The excitement was palpable as young artists moved from project tables to pottery wheels to guest artist demonstrators during the fifth annual Community Arts Celebration held Saturday, Feb. 7, in the Thunder Mountain High School commons. Even the loss of lights, due to a power outage, did little to diminish the experience.
Arts for Kids, a local non-profit that actively assisted the Juneau School District in launching the Juneau Elementary Art program in 2005, hosts this community event every year to celebrate the Juneau School District's efforts to support and sustain high-quality, age-specific visual art education in the public schools.
The Elementary Art Program started with two half-time art teachers, and has grown to be fully staffed with three full-time teachers. The teachers develop new art lessons and teach them to students while modeling practices in art education for the classroom teacher. They also turn these lessons into kits that can be checked out the following year by district teachers.
The art teachers have developed 60 kits so far, integrating art instruction into grade-level curriculum by linking art with reading and writing, math, Alaska Native culture, science, social studies and health.
An additional 83 kits have been given to the district as part of the Fairbanks School District ARTiculate grant. Since the beginning of the school year, 750 kits have been checked out by district classroom teachers. This means that even when district art teachers are not teaching in a particular school, classroom teachers are checking out kits and teaching art lessons, thus infusing art into classroom curriculum on a more regular basis.