy Center in Washington. During the four-day institute, team members will develop a customized plan for how the partners will work together in their community to create or further establish arts-based professional development programs for area teachers. Teams receive a detailed planning guide, attend performances and meet with national education leaders and guest artists while at the Kennedy Center.
A variety of interactive workshops, presentations and classroom modeling demonstrations also will be offered to exhibit innovative and imaginative approaches to educating students. Information learned at the institute has proven invaluable to past participants who have left the Kennedy Center with more confidence in their ability to create their own professional development programs for teachers.
“It is a testament to our community’s support for the arts and education that two teams in Colorado Springs — each consisting of an arts institution and school district — have been selected to participate in the Kennedy Center’s Partners in Education program,” says Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. “This program will help promote and expand arts-based educational programs in the area, providing professional development for teachers and helping students foster imagination and creativity. Teachers’ professional learning is an essential component of any effort designed to increase the creativity and artistic literacy of young people.”
The two new teams from Colorado Springs join the nearly 100 teams from 39 states and the District of Columbia already participating in the Partners in Education program, now in its 27th year. In addition, partnership teams receive national support from the Kennedy Center through access to Center resources including its roster of teaching artists to work directly with the school and students; follow-up consultation and ongoing communication to assist teams in program and partnership development, as well as annual multi-day convenings and intensive seminars. For more information, visit www.kennedy-center.org/partners.
–By Michelle Winchell, UCCS Presents