May 13, 2019
It's no secret that we believe in the positive and lasting impact of arts integration in schools for young people. Beyond this belief in theory, we are always keen to learn about how this plays out in action from those who work from within the education system. Recently, we visited Caulfeild Elementary to enjoy a performance by D.O. Gibson and caught-up with Grade 3 Teacher and Vice Principal, Sara Bell. She shared some valuable insight on what she looks for when booking performance artists for her school.
Tell us more about yourself and your role at Caulfeild Elementary:
[Sara] “I have been working as an educator for 21 years and have been working with ArtStarts for 6 years. I am responsible for booking performances at my school and typically book 3 performances through ArtStarts in a school year, as well as find other art groups including our local Indigenous community, the Squamish Nation.”
What is your experience working with ArtStarts?
[Sara] “It’s been positive! I loved the Showcase events, it’s a great couple of days as it gives me more clarity on a performer’s show and how it might fit in the Caulfeild context. You can’t always gauge this based off of their bio. The ArtStarts website is very easy to use and I love that I can book performers directly through your website.”
What disciplines do you normally book through ArtStarts?
[Sara] “I typically book performances that are based in music, theatre, and Indigenous art or dance as it engages our students.”
What do you consider when booking a performance?
[Sara] “I consider the curricular and core competencies and how different performances or artists may help us address these. I look to see if there is an interactive component or if the artist includes a workshop. I am interested in exposing our students to a variety of cultural experiences and artistic disciplines. For this particular performance, D.O. Gibson was a great fit for our whole school inquiry unit. At Caulfeild we have a list of core values rooted in character education and the artists’ message fit these values. I am also looking for performers that can help achieve qualities to inspire our students to become change-makers in society.”
What impact do you see in your students after a performance in at your school?
[Sara] “There is a certain positive vibe the students carry after a show. We see this during the performances, giving us insight on what excites them and keeps them engaged. When watching or interacting with a performer students sometimes respond differently to what we see in the classroom which can help us understand their interests. The shows can provide us an outlet to have conversations with our students that we might sometimes struggle to address.
After a performance, we see the engagement overflow back into the classrooms. Usually, our students want to talk more about the show or even share their experience at home. These performances often spark conversations in our parent community and are great platforms for a variety of discussions at home."
How did you choose this show? Was this a conscious effort to bring diverse performers to your school?
[Sara] “I do look for diversity in the artists that come to Caulfeild. Our population has grown in diversity over the past few years and I often look for universal connectors so that all students feel included and represented.
When students come from other countries, their parents will often have concerns about how their children are fitting in so this is a strong way to create an inclusive environment for them. Having diverse artists and performances is one way to promote inclusivity and demonstrate that we value diversity!”
How would you describe ArtStarts to another educator who may never have heard of us?
[Sara] “It’s a one stop shop for finding exciting, vetted artists from different backgrounds and disciplines for your school. I have attended your Showcase event three times and believe this is a great opportunity for each district to send a representative to experience a sample of what ArtStarts has to offer. I intend on learning more about the other resources you have available”
Any final thoughts about the importance of arts in the schools?
[Sara] “Academics are important but demonstrating that we also value the arts in our schools can be very empowering for some students. The arts provide many students with an outlet to excel and find their passion which is why I believe that art is essential.”
Help students find their outlet to excel in schools
With your support, we can create opportunities for every young person to have access to art in education so that they develop the skills that they need not just for their the future, but for what they need right now.
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