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GaDOE recognizes five schools with new arts integration award

June 29, 2020 – The Georgia Department of Education has recognized five schools with its new Creative School Arts Integration School of Excellence Award.

This year's winners are Powder Springs Elementary School and Labelle Elementary School in Cobb County Schools, Coleman Middle School in Gwinnett County Schools, Kay Pace School of the Arts in Clayton County Schools, and Henderson Mill Elementary School in DeKalb County Schools.

The winners are schools where all students have access to arts integration in every subject and there is both rigor and relevance in the arts integration programming. Arts integration professional development is ongoing, the program is well-organized, and the school involves the community in the arts. 

“We believe the arts are an essential part of a well-rounded education, that they are valuable on their own and that they enhance learning in other subject areas," State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “This award recognizes schools who are going above and beyond to integrate the arts into their students' day-to-day learning experience." 

All Georgia public schools were invited to apply for the award.

Arts integration allows students to synthesize content and create new meanings, ideas, and solutions. The purpose of the Creative Schools arts Integration School of Excellence award is to promote arts integration as a way to increase engagement and learning in and out of the arts classroom. 

“We are thrilled to be able to recognize these schools for their dedication to providing both high-quality arts integration in all subject areas, and arts education to students," GaDOE Fine Arts Manager Jessica Booth said.

School Spotlights

Coleman Middle School
Coleman Middle School utilizes a whole-school model for arts integration through grade-level project-based learning (PBL). Arts integration is thoughtfully utilized depending on each grade level and each project every quarter.

For example, eighth graders at Coleman visited the High Museum this year and viewed specific exhibits that helped them answer the question, “How can I artistically share my vision for Georgia's future based on the stories of Georgia's past?" Students developed and showcased their own works of art to answer this question.

All students take elective art courses and have the option to participate in an art club, theater productions, and school talent show; and to showcase art during literacy night, compete in the county's arts showcase, try out for the annual Duluth's Got Talent competition, and participate in the Duluth Art Walk.

Henderson Mill Elementary School
As the Georgia Department of Education's first STEAM-certified school, Henderson Mill Elementary prioritizes the fully daily integration of the fine arts into all content areas. Through a partnership with the Alliance Theatre Arts Education Institute, teaching artists visit every class multiple times each year and equip teachers with theatrical concepts to use in the classroom, such as scriptwriting, creative movement, music, tableau, costuming and more.

At Henderson Mill, where 47 percent of students have a second language at home and 29 percent receive ESOL instruction, the fine arts have served to bring the school community together.

“By integrating the PBL and the arts into our daily work, we have removed the language-learning barrier for a significant part of our school population, giving everyone a universal language that can be used in many ways to learn and demonstrate learning," school staff wrote in their application. “For example, second graders at HMES might be found creating a mixed media map while learning about topography; kindergarteners create a song about community helpers; first graders act out the water cycle through use of tableau." 

Kay Pace School of the Arts
At Kay Pace, dance, drama, instrumental, voice, and visual arts teachers collaborate with academic teachers in grades K-5, leading professional development opportunities and sharing resources that promote arts integration. Core content teachers are trained to incorporate arts activities and use strategies such as tableaus, reader's theater, creating art from different types of media, and creating songs to assess student learning.

Every student has a major in drama, dance, visual arts, instrumental music, or vocal music and participates in fine arts clubs, competitions, exhibits, and/or performances. The school puts on a yearly musical, which everyone works collaboratively to create. attend yearly STEAM workshops at the High Museum of Art and tours and local venues like the Fox Theater and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, where they learn more about how they can make their love for the arts a career.

LaBelle Elementary School
Arts integration is the foundation for engagement and critical thinking development at LaBelle Elementary. 

In addition to art-integrated core content, all students at LaBelle have extracurricular art-infused opportunities. SmART Clubs allow students to explore personal interests such as origami, puppet-making/theater, keyboard, and photography. Every staff member supports this initiative by sponsoring or cosponsoring a club, and meetings are supported by an early release schedule several times each semester so that all students can participate. 

Students present visual art displays, theatrical works, movement explorations and musical interpretations at bi-annual Art Showcase events.

All of this has given staff at LaBelle a new way of reaching students. They shared in their application: 

“The human experience expressed through music, dance, theater, and visual arts has broadened the scope of collaborative interaction between student and teacher and student and student. In such a creative, collaborative, and personally meaningful school climate, energy has become directed toward higher order thinking rather than surface level recall." 

Powder Springs Elementary School
Over the past six years, Powder Springs Elementary has used arts integration strategies to transform teaching and learning within the school. 

Students are encouraged to think in complex ways and apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired to solve problems. All teachers – including general education, specialists, special education, ESOL, gifted, and special-needs Pre-K – receive arts-integration professional learning that consists of training in visual arts, theater, dance/movement, music, and digital arts. 

The school has a classroom dedicated as an Arts Integration Studio, equipped with full-length mirrors and laminate flooring for dance, audience space, music and green-screen technology, costumes for theater arts, and visual art supplies – such as paint, yarn, fabric, and modeling clay – for teachers to use in the classroom. Classrooms are purposefully arranged in a manner conducive to the routine use of arts-integrated strategies; most classrooms have open spaces where students can utilize movement and theater strategies and several classes feature a small stage.

Partnerships with organizations like the Alliance Theater, Paint Love, Shakespeare Tavern, and the Mable House are utilized to provide opportunities for students. Field trips feature locations such as the High Museum of Art, the Booth Western Art Museum, the Center for Puppetry Arts, and ballet and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra performances. Students have access to chorus, Broadway Kids, piano and harp lessons, puppetry, and dance as extracurriculars.​