“The World Would Be a Better Place If …”: National PTA and ED Honor Student Artists

This blog post was originally published on U.S. Department of Education’s Homeroom blog.

On the inside of high-schooler Maria Quiles’ right wrist is the neatly crafted tattoo of a treble clef, surrounded by notes. Having epilepsy, she relies on the tattoo, coupled with her musical passion, for courage during seizures.

Maria was at the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in January to be honored for her musical composition, which won an award in the 2014–15 National PTA Reflections competition celebrating arts learning in schools across the country. Each year hundreds of thousands of entrants from preschool through grade 12 reflect on a common theme to create original art in six mediums — dance choreography, film production, literature, music composition, photography, and visual arts. Maria’s composition responded to this year’s theme, “The World Would Be a Better Place If … ‘’

ED hosted the National PTA awards ceremony for the ninth year, which this year drew 35 honorees from 21 states and 200 other attendees — families, teachers and school leaders, National PTA staff, National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and other arts leaders, and ED staff. The ceremony ended with a signature ribbon-cutting to officially open the exhibit of Reflections visual arts and literature winners, on display through the end of February.

Maria, from Oviedo, Fla., was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 13; she has endured bullying, depression, and thoughts of suicide. The world would be a better place, she believes, if compassion trumped hurtful nicknames. Through the years, Maria has turned her despair into songs of hope. When a seizure is imminent, she and her mother together grasp Maria’s tattooed wrist and sing or hum her winning composition, which concludes, “Everything will be ok. . . . No matter what’s in my way, I’ll just stay, I’ll Just Stay.” Soon the seizure subsides.


Maria Quiles and her mother at the opening ceremony to honor Maria and 205 other winners of the 2014–15 National PTA Reflections competition.

Ted Mitchell, ED’s under secretary of education, spoke of “the transformational power of art,” as reflected in Maria’s story:

“Art has a particular ability to raise the volume on the possible, to give us images
and sounds, pictures, words that help describe a world that might not exist yet, but
can, and more importantly, ought to. … Art enables us to create an experience
before we can explain it, and it’s that movement from the experience to the explanation, to the development of work that … is our life’s journey.”

Beyond discovery, educators lauded many other merits of art in education. Jane Chu, NEA chairwoman, cited research indicating that arts-infused schools correlate with improved social skills, higher grades and test scores, better attendance, lower dropout rates, and increased college enrollment. These outcomes are particularly pronounced for low-income students.

Laura Bay, the National PTA president, named additional benefits. Artists learn to create, problem-solve, persevere, and communicate. Art can be woven throughout all academic areas, including science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), to clarify, illuminate, stimulate the imagination, and develop innovations.
Honorees interpreted this year’s competition theme in myriad ways. For example, “The World Would Be a Better Place If … ”

“… [P]eople came together and focused on their similarities, not their differences. The joy of music creates a common bond that brings people together, even people who do not know one another. …If more people focused on the joyous parts of life, like music, the world would have less hatred and would be a better place.” — Kyle Gatesman, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology [Virginia] student, who composed and performed “The Joy of Music” on his keyboard.


Kyle Gatesman performs his original composition for keyboard, “The Joy of Music.”

“… [W]e all set down our cell phones and got to know each other face-to-face.” —Hanna La Londe, Shawnee Mission West [Kansas] High School student, who choreographed and performed the dance “Losing Touch” to the music of Prince Ea.

Hanna La Londe performs the award-winning dance she choreographed, “Losing Touch.”

Hanna La Londe performs the award-winning dance she choreographed, “Losing Touch.”

“… I could march through life with my brother.” —10-year-old Jarom Garner [Briarwood, Wash.], who, accompanied by his 12-year-old sibling, Adam, performed a cello duet of Jarom’s prize-winning composition, “The Brothers’ March.”



Jarom Garner, left, and his sibling Adam perform Jarom’s winning musical composition for cello, “The Brothers’ March.”

Jarom Garner, left, and his sibling Adam perform Jarom’s winning musical composition for cello, “The Brothers’ March.”


Honorees cut the ribbon at the opening of the Reflections art exhibit featuring some 60 pieces of visual art and a collection of literature.

