Art: In a word, it works

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 11, 2001

Features Editor

In any partnership, there is art.

And, never has it been more true than in the partnerships Troy State University has entered into with art-minded entities.

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For several years, the university and the Pike County School System have been in a partnership that brings a program of arts to grades K through 5. The students have enjoyed programs, including dance, drama, music and the visual arts, through the partnership with TSU, the Alabama Council on the Arts and Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts and Sikorsky Support Services.

This year, that arts education program has been expanded to include grades K-3 in the Troy City School System.

Geoffrey Spann, principal of Troy Elementary School, said the number one positive statement about his school is in reference to its fine arts program.

"We have full time art and music teachers and we are very fortunate in that sense," Spann said. "But we wanted to do more."

The "we" to whom Spann referred, included the members of the school’s Parent-Teacher Organization. The organization was willing to partner with Troy State University and the Troy Council on the Arts and Humanities so TES students could benefit from the programing in place through the arts education partnership with the county school system.

Spann said the faculty and parents at TES realize the important role the arts play in a child’s education.

"The arts provide enrichment experiences that can’t be found anywhere else," he said. "This is a great opportunity for our students at Troy Elementary School and we are excited to be a part of this arts education partnership."

Spann expressed appreciation to the Troy arts council for bringing the city schools on board the arts education partnership with Troy State University and the county school system.

On Nov. 14, students in grades K-3 in both school systems will attend performances of "Sleeping Beauty" presented by the Birmingham Children’s Theater. Later in the year, they will be treated to a ballet and a youth concert.

Dr. David Dye, dean of communication and fine arts at TSU, said a rich arts education program is an indication of good schools and creates a climate conducive to business.

"When a business or industry is looking at a potential location, one of the first things they look at is the school system," Dye said. "A school system that has a rich arts education program will attract business to the community. Where there is such a program, there will be an available work force with critical thinking skills and one that knows how to work together."

The arts education partnership goes far beyond the students’ attendance at enrichment programs.

It begins and continues in the classroom.

"The teachers must be involved in the preparation and follow up if the students are going to reap the full benefits of these programs," Dye said. "We have teachers who are committed to making these programs experiences that set children on fire – that challenge them and motivate them."

Dye said every "art" has

its own language.

"When we teach the languages of art, we add a layer of richness to the lives of our students," he said. "Experiences in a theatrical space are like no other they will have. In the theater, there is a willing suspension of disbelief. The students can escape to wherever the performance takes them. They will be forever change because a layer of richness will have been added to them that can be removed."

"What our students learn through the arts will have a long lasting positive effect," Spann said. "There is no more important experience that we can provide than the one afford to them through the arts education program."