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Mount Vernon Uses Grant To Integrate Art Into Core Subjects

Mount Vernon combines elements of ballet with academics as part of an Arts Integration Program.
Mount Vernon combines elements of ballet with academics as part of an Arts Integration Program. Photo Credit:

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – During a recent Monday morning at Williams Elementary School in Mount Vernon, a classroom of third-graders watched a theatre artist set the scene for a story.

They weren’t in a theatre class, however. They were getting ready to take a math lesson, in which an artist used theatrical elements such as plot and character development to illustrate mathematical word problems.

This course is one example of how Mount Vernon has used its Arts Education Model Development and Dissemination (AEMDD)  grant to integrate arts education into core classes during the last year.  

The grant allows Mount Vernon to host working artists at four elementary schools, provide professional development opportunities for teachers, bring performing arts organizations into the schools, and sponsor field trips to cultural events in the region.

Through these activities, Mount Vernon hopes to engage students to learn academic concepts in new ways with an emphasis on the arts.

To meet this goal, the district has established an arts advisory board consisting of artists and teachers.

“It is important for teachers to make the connection between the art concepts and the classroom content,” said Evelyn Collins, director of Arts and Gifted and Talented at Mount Vernon. 

Teachers have also collaborated by attending events hosted by local partners such as the SUNY Purchase Performing Arts Center.

Mount Vernon also hired an external evaluator to help develop and deploy assessments. Collins meets with the evaluator about twice each month.

“We use data to identify where students’ needs are, and this helps artists and content teachers work together so they can coordinate their lessons,” said Collins. “For example, if test scores show students are struggling with geometry, a math teacher and visual artist may strategize new ways to integrate elements of drawing to illustrate geometric concepts.”

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