Written by Jessica Seay, AmeriCorps Member proudly serving with the New Schools for Baton Rouge Team at Merrydale Elementary School.
The second week of September is designated as National Arts in Education Week in recognition of the arts as a core academic subject essential to a balanced education. According to ArtsEdSearch.org, a clearinghouse of research looking at the benefits of arts in education, exposure to the arts has been linked to many characteristics that set students up for success. Arts integrated instruction has been shown to raise student achievement by improving student engagement and motivation to learn and participate in class. Arts education also helps students to develop creativity, reasoning and problem solving abilities, collaboration and communication skills, and a strong sense of confidence which can help to prepare them for leadership roles in the future.
Mrs. Espinoza, a 4th grade gifted teacher at Merrydale Elementary School, frequently integrates art into her lessons. When one walks into her classroom, they will often find her students scouring books for information with paper and colored pencils in hand. She recognizes that,
“Incorporating art into education provides children with a different avenue to demonstrate understanding. Through art students are able to process what they have learned and synthesize it with prior knowledge to create a deeper understanding that cannot be reached through books and lectures alone.” The fruits of her students’ arts-integrated education can be found colorfully decorating the walls and ceiling of her classroom throughout the year.
Local artist Keith “Cartoonman” Douglas recognizes the importance of arts in education. When he isn’t drawing caricatures at events around town, he can be found teaching students in East Baton Rouge Public Schools how to draw cartoons. Keith believes that, “All types of art you come in contact with everyday are important, from the city bus, to the milk packages you drink from.” He strives to teach his students how to appreciate art to this same degree, and he plays an important role in exposing children in East Baton Rouge to different forms of art through his lessons.
City Year Baton Rouge is proud to be a part of schools where our students are being exposed to the arts, and we hope you will join us in celebrating art as an essential aspect of education this week!