by Ann Brown, Director of Arts Education, Tennessee Arts Commission
August means back to school for many. The smell of freshly sharpened pencils, a new box of crayons, and pink erasers are synonymous with a new academic year. For teachers, lesson planning, in-services, and organizing classrooms mark the beginning of school. As a former music teacher, all it takes is a slight shift in the seasons to remind me of marching band rehearsals, ordering recorders for elementary classes, and the excitement that comes with meeting new students for the first time.
As we embark on the new school year, I’d like to share ways the Tennessee Arts Commission (TAC) aims to bolster the arts in education through grants, programs, and tools to help educators as they plan for the year.
The Student Ticket Subsidy grant provides funds for artist fees, ticket costs, and transportation for students to experience a broad variety of cultural opportunities, arts disciplines, and artists.
Professional performances and exhibits as well as in-school artist residencies are listed on the Teaching Artist Roster. The artists and organizations on this roster are skilled at teaching their craft in an instructional setting and in offering high-quality arts experiences that connect with curriculum. Strengthen the role and contribution of the arts in supporting educators by collaborating with these roster artists to co-teach a unit or facilitate professional development for faculty.
Arts Education Teacher Training and Mini Grants are available for organizations and schools to provide such opportunities. Arts Education Teacher Incentive grants are also available for full-time educators and teaching artists to attend arts education conferences and workshops.
As classroom teachers and arts specialists prepare their curriculum units, consider incorporating lessons in arts integration that are shown to raise student achievement and transform the teaching and learning environment. The Tennessee Arts Commission hosts the Lesson Plan Database, which includes arts-integrated lessons created by Tennessee teachers. All lesson plans include arts and non-arts curriculum standards, assessment strategies, and step-by-step lesson outlines. This database continues to grow each year as teachers submit their ideas.
Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation contest presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation fostering the next generation of literary readers. Through memorization and competitive performance, students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. All necessary materials, including a standards-based teacher’s guide, are provided for incorporating a Poetry Out Loud contest into English, theatre, and forensics classes.
As we gear up for another year, let’s make the arts synonymous with education. For more information, visit www.tnartseducation.org.