We have taken on a complex and enthusiastic project and are realizing the multi-faceted nature of what we have chosen to do. This project has many elements and there are multiple levels to each element. We believe we can make this happen and are dedicated to its success.
Starting out, we thought we were ready to jump in with implementation, and have now realized we need to be more patient and communicate and network before we can move forward. As an established partner with the Sisters schools, we perhaps assumed that with the superintendent on board, all else would fall into place.
In the first week of school and subsequent 6 weeks, we concentrated on guest artist visitations, assemblies and artist-in-residence opportunities. During this time we also met as our SFF team to prepare with our teaching artist and arts integration specialist to develop a plan at each school. With unforeseen changes in space availability and preparedness for teachers to engage, we have adjusted our plan accordingly.
In early November, we met with all administrators in the district, including the high school principal, even though the high school is not included in the grant. We took time to review the past history of Folk Festival involvement in each school, and the premise of our mission to provide arts experiences for students at all levels. We needed to hear input from administrators and to share the possibilities of moving forward in this relationship, particularly given the opportunities provided by the Studio to School grant. This meeting was well-received and a critical step in moving forward. As a result, administrators are asking to meet regularly and be active participants in the planning and implementation. Score!!!
Originally, we planned to have a piano lab installed and in use at the elementary school. We have now reassessed the timeline to be more realistic, and install it by year-end, taking time this year to provide training and professional development to teachers who will be using and benefitting from it – including all district music teachers. Our current timeline for the piano labs will be to install them in both elementary and middle school by next fall. The superintendent has stated that this WILL happen.
Thus far, the Learning Team at the elementary school has been identified and has met several times and begun implementation, including our teaching artist working with students in visual arts. Thus far, she has been met with a welcoming attitude by the teachers and measured success. The middle school team is in process of being identified. The plan is to begin meeting regularly with those teams for the remainder of the school year, focusing on development of our five-year implementation plan. We are going to engage both learning teams in a visioning process to create buy-in and school integration for the Studio to School work. Those team members will be critical in leading each building in our implementation. Our goal remains to have all staff aware and understand the possibilities of the grant by year-end.
I think the decisions made recently to slow down, make sure we are addressing all stakeholders, and develop a process where implementation is driven by needs and capabilities will ultimately ensure success. We realize that, as outside partners, all of the work will have to come from within to build capacity and ultimately, be sustained over the long term. Even small changes to a classroom teacher’s routine, instruction, etc. require total understanding and buy-in. We are looking forward to further planning to fully realize the opportunity before us!