The Washoe County School District (WCSD) received a three-year Professional Development for Arts Educators (PDAE) grant award totaling $967,132 in fall 2009 with an increase of $89,000 this year.
The professional development offerings include art academies led by teaching artists from Sierra Arts Foundation. The artists work with teachers after school and in their classrooms for one hour per week for a total of six weeks.
The academies focus on language arts, math, science and social studies, all of which are paired with dance, theater and visual arts.
More than 120 district employees have received the paid professional development offered through the grant, which will continue through the summer of 2012.
“The idea of arts integration is not a new one, but has been gathering more support across the country as it gains recognition,” said Martha O’Neill, project director for the grant. “Although there has not been a great deal of empirical research to support the notion that arts integration boosts student achievement, there is evidence to support the cognitive gains and increased engagement of students.”
Teachers who have participated in many training opportunities have reported increased confidence in integrating art forms into their classroom teaching.
Jean Craddock, a teacher at Allen Elementary for the past six years, said when she was taking classes with an artist at her school last year, she enjoyed being able to learn about how to teach with the arts as students learned how to make geometric.
“It’s been really beneficial because students are lacking in the applied arts,” Craddock said. “I enjoyed learning from the artist in residence.”
In 2009, schools originally given the grant included Allen, Bennett, Cannan and Sun Valley elementary schools and Sparks Middle School. Palmer Elementary was added as a grantee this year.