Can you imagine a learning environment where science intertwines with dance, ELA merges with music, and history interacts with visual arts? Can you see the possibility of any correlation between the pairs?
At KID smART, they’re on a mission to integrate education and imagination through their unique, holistic approach to contemporary teaching methods. The executive director, Elise Gallinot Goldman reveals how KID smART has thrived for nearly 25 years and how they are leading the charge for accessible arts education.
“Arts should be accessible to all students in New Orleans,” says Gallinot Goldman, “We want to help be a part of providing those rich opportunities for our kids.”
In 1999, two New Orleans artists, Allison Stewart and Campbell Hutchinson, noticed the lack of arts programs in public schools. What started the program of only 1 school and 20 children, quickly boomed into audiences of 63,000 students and 11,000 teachers throughout the history of KID smART. This includes programming in and out of schools and professional development for educators and artists.
The official KID smART mission is to engage children and educators in dynamic, creative, and relevant learning through the arts. To break this down, Gallinot Goldman explains, “It’s not just about helping students become artists. It’s really about helping students find more joyful and engaging ways to learn.”
But how exactly can you incorporate arts into everyday school subjects, and what difference does it make for our students? Gallinot Goldman describes science and dance as a great example. In one class, students learned about sound waves through a combination of dance and music. She even recalls a time when students were witnessed going through different dance motions to help them through a regular, pencil-and-paper science quiz.
Take history and theater as another example. Children read historical documents and complete research before they step into the shoes of those famous, historical figures. Through acting, they begin to conceptualize how decisions were being made at that time and can learn how to debate specific topics as if they were those people.
“We’re finding that performing visual arts helps students not just to understand and comprehend the words they’re reading, but [to also create] that excitement about wanting to read,” says Gallinot Goldman.
Aside from meeting those educational goals, KID smART artists are also trained to incorporate social and emotional literacy foundations into their classrooms. Whether teachers are focusing on acts of teamwork or helping their students individually, they’re always teaching them how to express themselves proudly and powerfully. These acts of artistic expression, academic desire, and social and emotional competencies all weave together to create the foundation for KID smART.
Gallinot Goldman and her peers see the arts not as a luxury, but as something that should happen in all schools. This is why it is so important for them to reach historically marginalized students, children with disabilities, and English language learners as a way for them to feel accomplished too, in a way that doesn’t always exist in traditional classrooms.
So how can you support this mission? It all starts with investing in helping our teachers, so they can best help our children. Schools and parents looking to integrate the arts into their academic programs can learn how to get involved on the KID smART website. With its focus on kindergarten through eighth-grade schools, Gallinot Goldman hopes to expand the program by bringing the transformative work to older students. As the 25th anniversary of KID smART draws near, the biggest thing on their mind is the future of your children and their education.
For more information, visit Kid smART online at kidsmart.org.