Nancy Paulu is an editor and writer in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

All photos are by U.S. Department of Education photographer Joshua Hoover. More photos from the event may be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/departmentofed/albums/72157663336481071

The Department’s
 Student Art Exhibit Program provides students and teachers an opportunity to display creative work from the classroom in a highly public space that honors their work as an effective path to learning and knowledge for all. To visit the exhibits or for information about exhibiting, contact Jackye Zimmermann at jacquelyn.zimmermann@ed.gov.

Celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month Poem

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Reflections Artwork by Leroux Julien

There once was child who sat in class very jaded
He was upset at test taking and always being graded.
The teacher noticed that he was not the only one
All the students in the class did not have much fun.
So the teacher began to think about what she should do
To get her class to participate and have fun in school, too.
She woke up early one morning to start on her plan
To engage her students in class and keep their attention span.
A light bulb went off and she immediately knew
“I think incorporating the arts is the thing to do!”
So she wrote out a unit plan incorporating the arts
“These lessons should be sure to capture my students’ hearts.”

The weekend came and went and Monday morning was here.
A math lesson with music, and dance would make her students’ boredom disappear.
A history lesson with art and photography was also captivating.
Creative writing, film, science, and reading became engaging.
This teacher was ecstatic, the class was now amused.
Those annoying little worksheets have now gone unused.
Her students were happy, and enjoyed coming to school
Because the students now knew that the arts are really cool.

The kids had too much fun, and the parents were concerned.
So the students put on a play about the stuff that they learned.
This play was going to be big, the teacher was much stressed
But the students were excellent and the parents were impressed.
The school Principal was excited and Assistant Principal was delighted.
The students’ passion for learning had now been ignited.

I wrote this short poem to tell you this fact
that the arts and humanities in education can keep students on track.
Celebrating the arts and humanities is sure to imbue
Happy National Arts and Humanities day to your students and you!

Happy National Arts and Humanities Month to you!

Quanice Floyd is the arts fellow at National PTA.

The Arts Leading the Way to Student Success

Action-Agenda-CoverIt’s official: school is back in session! Bright yellow school buses are once again roaming the streets, teachers have made the final touches to lesson plans and backpack-laden kids are making their way to new schools, new teachers and new friends.

­­­As parents, much is likely on your mind. What should I pack for healthy lunches that my child will actually eat? How can I build a good relationship with the teachers? And, perhaps, most importantly, how can I do ensure that my child has the best possible education this year and every year?

But have you considered whether or not your child’s school is providing a complete and competitive education that include the arts? Decades of research collected by the Arts Education Partnership (AEP) have shown that the arts are an essential component for providing all children the foundation to succeed in school, work and life.

With that in mind, Congress has set aside a time each year to consider and celebrate the role of the arts in our schools and communities by establishing this week as National Arts in Education Week. To assist parents, teachers, school leaders and policymakers in exploring the role of the arts in education, AEP recently released The Arts Leading the Way to Student Success: A 2020 Action Agenda for Advancing the Arts in Education.

This Action Agenda outlines a set of goals and strategies by which the arts can be employed as AEP’s 100+ partner organizations collectively respond to and inform four high priority areas of action needed to effectively address educational inequities, and level the playing field for academic achievement and student success. These four areas are:

  • To raise student achievement and success through the adoption and implementation of higher learning standards and effective accountability systems
  • To support effective educators and school leaders through improved preparation, support, and evaluation systems
  • To transform the teaching and learning environment through student-centered strategies for using time, resources, and technology in new and innovative ways
  • To build leadership capacity and knowledge by providing all arts and education leaders with the knowledge and resources necessary to engage the arts as an essential component of a complete and competitive education for all students

Join AEP as we work to achieve the Action Agenda’s aspirational goal that, by the year 2020, every young person in America, at every grade level, from pre-kindergarten through grade 12, will have equitable access to high quality arts learning opportunities, both during the school day and in out-of-school time.

SJ-Web-Pic-rsz1Scott D. Jones is the senior associate for research and policy at the Arts Education Partnership.

Encourage Creativity: Teach the Arts

As parents and members of the PTA, our role is to advocate for the best educational experience possible for our kids and I firmly believe that the best education possible includes the arts. Painting, dancing, acting and singing provide our children with numerous benefits.

