The Kennedy Center selected Juneau as its 11th site nationally to work to create a long-range arts education plan for students in grades K-8, using existing resources available in the community. Work began on the project in April, when Juneau School District staff and leadership completed surveys of existing arts education opportunities in the classrooms and the local arts groups identified opportunities provided by their organizations.
A Community Arts Team, comprised of 26 representatives from the school district, arts community, business community, local government and local philanthropists, met monthly throughout the summer to evaluate the information gathered, identify needs, and develop a workable plan to fill those needs with the resources on hand in the community. The plan was adopted Thursday morning, with members committing to work on specific areas of the plan. The project will be coordinated through the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council. People who would like to participate and become involved are invited to contact the Council to sign up.
In 2009, the Kennedy Center initiated the first formal Any Given Child program in Sacramento, Calif., which began phase one of the program in October of that year. Juneau joins now 13 communities across the country looking at effective ways to improve and expand arts education equitably for all of its students in grades K through eight.
Annie Calkins, an education consultant who served on the JAHC Board of Directors for six years, took the lead in advocating for Juneau to become a part of this initiative. She has worked tirelessly as an advocate for arts and education throughout the state, serving at the Alaska Department of Education and as Assistant Superintendent for the Juneau School District. Through her work, the Juneau School District and Juneau Arts & Humanities Council became Kennedy Center Partners in Education, building the Artists in the Schools program and developing Teaching Artist Training programs now used around the state.
Juneau enjoys a very strong arts community, many innovative arts education programs, and a supportive business and governmental infrastructure. Its selection as an Any Given Child site is acknowledgment of this strength, and allows Juneau to further build its leadership in the arts sector by developing models that can work to improve arts education throughout Alaska.
For more information about the JAHC visit www.jahc.org.