When the Artists as Educators program began last fall, the Community Foundation and other supporters were excited about the opportunity to link the creative talents of area artists in a new and integral way to children in Birmingham City Schools. One recent evaluation by a participating artist showed the power of this partnership on both the artist and the children.
Laurie Ann Kramer, who worked with fourth-graders at Powderly Elementary School, said she learned so much about the culture of schools, the role of a teaching artist, how to create lesson plans from state standards and manage a classroom, especially while teaching a diverse spectrum of students.
“Not only did I see the impact arts exposure has on development and education, but knowing the teachers can continue with the lessons we created means I left change behind,” Kramer said. “The hands-on method of learning seemed to give birth to students’ creative imagination and need for healthy expression of feelings.”
She saw students develop self-respect and mutual respect and connections build with students who had been isolated from their classmates. Behavior improved and students gained pride in their achievements in rapping about English lessons, as one example.
“Students began to believe in possibilities for their future,” Kramer added. “One student whose self image took flight changed her goal from working as a (store) clerk…to becoming an artist and then further defined herself as an aspiring architect! Complacency and resignation became hope and motivation.”
You can contact Buddy Palmer to find out more about the Artists As Educators program, a cooperative effort led by the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham with support from the Birmingham Board of Education and the Community Foundation. And stay turned for more great work from Kramer and these future high school graduates, Class of 2018.