For instance, did you know students involved in the arts have a dropout rate five times lower than their peers?

Did you know that 72% of business leaders say that creativity is the number one skill they’re looking for when hiring?

So what can we do to encourage creativity in our schools? As the arts education program manager at Americans for the Arts, I oversee the creation of tools and resources to help parents understand the benefits of arts education and to then, in turn, convey that importance to our principals, school board members and elected officials.

This year, Americans for the Arts launched a suite of tools called “Encourage Creativity: Teach the Arts.” The site includes four distinct videos that show the important role of the arts in every child’s education. The videos are inspirational, visually stunning and emotionally and intellectually compelling.


Encourage Creativity Image by Scott Cronan Photography

And since this week (September 13 – 19) is National Arts in Education Week, there’s no time like the present to get started with using the Encourage Creativity suite! This year marks the 5th anniversary of National Arts in Education Week—a national celebration recognizing the importance of dance, media arts, music, theater and visual arts to a well-rounded education. Through House Resolution 275, the week of the second Sunday in September is designated to bring attention of this cause to our educational decision makers.


You can download and use this logo for free at: NationalArtsInEducationWeek.org

Not sure how to join in the celebration of National Arts in Education Week? Here are three easy ideas:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the tools. We’ve built an entire suite of tools to help you celebrate National Arts in Education Week and Encourage Creativity in your school communities. Parents can use all of our tools in tandem—you could prepare talking points via our Facts & Figures e-book and then inspire your school leaders with one of the videos.
  2. Host an event or make a presentation. Local events are a great way to bring attention to the cause of arts education. You could host a performance, exhibit or open house. Or you could prepare a presentation for a town hall, PTA meeting or school board meeting. We’ve got step-by-step instructions on how to use the Encourage Creativity tools for any of these scenarios.
  3. Join the conversation. You can see what other parents and educators are doing to Encourage Creativity in their schools by following the #ArtsEdWeek hashtag all week long: September 13 – 19. You can add your story to the conversation using the following hashtags: Share a picture of student artwork or a performance and tag it with #EncourageCreativity. Or tell a story about an arts educator who has made a difference in your school community and tag it with #TeachTheArts.

Get creative! Watch the videos, share your stories and join in this celebration of National Arts in Education Week. Help spread the idea that the best way to encourage creativity in our schools is to teach the arts!

Encourage Creativity Image by Scott Cronan Photography

Encourage Creativity Image by Scott Cronan Photography

Kristen Engebretsen is the arts education program manager for Americans for the Arts. She also is a member of the Takoma Park Elementary PTA in Maryland.

A Great Learning Experience

Reflections Student Art by Vy Nguyen (Grade 5)

Reflections Student Art by Vy Nguyen (Grade 5)

Creating art is a valuable learning process. Artistic exploration and expression enhance and develop intellectual, social and physical skills.

When children express themselves through words, pictures, music, photography and other art forms, they grow intellectually. The National PTA Reflections program helps parents encourage and recognize the continuous self-discovery process of their children.

With art, children learn to analyze their thoughts, feelings and ideas; look at objects, people and experiences in a fresh and exciting way; and develop curiosity for the ideas and works of others.

There are four skills students demonstrate and enhance through their artwork in the Reflections program:

  1. Critical Thinking—Students draw upon many skills and explore the creative process while reflecting on the annual Reflections’ theme. Oftentimes, students solve problems to real-world global issues or identify opportunities and strategies that really work.
  2. Communication—Students hone their writing and communication skills by articulating their thoughts and ideas in an artist statement that is shared with their peers and the greater school community. Reflections will give students a voice (using art) to inform, persuade, motivate and inspire others.
  3. Collaboration—Families and classrooms have fun discussing the annual theme and exploring new art-making techniques. A student choreographer or film director will cultivate leadership skills while working with their peers, and a Reflections Art Night will offer time and space for the whole family. Student leadership and ownership are key for a successful Reflections submission.
  4. Creativity—Students find themselves at the epicenter of their imagination. Reflections artwork is a product of mastering the creative process. Students must brainstorm multiple ideas and even combinations of them by elaborating, refining, analyzing and evaluating. The process allows students to think outside the box and create a tangible, useful work of art that inspires others to be engaged in their own learning.

