My how time flies. It is now the fall of 2020. It has been over a year since the formal partnership between Coos Art Museum and Sunset School ended. We want to check back at the school to see what the lasting impact from this partnership is.

As we walk throughout the hallways, the walls are covered with displays of student, staff, and collaborative artwork. There are some new permanent murals on display as well. It appears that most, if not all students have artwork proudly displayed.

Our first stop is the art room. Inside we find lots of activity taking place. The school’s new full time art instructor is guiding a group of excited and engaged students through the day’s lesson. As a result of the Studio to School Project, students, parents and staff voiced their need and desire to make full time art instruction a priority. Staff and parents realized that the arts program helped their students be better equipped to learn. Students are able to make more connections between learnings and to think critically. They are more willing to try new things and collaborate with others. They persevere and look for creative solutions to problems. Now Sunset’s energetic and creative art teacher is continuing to make sure that art education will continue to be a priority at Sunset.

In classrooms throughout the school, teachers are confidently incorporating arts integration into their classroom. The Studio to School Project provided classroom teachers with Professional Development to help teachers become more confident in their art knowledge and skill. The partnership also allowed classroom teachers and teaching artists to collaborate on ways to teach classroom content through art. Even though arts integration requires more planning, teachers are finding that it is worth the time. Students are more engaged in the learning. They are able to learn content in multiple ways, and they are better able to retain the learning compared to other strategies. Teachers continue to see higher levels of learning being achieved by their students.

The excitement generated by the arts at Sunset even extends into the community. Sunset’s Family Art Night and Art Showcase Event are well attended by families and community members. Students are proud to bring their families to see their work and take part in fun activities. They are excited to share what they have learned with their families and friends.

Art remains a vibrant part of the Sunset School community. The impact of the Studio to School Project is powerful. Students, staff, families, and community members are thriving as they continue to create and learn.