Puppets take Capitol Hill
Ryan Summerlin February 12, 2014
Monday, Feb. 24, legislators will find some unfamiliar visitors on the Capitol steps: 25 handmade puppets. South Summit Elementary School art teachers Kathleen Briley and Jenny Phillips along with more than 20 other supporters of arts education will take puppets their students have made to the Hill to demonstrate to state legislators the importance of the continuing to fund arts programs.
Briley said South Summit Elementary School is one of 80 that received funding for an arts program last year through the Beverly Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning program. That money is distributed to schools across Utah through state legislation.
"We are just one of the schools that got this program. It’s going to expand each year, and more schools will have access to and more funding for this program if we all share our voices," Briley said. "[The grant] also helps us pay for materials, which is wonderful."
The 2013-14 school year was the first that the South Summit School District had an arts education program, and it is taught in alignment with Utah Arts CORE curriculum.
Briley and Phillips both have degrees in art education, and they help teach students art through lessons that match the state CORE curriculum English, language arts, science, social studies and mathematics.
South Summit Elementary second-graders are covering folk tales, tall tales and fairy tales, so Briley said each of the 125 students made their own puppets. She, Phillips, parents and community members will take those puppets to the Capitol to show legislators the progress they have made with the arts program and ask them to keep the funding coming.
"For this grant, 100 percent of our lessons are supposed to be integrated into the CORE curriculum," Briley said. "The other model for this program is called side-by-side teaching, and we team-teach."
An art teacher, either Briley or Phillips, leads the lesson, but the general education teacher stays in the classroom to help support the program. Briley said it is great to have the teachers in the room with them, which allows them to get a lot more teaching done.
She added that studies show that by integrating arts into the curriculum, oftentimes it will raise test scores. South Summit has chosen to pay special attention to the math scores in the district, so a lot of the lessons are taught integrating into the math CORE curriculum. For example, Briley said she taught a lesson last week on non-numerical pattern sequence right out of the math CORE.
"[Using art] is a way of teaching a lesson that can address different types of intelligence," Phillips said. "Some kids might not be as great in particular subjects, and art is a great vehicle for them to learn with a lot of real hands-on type learning."
The group Friends of Art Works for Kids advocates for the Beverly Taylor Sorenson grant, and they are also the group organizing the visit to the Hill.
Briley said she hopes legislators will see their demonstration and decide to keep funding arts education, which allows students a new and sometimes more effective way to learn.
"There is not enough money in the budget in a lot of schools to hire art teachers, so that funding is coming through the grant," she said. "The way to keep it happening is to show that we really want it and ask our state legislature to prioritize funding for the arts."
For more information on Friends of Art Works for Kids, visit www.artworksforkids.com . To get involved and demonstrate on the Hill on Monday, Feb. 24, to support arts education funding, contact Kathleen Briley at 509-429-8595.