Mississippi Arts Commission’s Whole Schools Summer Institute “Getting to the Core of a 21st Century Education”

The Mississippi Arts Commission’s 15th Annual Whole Schools Initiative Summer Institute will offer educators new and innovative ideas for classroom arts integration. This year’s Institute will be held at the MSU Riley Center in Meridian, July 15 – 18, and will focus on “Getting to the Core of a 21st Century Education”.
Approximately 300 teachers, parents, artists, administrators and pre-service educators from more than 40 schools will gather in Meridian to learn about arts integration, a teaching strategy that allows students to create a deeper understanding of a subject while they are learning about an art form. The Institute’s highly professional training will give educators of all backgrounds the inspiration, knowledge and art skills to lead their students toward the goal of reaching full academic potential.
“The Mississippi Arts Commission is proud to provide educators with this outstanding professional development opportunity,” said Sallye Killebrew, Interim Executive Director of MAC. “We are committed to showing the value of teaching the arts across the curriculum and what a difference it can make for the future of Mississippi’s children.”
The Institute will begin on Monday, July 15, with arts integration presentations by Kennedy Center Teaching Artists, Sean Layne and Melanie Layne. During lunch, Dr. Judith Phillips of the John C. Stennis Institute, will reveal the findings of recent research showing the positive results from schools involved in the Whole Schools Initiative. Parents will join in the fun on Tuesday, July 16, for a day of introduction to the arts and arts integration. They will be given instruction on the vital role the arts play in continuing student learning outside the classroom. Parents from all over the state will join teachers, administrators and artists to engage in arts experiences, create arts integrated lesson plans, and network with artists from their community. The Institute provides a unique opportunity to learn how to teach critical thinking and problem solving through visual art, dance/movement, music and theatre/drama. Other special guest presenters include Kennedy Center Teaching Artists, Marcia Daft, Lenore Kelner, Sherry and Bobby Norfolk, Julie White and other state and national presenters.
This summer, teachers of students with disabilities who work in self-contained classrooms will receive professional training in a newly created track that will provide a hands-on opportunity to engage in arts experiences while exploring principles of Universal Design for Learning. Mississippi Teaching artist, Tom Harmon and self-contained SPED teacher Tonya Brackett from St. Richard Catholic School will model strategies that connect to Individualized Education Plan goals, while providing tools to effectively integrate the arts for all students to experience. This program is provided through a partnership with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Early childhood care providers who work with three- and four-year-olds will be treated to a two-day experience that connects early childhood curriculum with the arts. A panel of early childhood education experts will begin the day by discussing the importance of a complete education through the arts, followed by a two-day intensive track that focuses on theatre and literature in the classroom. This experience is funded by the Mississippi Department of Education.
Featured speakers for this year’s Institute are the stars of “Music from the Heart” featuring Kim Carnes, John Ford Coley, Gene Cotton, Lenny LeBlanc, with special guest Greg Barnhill.
Since 1991, the Mississippi Arts Commission has provided grant funds, technical assistance and professional development opportunities to Mississippi schools. It is the goal of the Commission to assist schools in the development and implementation of arts-based, interdisciplinary curriculum. The Institute was created 15 years ago to offer comprehensive professional development opportunities educators need to deliver effective arts-infused instruction. In addition to the Institute training, participating Whole Schools receive up to $5,000 a year in services which include professional development at on-site and off-site locations by state and national experts in arts integration. Schools new to the program are given opportunities to visit model schools, assigned a teacher advisor and receive workshops in all four art discipline areas. The longer schools commit to the program, the more professional development opportunities they will receive to meet the school’s academic goals.
The Whole Schools Initiative program is open to pre-kindergarten through 8th grade and strives to engage everyone from principals to parents to work toward integrating the arts into existing school curricula in order to further prove the powerful role the arts play in engaged learning. Visit the WSI website at www.mswholeschools.org to learn more about Whole Schools and the annual Institute. For more information about the Mississippi Arts Commission, visit http://www.arts.ms.gov.

The Mississippi Arts Commission is a state agency funded by the Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mississippi Department of Education, the Riley Foundation, the Phil Hardin Foundation, the Mississippi Endowment for the Arts at the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson and other private sources. MAC is the official grants-making and service agency for the arts in Mississippi. The agency serves as an active supporter and promoter of arts in community life and in arts education.