It’s programs like PTA Reflections that allow students to cultivate and curate creative skills that give them an academic advantage.

Students who participate in arts programs like Reflections show the greatest relative improvement in academic achievement, especially for those in underserved communities. Arts education has the ability to level the playing field because it provides a safe learning environment where students take risks, explore ideas and express their individuality. Students also learn to support their peers in a positive way by breaking down communication barriersprobably because the arts are a universal language (ArtsEdSearch.org).

Reflections is designed to enhance arts education. It provides opportunities for students to express themselves and to receive positive recognition for their artistic efforts. Family members, school personnel and the community all play a critical role in fostering a positive learning environment for children. Supporting a Reflections program in your community is one way adults can help maintain that environment.

I encourage you to support student learning through the arts so that today’s Reflections artists can find their voice and continue to explore their world in creative ways.

Learn more and get started at PTA.org/Reflections.

Ethan Clark is the Manager of Education and Arts Initiatives at National PTA.

Encourage Creativity During #ArtsEdWeek

ArtsEdWeekThis September 14-18, PTAs and schools nationwide encourage creativity during National Arts in Education Week to raise awareness of the value the arts bring to a high-quality, comprehensive education.

The weeklong initiative is designed to celebrate the arts, spotlight the importance of arts education and encourage participation in arts programs and activities like PTA Reflections.

The timing of the week honors National Arts in Education Week as designated by the U.S. House of Representatives, but also serves as the official kickoff celebration for the 2015-2016 National PTA Reflections program.

Each day of the Sept. 14-18 school week, PTAs across the country and in U.S. schools overseas will celebrate arts education by hosting school-wide arts activities based on the 2015-2016 PTA Reflections program theme, Let Your Imagination Fly.

PTA Reflections encourages students to create original artwork that reflects their interpretation on the annual theme and acquire many educational and life-long benefits.

You can introduce the theme at school or at home by starting a conversation. Try these questions to help students explore their world as it relates to the theme.

  • What would happen if you let your imagination fly?
  • Where does your imagination take you?
  • How/when do you use your imagination?
  • Why is your imagination important to you?

Give students time and space to reflect on the theme and offer arts supplies and materials for them to explore the following PTA Reflections categories each day during National Arts in Education Week. Consider the following ideas to encourage creativity:

Monday – Dance Choreography: Choose a time during the school day and invite everyone to dance together. Choose a story based on the theme that is read aloud or song based on the theme and have students create movements to phrases that communicate the theme.

Tuesday – Film Production: Have students create a storyboard/comic based on their interpretation of the theme. Set up a place where students can rehearse and record their skits.

Wednesday – Literature: Students may write a poem/short story related to the theme. Consider inviting a guest author to talk about how they use their imagination.

Thursday – Music Composition: Host time and space for students to participate in a music making activity using instruments or found objects. Provide studio time where students explore sounds/instruments and record their compositions.

Friday – Photography & Visual Arts: Encourage students to take photos of their peers using their imagination to be more creative in class and at home. Have students post their photos on a designated wall that promotes the Reflections theme.

Throughout #ArtsEdWeek, share photos and videos of your #PTAReflections program encouraging creativity in your school. For inspiration, share this video and visit the online art exhibit featuring student interpretations on past years’ themes.

After National Arts in Education Week is over, the fun continues! Family and peer encouragement is key to a student’s success in school and in life and this is what PTA Reflections is all about.

To get involved, join your PTA and visit PTA.org/Reflections to get started! And for more info on National Arts in Education Week, visit PTA.org/ArtsEdWeek.

Reflections: A Gallery of 2014-2015 Student Art

Since 1969, the PTA Reflections program has encouraged students across the nation and in American schools overseas to explore their creativity. Each year, students in preschool through high school are invited to create and submit works of art in the areas of dance choreography, film production, literature, music composition, photography, and the visual arts. In the 2014-2015 school year, Reflections students shared their artistic interpretations on the theme “The World Would Be a Better Place If…

National PTA Reflections submissions are reviewed by experts in the visual, literary and performing arts. Judges look for personal interpretation on the program theme that best exemplify creativity and technical skill. We are proud to share with you this year’s award winning works of art and invite you to join us at future exhibitions.

