The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation announced it will award The Foundation for Educational Administration (FEA) $145,000 to provide district/school creative leadership teams with programming to design arts integration strategies in order to improve teacher practice, increase student achievement, and enliven classroom and school culture. This grant is part of $5.28 million being awarded to nonprofit organizations whose work in the arts, education, environment, and informed communities make life better for residents and communities throughout New Jersey.
With this funding, FEA will build upon past successes in long-term program implementation and conduct a series of targeted activities for selected school/district creative leadership teams. They will develop and/or continue arts integration strategies for use with the New Jersey Student Learning Standards in their educational settings.
Mary Reece, Ed.D., director of special projects for FEA, was grateful to the Dodge Foundation upon hearing the news. “Knowing that Dodge was reducing the overall amount of money it would appropriate for these types of projects this year, I was very happy to learn that not only did we receive a grant for 2017-18, but in fact, our grant was one of the largest amounts they are bestowing,” Reece said. “I think that speaks to the ongoing successes we have had in arts integration over the past several years and the recognition of how vital this is for our schools and our educational leaders.”
One of the most successful aspects of the arts integration initiative is the annual, three day summer institute in Princeton, NJ attended by approximately 225 participants. A keynote presentation and gallery walks supplement many workshops that focus on arts integration best practices across all five arts areas. This year, a teaching artist served as the “weaver” of the many activities and she was the catalyst that connected and synthesized the learning throughout the three-day experience. Teams are encouraged to bring a school board member in addition to a central office person, principal, supervisor, and teachers of the arts and other content areas.
A revised Arts Integration Users’ Guide for New Jersey Educators and Practitioners serves as the focus of this year’s work, and project outcomes will be collected and analyzed by FEA staff. “This User Guide was revised for the Summer 2017 Institute and will be further expanded as part of the this year’s project,” Reece said. “It has been extremely helpful to the participants in learning arts integration terminology and in defining the roles of arts integration in relation to arts education, arts enhancement, and STEAM.”
The communities involved in next year’s project will be similar to those of the 2017 participants with half of the 30 teams coming from high-needs schools, two of which are specialized schools for students with significant needs. In many schools, participation in this project has changed the culture of the school, improved student engagement, and enhanced teacher practice.