With support from the Dana Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Nebraska Arts Council, the Lied Center provides training opportunities to teaching artists (TA) and provides in-classroom collaborations between K-12 teachers and TAs in rural Nebraska school districts. These unique collaborations have resulted in extensive residencies that provide embedded professional development for teachers and TAs, while also enhancing hands-on learning in the arts for rural-area students.
Annual seminars, led by Kennedy Center teaching artist Deb Brzoska, bring teachers and TAs together to reflect on the extent of arts and cultural integration as well as the impact on student learning. In 2011-2012 teachers and TAs focused on their work on evidence-based practice.
Goals of the Nebraska Teaching Artist Initiative:
This project provides professional development for both teachers and TAs to address issues relevant to rural-area, minority-majority communities. TAs discover culturally relevant teaching approaches, such as integrating language and culture, and address issues that affect K-12 students, such as access to resources, K-12 content standards and arts-based learning.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was originally designed to benefit at-risk students while including the arts as core academic subjects. Instead, NCLB has put pressure on schools to increase instructional time for tested subjects (math, reading) while decreasing time for other core subjects, such as the arts. Researchers note that this has led to a nationwide "narrowing of the curriculum” (Nat. Ed. Assoc., 2004; von Zastrow & Janc, 2004; King & Zucker, 2005). This often impacts schools differently in their capacity to provide high quality arts learning experiences. While some schools continue to integrate the arts, others, facing ongoing budget constraints and hard choices, may have to limit the role of the arts in learning.
Former Nebraska Commissioner of Education, Doug Christensen, described Nebraska schools as “two Nebraskas”—one Nebraska is in good shape and the other is failing its children and youth. One Nebraska has strong academics, low drop-out rates, good attendance and high graduation rates. Students in the other Nebraska experience have increased dropout, low attendance and lack of family involvement in education.
This program targets minority-majority schools and districts as well as rural communities with increasingly minority-majority populations. Current Nebraska communities involved include Crete, Lincoln, Madison, Macy and Winnebago.
The impact of arts education to improve academic and social outcomes for at-risk students is well documented in Third Space: When Learning Matters (2005, L. Stevenson & R. Deasy), and also in Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development (2002, R. Deasy, Editor). Both authors contend that, unfortunately, it is the very students who have the most to gain from arts-rich learning who are less likely to experience and benefit from learning through the arts.
This program aims to reach students/teachers at all grade levels, from pre-K through 12th grade, and subject areas. It is designed to meet the improvement goals of the school and the community involved. The Lied and its partners extend learning beyond "performance," into a meaningful and transformational experience for all students and teachers involved.
For more information contact Nancy Engen-Wedin by phone, 402.472.4707 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.