Reflections Icon_Dance

Dance Choreography

Outstanding Interpretation in Dance Choreography –
“The World Would Be a Better Place If everyone Was True to Themselves” by Madison Duellman

When [my friends and I] heard the song “Try” by Colbie Caillat, I was inspired to create a dance about being yourself and not trying to be something you are not. We all feel that if we could dress, look, and be ourselves, we would be happier and if everyone did that, the world would be a better place.” – Madison Duellman

View all of the national award winning dance choreography submissions.


Reflections Icon_Film

Film Production

Outstanding Interpretation in Film Production –
“Masks” by Jacqueline Fashimpaur

I always noticed that people act differently around others then they do in private. Even Ida Shel Silverstein wrote a poem comparing this phenomenon to wearing masks, and I thought it was a great metaphor. This film shows how “wearing a mask” can lead people to be isolated and lonely. I think that if people felt free to be themselves, there would be more friendship and understanding between people, and the world would be a better place. Hopefully this film inspires some change in that direction.” – Jacqueline Fashimpaur

View all national award winning film production submissions.


Reflections Icon_Literature


Outstanding Interpretation in Literature –
“The World Would Be a Better Place…” by Sarah Murphy

Poem“The world would be better if hatred, jealousy, war, and disease were eliminated. Focusing on the negative makes life harder. The world has flaws and sadness but we must also see the good to appreciate what we have. I used alliteration in the beginning to show anger and agitation when talking about the “bad” things. The second part has no alliteration to convey accepting the good with the bad. The spacing emphasizes the meaning. The “negatives” are on the left side, the contrasting feelings are on the right. The conclusion is in the middle to combine the two.” – Sarah Murphy

View all national award winning literature submissions.






Reflections Icon__Music

Music Composition

Outstanding Interpretation in Music Composition –
“It’d Be Better” by Fritz Hager

This song [It’d be Better] focuses on the greed that is in the world. My song states that the world would be a better place if we all gave more than we received, and showed love through our giving.” – Fritz Hager

Check out all national award winning music composition submissions. Video coming soon!


Reflections Icon__Photography


Outstanding Interpretation in Photography –
“Determination” by Cesily Covey

My artwork illustrates my belief that everyone should receive an equal opportunity and equal exposure to the culture around us. Regardless of where we come from, we all come from one planet and that everyone deserves equal access to education and global culture so we can all unite not under the name of a country, but under Earth.” – Cesily Covey

View all national award winning photography submissions.


Reflections Icon__VisualArts

Visual Arts

Outstanding Interpretation in Visual Arts –
“Unity” by Catherine Park

My artwork illustrates my belief that everyone should receive an equal opportunity and equal exposure to the culture around us. Regardless of where we come from, we all come from one planet and that everyone deserves equal access to education and global culture so we can all unite not under the name of a country, but under Earth.” – Catherine Park

View all national award winning visual arts submissions.


Reflections Logo_2

Special Artist

Outstanding Interpretation in Special Artist Division –
“Everything Will be Ok I’ll Just Stay” by Maria Quiles

Giving someone a hurtful nickname, making fun of their medical conditions, claiming you’re their true friends and during all this feeling like not even family cares. Having it lead you fell as well, there is no other choice, suicide is the only possible answer for all this to just end. To ignore these problems, bullies, and this non-stop hurtful pain deep inside. Well no, it’s not. Believe in yourself instead! To continue staying strong, ignore those bullies, those that have no idea what they are even talking about or what your’re truly going through. Tell yourself ‘Everything Will Be OK’.” – Maria Quiles

Learn more about the Special Artist Division for students with disability.

Northwoods Elementary is STEAMing ahead!


On April 16, Northwoods Elementary in Cary, N.C. held their first STEAM Fair. The idea was to take STEM a step further by adding art into the equation. Northwoods’ PTA President, Crystal Hartzell explains, “Most will agree that art is a major key to creativity, and that creativity is the catalyst to innovation. Merging STEM and Arts education could accelerate the innovation and progressive thinking of our students. It is our responsibility to give our future leaders a well-rounded quality education preparing them for the many challenges they will face in their future and that can’t be done by only enriching half of the brain.”

