The Studio to School Learning Community has had an impact on our project from the very first convening. It was there that we began making connections with other arts educators and non-profit arts organizations from around the state. Over the last five years, our team has learned so much from the rest of the cohort. The OCF team did a great job of creating an environment for meaningful conversations to take place at project lead meetings and rendezvous. During peer visits and rendezvous we visited areas around the state and learned how the arts play a role in these communities. We were given the opportunity to support one another, learn from each other, and do meaningful work together. This support was significant. Many arts educators and non-profits in rural areas feel cut off from others doing the same work. We are extremely grateful for these opportunities for collaboration, problem solving, and celebrating successes with our colleagues.
We also appreciate the meaningful professional development. I have used what I learned at the story telling sessions many times while advocating for the arts in my community. Steve Patty’s presentation also had a big impact on our programming. What we learned has kept us focused on project viability, content, and assessment. We were also impressed the level of community engagement we experienced while visiting Sisters.
Moving forward, Sunset will be taking ownership of the art program. Sunset’s principal, Shelly McKnight, has submitted a budget proposal to the school board for a full-time art teacher. With the success of our most recent fundraiser, Coos Art Museum will be able to support Sunset with enough funds to pay for art materials and supplies during its transitional year. We will also provide classroom teachers with lesson plans for the grade level art projects we have taught over the past five years.
If Sunset does not receive this funding, we feel that arts learning and integration will still continue. Teachers have gained confidence in both of these areas through professional development, participating in the art lessons, and collaboration with one another and the teaching artists. With Shelly’s leadership, she and other key staff will continue to look for ways to implement arts integration and learning for the students at Sunset.
It has been a privilege to be a part of this learning community. I am proud of the work we have all done. I am hopeful that the work this cohort has started will ultimately lead to state support for arts education for all students in Oregon. I am hopeful that the relationships that we have built in this community will continue to be a source of support and inspiration for all of us.
Submitted by Kathy Sizemore