Art classes in elementary school allow not only for the creation of homemade Mother’s Day cards and hand turkeys but also for the development of lifelong skills and creative processes.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools join many other school districts this week in celebrating National Arts in Education Week. Hannah Murphy, a visual arts teacher at Ephesus Elementary School, recognizes the week both inside and outside of the classroom.
“This week is really more of an advocacy piece for other adults,” Murphy said. “It is a good way to communicate that the arts are important.”
In particular, both teachers and administrators are taking to social media to raise awareness about the positive impact of arts in education. Brenda Whiteman, arts education coordinator for CHCCS, runs a Twitter account dedicated to the arts in the district and plans to post regularly this week in order to showcase the various arts activities occurring in all the different schools.
“We are fortunate to live in a district that is very supportive,” Whiteman said. “The parents' group is very involved in the things that are happening.”
However, both Whiteman and Murphy recognize arts funding has been known to fluctuate across the country and are working to ensure that the arts, including music, remain a part of the education students receive through CHCCS.
“It’s always an uphill battle, but arts help make up a well-rounded education,” Murphy said. “It challenges students in ways that other subjects don’t, and it reinforces social and emotional learning.”
Whiteman echoed Murphy’s sentiment, especially in regards to public schools.
“It is important that all students have access to the opportunity,” Whiteman said. “The arts promote student involvement in school and make students aware of other cultures.”
Caroline Smith, now a first-year at UNC, graduated from Carrboro High School and appreciated the chamber choir class she took during her years there.
“I was in chorus all throughout high school,” Smith said. “I loved it. I had a really great relationship with my chorus teacher. She was always there for students and was a really important figure.”
Smith retained the technique and pitch skills she learned in class, and she used them to join an a capella group, the UNC Walk-Ons, on campus.
Although Smith had such a positive experience in the past, Whiteman emphasized that teachers are looking to the future.
“Technology continues to change and shape the arts as we see them in the world,” she said. “Our teachers are beginning to explore the many possibilities.”
Whiteman urged the public to take the time to visit the CHCCS Arts Twitter account to appreciate the work of students this week and beyond. Additionally, the hashtags link to websites where individuals can write to their Congressperson to express their support of arts in education.
“Good things are happening in the arts,” Whiteman said. “We want to continue them.”
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