1gfeMore than 70 students created projects at home from one of the STEAM categories: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. They were then displayed during the schools STEAM Fair for the community to see. The evening included hands-on demonstrations by multiple local companies like StarWitness, STEM for Kids, and Vision Martial Arts. As well as representatives from East Cary Middle Schools Coding and Robotics clubs and St. Mary’s Biology Explorer’s Summer Camp. Families were encouraged to get involved, interact with others and have fun. The school’s Title 1 team handed out free math and reading books and games to over 150 students during the event.

The 275+ attendees were also invited to participate in a collaborative art project titled “The Art of Community” with the assistance of Cary Teen Council.  This will be displayed in the front lobby of the school in the coming weeks for Northwoods families and guests to enjoy. The evening was topped off with the attendance of Big Mikes BBQ food truck and Kona Ice truck for dinner and dessert. The Northwoods STEAM Fair was hosted by Northwoods Elementary PTA.

How are your local schools demonstrating STEAM in the students’ curriculum? Leave some comments below!

Crystal Hartzell is the Northwoods Elementary School PTA president.

A Day in the Life of an Arts Teacher

shutterstock_121398937It is important to thank those who are able to bring the arts to our students’ lives. One of the best things about being an arts teacher is to see my students succeed. I chose to become a music teacher at the young age of eight years old. I was inspired by the great movie: Mr. Holland’s Opus. Here’s a brief description (and spoiler) of the movie for those who haven’t seen it. In the 1960s, Mr. Holland, played by Richard Dreyfuss, was a composer and professional musician.

He wanted to settle down from his crazy performance schedule to spend more time with his wife. In order to do so, he became a music teacher in the local high school. Although he dreaded being a teacher because he loved to perform so much, he grew to love his students as if they were his own children. Mr. Holland taught for over 30 years and changed hundreds of his students’ lives through music both inside and outside of the classroom.

At the end of the movie, Mr. Holland was forced to retire because of funding and lack of administrative support, however, the majority of the students who he taught came back and planned a huge concert for him where they performed a piece that he spent decades composing. I want to be just like Mr. Holland. I want to be able to break through the barriers of my students’ lives to let them know that they can use music (or other arts) to express themselves.

Currently, I teach elementary instrumental and general/vocal music in Baltimore County, MD. I usually teach about 5-6 classes a day, depending on the day, with 1 planning period. Each of these classes (and the planning period) are 50 minutes long. During these 50 minutes, a lot of activities and topics are reviewed, learned and evaluated. I also make sure that what they are learning coincides with things they may be currently learning in their other classes as well as incorporate familial aspects from my students’ lives to help them better understand concepts.

5:00 a.m. – Wake up, shower, eat, and get dressed.

6:30 a.m. – Out the door, on the road from Washington, DC to my school in MD, which is about 50 miles away.

7:45 a.m. – Arrive at school, begin putting up objectives, clean instruments, rearrange classrooms, compile old papers, and sharpen pencils.

9:15 a.m. – 4th Grade. This class is composed of about 22 students who are extremely excited about music. We warm up with vocal exercises and techniques and review old topics. We then focus on the topic of the day and work in groups to explore the topic. Students usually perform at the end of each class period so that I can evaluate their understanding of the new topic.

10:05 a.m. – 5th Grade Electives, World Drumming. This class is an elective class in which students choose to participate in their favorite activity. This class consists of about 15 5th grade students who mostly compose their own songs using Orff instruments, drums and other world instruments like the claves.

10:55 a.m. – 3rd Grade. The third grade curriculum is currently a mix between Kodaly techniques and Recorder. Students essentially love music at this age because they become more responsible with purchasing their own instruments (the recorders). Depending on the day, students are both learning music theory and a new recorder piece or they are testing to receive their next belt in recorder karate.

11: 45 a.m. – Lunch

12:15 p.m. – 2nd Grade. This class loves to play with different instruments so we continue to sing, use Kodaly methods and learn about new instruments during the class.

1:00 p.m. – 10 minute break to re-adjust my classroom.

1:10 p.m. –1st Grade. This class loves to sing, dance and perform! We continue to work on our 1st grade play for our parents, which we will perform at the end of the year. We also talk about different topics in music class and how they apply to the songs that we are learning to perform.

