More than 350 schools in Utah have a plethora of arts resources at their fingertips after being provided with binders full of materials, strategies, contacts, and resources that will contribute to the building up of arts-rich schools. This information was gathered through a process of researching, surveying, questioning, gathering, and writing.
In 2018, the presidents of Utah Art Education Association, Utah Music Educators Association, Utah Dance Education Organization, and Utah Advisory Council of Theatre Teachers formed a team. In each arts area, chapters were written for the secondary school edition of “Building an Arts-Rich School: Strategies and Resources for Administrators” binders. The first edition was presented to elementary principals last year and to secondary principals, with the additional chapters, this year. The materials are now combined and available online on the BYU ARTS Partnership website in addition to lesson plans for teachers and other resources.
At the beginning of the process, the members of the BYU ARTS Partnership leadership team and arts specialists within the BYU ARTS Partnership were asked what they want their principals to know. After this information was gathered, the writing team created the content for the elementary school edition. The first edition was presented in a session at the 2017 Learning Edge Conference.
The following year, one representative from each professional arts education organization contributed on a panel to introduce the additions included in the secondary school edition at the 2018 Learning Edge Conference. Key points and objectives of the materials were shared. Every principal in the BYU–Public School Partnership was given a binder.
While many administrators and educators understand the importance of an arts-infused education for their students, they may not always know what to do, how to do it, where to find help, and how to pay for materials. With these new resources in hand, principals now have a starting point and pathway to move toward their arts goals for their schools.
The hope is they will discuss the detailed information with teachers to find the best solutions and provide quality arts experiences for students at their schools. A self-assessment is included to reflect upon current practices. If areas fall short, the principals and other school personnel can use the resources included in the “Arts-Rich Schools Resources” to begin finding solutions.
Activities required to produce the project included interviewing local teaching artists; defining what constitutes an arts-rich school; surveying principals of schools that matched qualifications for arts-rich schools; personal correspondence with community arts organizations; and compiling infographics, white pages, and research articles.
The binders include the sections “For Schools,” “For Teachers,” “For Students,” “Funding and Advocacy,” and “Arts Standards.” Examples of resources include professional development information, strategies for hiring qualified arts specialists, partnership opportunities, descriptions of available grants, and lists of a variety of online resources. These and other materials that will increase the quality and quantity of arts education in local schools are available at education.byu.edu/arts.
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 Integration Endorsement from Brigham Young University. She can be reached at LauraCGiles@gmail.com.