Education News

Houston Schools, Nonprofit To Expand Arts Education

The idea that the fine arts are integral to children’s education is gaining traction – and funding – in Houston.

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One of the singers with the Houston Grand Opera recently performed a new composition.

"I shall fight crime in my box," sang Teresa Procter, a mezzo soprano with the opera.

This special performance was not at a theater downtown. It was inside the library at Kashmere Gardens Elementary.

The author of the lyrics was sitting in the audience, Kania Rainey, a third grader.

"I just kind of thought of some things in my imagination and put it together," Kania said about writing her poem.

She recited a verse about her imaginary box.

"I will put in the box all my secrets of boys, all my report cards, all my memories and happiness," she said.

This kind of close-up encounter with the fine arts is coming to more elementary and middle students in Houston.

The Houston Independent School District is partnering with the city's Arts Access initiative.

Douglas Torres-Edwards, a curriculum specialist with HISD, said the new partnership will bring artist to campus for performances, workshops or other learning activities.

"So that students are be able to engage with them and their art in a one-on-one and authentic way," he said.

The pilot program has received a three-year $370,000 grant from the Houston Endowment to start at 11 schools: 10 elementary schools and one middle school.

The goal, though, is for all students to learn through the arts.

"Another piece to this is recognizing that we ought to infuse arts integration into the core academic curriculum," Torres-Edwards said.

He added that means incorporating creative activities into core classes like science.

Deborah Lugo, director of the Arts Access Initiative, reiterated that the goal is not to necessarily prepare students for professional careers in the arts.

She said arts in education can help teachers in the classroom.

"By singing it or by actually dancing it or by understanding how DNA works through a dance movement, you really are able to teach different students to learn differently through those tools," Lugo said.

 

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