2:00 p.m. – Kindergarten. A very playful class that loves to perform, sing and dance. They are learning the fundamentals of music such as loud vs soft (piano/forte), locomotive sounds, ostinatos, rounds, etc.

2:50 p.m. – Planning Time. Finish lesson planning for the next day, clean up room, make copies, etc.

3:30 p.m. – Afternoon Duty. Making sure students go straight to the bus and saying our goodbyes for the day.

4:00 p.m. – After-school step practice with students (or talent show practice depending on the day).

6:00 p.m. – Last student leaves for the day, and so do I!

7:30 p.m. – Finally get home. Continue to plan lessons/units for the upcoming weeks.

“The practice of art isn’t to make a living. It’s to make your soul grow.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Quanice Floyd is the Arts Education Graduate Fellow at National PTA. She is currently working on her Masters in Arts Management at American University while teaching in Baltimore County Public Schools. She received her Bachelors of Music Education at Howard University and Masters of Music Education at Kent State University. She is passionate about arts education and one day hopes to one day open her own performing arts school for urban youth.

The Art of Sharing Power

SharingPowerCo-authored by Ethan Clark.

Lights! Camera! Action! Check out the following dramatic script to see an example of how arts education can be limited and one parent who wants to make a difference.

Colors for Timmy: A dramatic play about sharing power
by Sherri Wilson and Ethan Clark

Timmy Wilson

Mrs. Wilson
Principal Clark

Late one evening at the Wilson’s dinner table…

Mrs. Wilson: “What was the best part of your day today, Timmy?”

Timmy: “I liked the painting we did in art class but we only had two colors to choose from and all of our pictures looked the same.”

Mrs. Wilson: “What? Only two colors? Why don’t they have more?”

Timmy: “Mr. Clark said they didn’t have any money in the budget to pay for more paint.”

Later that week, at the principal’s office…

Mrs. Wilson: “How can we get more colors of paint for the children?”

Mr. Clark: “The budget decisions were made by the committee last year.”

Mrs. Wilson: “How can I get on the committee? I’d like to make sure that all the kids get all the colors they need!”

Does this dramatic script resonate with you? Do you think your school needs more arts education? Ask your friends to role play this with you so you can practice having a voice in decisions that affect children. For inspiration check out The Quest, a national award winning film production from Reflections participant Ansel LaPier of Liberty, WA.

The PTA National Standards for Family School Partnerships were developed by leading researchers and practitioners to empower PTA leaders, parents, educators, community members and students to work together for the educational success of all children. The fifth of the six standards Sharing Power. Families and school staff should be equal partners in decisions that affect children and families and together inform, influence, and create policies, practices, and programs. Families and school staff should be equal partners in decisions that affect children and families and together inform, influence, and create policies, practices and programs.

Share power and advance arts learning in your school, with these 3 steps:

  1. Create a PTA taskforce of student, teacher and other school leaders. Welcome community arts professionals.
  2. Assess your school’s arts in education needs: Survey school leaders identify school policies that support arts teaching and learning (e.g. arts learning standards, arts instructional requirements, assessment of arts learning, licensure requirements for arts teachers, etc.). Use the Arts Education Partnership’s State of the States Arts Education State Policy Summary to compare school policies with state laws. Identify areas needing improvement.
  3. Develop an action plan with recommendations to school leaders on how update, adopt, or implement art education policies. Include your “shared power” strategy in official school documents such as a school improvement plan.

The arts — and the National PTA Reflections® program, in particular — can be a valuable tool for building stronger partnerships in your school community and meeting the Standard for Sharing Power.

Read more to learn about each of the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships and the steps you can take with PTA Reflections to meet them. Also, consider enrolling in the National PTA School of Excellence program to gain new ways to engage all families in each of the standards. National PTA School of Excellence is a recognition program that supports and celebrates partnerships between PTAs and schools to enrich the educational experience and overall well-being for all students. Contact excellence@pta.org or call (800)307-4782 for more info.

Fifth in a series of blog posts co-authored by National PTA’s Senior Manager of Family Engagement Sherri Wilson & Manager of Arts in Education Ethan Clark.