District to Bring Artists to Every School This Year

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Jay Barrett/KMXT

The Kodiak Island Borough School District just received a $10,000 grant from the Alaska State Council on the Arts to help fund its Artists in Schools pilot program called "New Visions." District Assistant Superintendant Marilyn Davidson says this is the third year of a five-year program to revamp Artists in Schools, which has been operated by the state for 30 years.

(Arts 1 25 sec "They started looking at … different in this area.")

Besides the local school district, two others, the Bering Straits and the Copper River school districts, are taking part in the New Visions program. Before it started, Bering Straits, serving 15 schools in Northwest Alaska, occasionally had artists visit some of their schools. The Copper River District, headquartered in Glennallen, didn’t even have an arts curriculum in place for its eight schools. Davidson said the Kodiak district did have a pre-existing arts program that took advantage of Artists in Schools, and so it’s assignment under New Visions was different than the other districts:

(Arts 2 32 sec "Bering Straits and Copper River … nine people at that point.")

Local multi-media artist Elizabeth O’Donnell has participated in the Artists in Schools program, both in town and in Old Harbor.

(Arts 3 34 sec "I highly recommend it … call me ‘Miss Artist.’")

There will be plenty of opportunity for other artists to participate, as another grant to the school will allow the Kodiak district to provide Artists in Schools to every school in the district this year.

Previously, a visiting artist would come to a school for a brief and intense residency, but Davidson says kids learn best if they can think about what it is they’re learning and come back to it later:

(Arts 4 45 sec "So what we’re suggesting … because of a different approach.")

Because of the training the local artists receive through the program, they become qualified to perform residencies at any school in the state:

(Arts 5 33 sec "It actually is a small bit of … and we’re looking for more.")

Davidson says the district is trying to pair projects done with visiting artists with what the students happen to be studying at the time. An example would be if fourth-graders are studying the salmon lifecycle, an artist could present a program on ocean or fisheries art.

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