Teach Literacy through the Arts in DC, MD, and VA

Dec 12, 2011

Learning at all levels

A Proud Young Author!
A Proud Young Author!

Artist-in-residency programs take learning to another level - they reach every student in the classroom including those who often don't engage in the learning process, they reach the teachers to re-invigorate them to remember why they love to teach and arm them with techniques for innovative ways to get students involved, and they reach the greater school community, leaving a lasting, positive impact for the entire student body, teachers, administration, and parents.  The school written about below would not have been able to bring in an artist-in-residency program had it not been for funding assistance that was received. 

This is a great example of how your dollars can make a difference!  With your assistance, Story Tapestries can provide greatly needed financial assistance to schools and educational organizations to provide life-changing programs.


Maryland Community News

Published: Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Artist brings lively learning to New Market Elementary by Angie Cochrun
Staff Writer

The students sat in rapt silence, all eyes on a lone figure in the front of the room.
The third- through fifth-graders watched as Arianna Ross, New Market Elementary School’s new artist in residence, did cartwheels, told expressive stories, and played music.
And they didn’t even realize they were learning.
Through the artist-in-residence program that kicked off Nov. 9, Ross will bring classes for both students and teachers in the art of storytelling and beyond.
Robin Tormo, the school PTA’s Cultural Arts chairwoman, said the group applied for a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council in May, and learned they won it in September. “That’s a pretty big amount of money for us to get,” Tormo said. “It’s really cool.”
The $1,551 grant covers half the cost of the residence, which includes class workshops and professional development for teachers.
“She’ll give them different ideas for what they can do in the class,” Tormo said. “… It’s something different for them to do.”
Ross said marrying traditional learning with art forms can help students access different styles of learning — visual, audio, kinesthetic.
Ross, who works with all ages, said storytelling is about empowerment for both the teacher and the student. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the average to the brilliant to specific needs, everybody gets excited about arts,” Ross said.
She said arts integration can be a powerful tool. “I have seen time and time again how ... when a residence is completed, the schools read at a higher level, they test at a higher level,” Ross said.
Catherine Alspaugh, a teacher, self-proclaimed “drama geek” and the site coordinator for the artist’s residence, said the program takes a lot of collaboration with teachers, but they had been eager for the opportunity.
“I threw it out to the whole school and got a very good response,” she said. Ross will work with five classes five times, including Alspaugh’s group.
“They’re very excited,” Alspaugh said. “We have a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the arts, and that gets transferred to the kids. ... It’s really important that they have those opportunities.”
Ross mixes cultural history, geography, science and character education pieces into performance. She said she knew New Market Elementary’s focus is writing, so she integrated it into the assembly on Wednesday.
“Really, what these kids need to see is they need someone to model for them exactly what their teachers are saying,” said Ross, who does more than 14 artist-in-residence programs a year through her Germantown-based nonprofit, Story Tapestries.
With the upcoming classes, Ross plans to work with students looking at point of view and argumentative, or persuasive, writing. Students will create a “frozen narrative” picture, and then create their own story.
Ross will also working with teachers as part of her residency. “Even the teachers not involved are going to see the techniques and apply them in their classroom,” Ross said. “It’s not just reaching the five classrooms, it’s reaching the whole school.”



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Project Leader

Arianna Ross

Germantown, Maryland United States

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