Wasatch Elementary School in Salt Lake City, Utah, has an important and unique focus: intertwining the arts with other curricular areas. Through donations from the community, specialists in the different arts, and collaboration between the faculty and staff, the students at Wasatch are experiencing a much broader education than simply the three Rs (Reading, wRiting, aRithmetic).
Wasatch Elementary’s library plays a central role in the art education of the students. Dawn Ann Bullough, library media teacher, has a passion for what they do. “This community values having all of the arts taught in its school,” she said.
Some people wonder how a library specialist fits into the arts focus. “We can use literature in all of the arts,” Bullough said. In fact, the school has had dance performances that are based on books and stories from the library. “Music, drama, dance—they’re really just storytelling in other kinds of forms and it’s the very same with visual arts.”
In addition to music teachers, every student in the school has the opportunity to learn from a dance and drama specialist thanks to fundraising by the parents. “This community has worked hard to combine all of the arts,” Bullough said.
According to Bullough, the Salt Lake City School District has teacher-certified librarians. “It allows the librarian to work with our teachers and collaborate with them and our student needs. We don’t just check out, check in books. We work with the arts specialists that are in our school and provide resources.”
Bullough was a classroom teacher for many years and has continued teaching literature to students as a librarian. For example, she taught “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll to sixth graders many times. Students at the school have created corresponding book art projects, shadow puppet plays, and this year they learned a Jabberwocky song. “The thing that makes this so fun for me is there is a collaboration between the classroom teachers, between the arts specialists, and the librarian,” Bullough said.
Penny Caywood is the theater specialist at Wasatch and her collaboration with Bullough benefits all of the students. Caywood said that she regularly asks Bullough about music, books and stories that could be dramatized easily. Students and teachers are always using the library. “It is such an inspirational space,” she said.
At Wasatch Elementary, the library is the heart of the school. “We have a lot of things that happen right here in our library. School community council meetings, PTA meetings and visitors who do presentations in the library. Students do research and mini-productions in the library,” Bullough said. “It’s an important space to encourage learning and creativity. It’s just a wonderful place to be.”
*Dawn Ann Bullough is presenting a session at the 2019 Learning Edge Administrator’s Conference on November 12th. Principals, administrators, and teacher leaders who are interested can register at https://education.byu.edu/cites/learning-edge-2019
Laura Giles is a lover of all things art, a first grade teacher in Alpine School District, a writer for The Daily Herald newspaper, an Arts Leadership Academy graduate and has earned the Arts