By Shannon Thomason
Teachers in Jefferson County have a new partner to help provide them with professional learning in the arts.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center is now part of The Kennedy Center’s Partners in Education Program, through a partnership with Jefferson County Schools and the Birmingham Museum of Art.
The Partners in Education program is designed to assist arts organizations throughout the nation to develop or expand educational partnerships with their local school systems. The primary purpose of these partnerships is to provide professional learning in the arts for teachers.
UAB has proven its commitment to providing arts experiences and learning opportunities for the community, and this exciting development will build on existing efforts, says UAB President Ray L. Watts.
“Through this partnership with The Kennedy Center, we can support teachers in their efforts to teach the arts and enhance other subjects through the arts, and offer inspiration, personal growth and learning through new arts performances and activities,” Watts said.
The Alys Stephens Center’s ArtPlay education team will collaborate with the BMA and Jefferson County Schools’ arts education colleagues to design programs for students in grades K-6. In the coming year, the teaching partners will draw curricular ties between the arts and other areas of study through a focus on folk arts from around the globe.
The Partners in Education program is based on the belief that teachers’ professional learning is an essential component of any effort designed to increase the artistic literacy of young people. The Kennedy Center’s extensive experience with its local professional learning program, established in 1976, provides the basis for this national program.
The Alys Stephens Center is honored to be part of this highly renowned program that involves almost 100 partnership teams in nearly 40 states and the District of Columbia, says Lili Anderson, the Alys Stephens Center’s interim executive director.
Partners in Education is an ideal match for the Alys Stephens Center’s mission to provide lifelong learning through the arts to members of our community of all ages, says the Alys Stephens Center’s director of engagement, Amy Miller.
“This program epitomizes our belief that the arts are vital to a holistic education, and are a powerful tool for expression, learning and building self-confidence,” Miller said.
Providing access and equity in arts education for all students is a priority for Partners in Education partnering institutions and school districts, which are committed to providing professional development in the arts for their area teachers. These learning experiences provide teachers with resources, strategies and understanding that will enable them to include the arts in their teaching.