Stacie Sanders Evans Selected as a Top 100 Woman

It’s been crystal clear over her 16 years of leading Young Audiences of Maryland, Stacie Sanders Evans rocks! An incredible leader, supporter, mentor, and motivator, Stacie leads us to do more, reach higher, and support more students, families, artists, and educators. It’s great to know others recognize it too: The Maryland Daily Record named Stacie one of its Maryland Top 100 Women Award winners for 2021!

Award winners were selected for their positive impact through leadership, community service, and mentoring—three qualities Stacie brings to Young Audiences every single day. Her fun, positive, passionate approach to leadership sets the tone for our work. Stacie inspires the YA team to create engaging programs that bring joy to students and support them in their academic successes. She truly believes in the arts’ and artists’ power to transform lives. And she understands how to support and manage the many elements of success; we continue to grow as a thriving organization serving more than 250,000 students in every Maryland County and remaining fiscally responsible—especially over the last year.

A heartfelt congratulations to Stacie on this well-deserved honor!

To learn more about the awards and to see the full list of incredible women honored this year, click here.

Celebrating Our Future, Historic Home – Odell’s in Station North

The scene: A Station North community centered around the arts, where Baltimoreans explore, dance, laugh, and learn.

The site: Odell’s, the historic nightclub on North Avenue, which brought Baltimoreans together time and time again to share in the joy of living creatively.

The story: This fall, that same curious, creative spirit will return to the now-vacant building as our new home. We are more honored than words can express.

On Monday, March 15, we celebrated what’s to come at the Odell’s Virtual Groundbreaking. The celebration marked the beginning of a ten-month renovation, preparing the beloved former nightclub to become the home we will share with Code in the Schools.

Moving into a building with a history of such free expression and creativity is an absolute joy. This $6.6 million renovation of the 18,000 square foot building at 19-21 E. North Avenue will transform the building into a community hub for arts-integrated and STEM-based learning. For decades, Young Audiences has been welcomed into school and community buildings across the state. Now, for the first time in our 70-year history, students and their families and caregivers will be able to come to our home and explore their creativity, express themselves, and discover the arts’ power to enhance learning, to enrich communities, and to change lives.

Hundreds watched online as we celebrated on the 15th, with city and educational leaders on-site to honor the day, including Mayor Brandon Scott, City Schools’ CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises, City Councilman Robert Stokes, State Delegate Marlon Amprey, and others.

Like everything we do, the celebration featured arts experiences—with teaching artist Femi the DriFish moving the audience through a spoken word poem to start the day, and teaching artist Amanda Pellerin leading a collective creative experience to close it out. Pellerin is creating a clay mural for installation in the building after having the speakers and few in-person attendees make their impression in a block of clay using an object that, to them, represents learning, creativity, and community.

The excitement was palpable. But don’t take our word for it—here is what a few of our special guests had to say:

Mayor Brandon Scott:
“Thank you to Code in the Schools and Young Audiences for keeping up the tradition of Odell’s… You’ll know when you’ll belong was the saying at Odell’s, and what Young Audiences and Code in the Schools are doing here is telling our young people that they belong. We know the arts are a vital tool in allowing our young people to imagine and envision a future for themselves and their community… We need to allow our young people to dream about what they want Baltimore to be for them. This is how we inspire the beautiful minds of our young people.”

Dr Sonja Santelises:
“It is because of organizations like Young Audiences and Code in the Schools that young people in Baltimore have the kind of enrichment opportunities that are going to allow our community to not only bounce back from the last year of challenge, but actually to move forward. We know that a lot of our young people’s healing, their re-engagement, their belief in themselves, is going to be connected to what’s going to be happening in this building… A lot of that work is because of the dedication we have from partners like Young Audiences and Code in the Schools, who were committed long before this building to young people in Baltimore having the kinds of experiences that make school worth coming back to.”

Find a recording of the ceremony, here. A huge thanks to our partners and funders in this project, including Jubilee Baltimore, Property Consulting Inc, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Central Baltimore Partnership, Central Baltimore Future Fund, The Abell Foundation, and The France-Merrick Foundation.

We’re filled with excitement and anticipation for the day our doors open at Odell’s. We cannot wait to welcome you into our home to explore, create, learn, and have fun. Keep an eye out for updates as our renovation progresses. In the meantime, check out some photos from the celebration.

Odell's Exterior

Young Audiences of Maryland Receives $50,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

BALTIMORE – Young Audiences of Maryland has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support its Principal Fellowship program – a year-long initiative guiding 10 Baltimore City Public School principals in integrating the arts into learning for school-wide improvement.

This grant, which marks the 4th consecutive year that Young Audiences has received NEA funding, is part of the NEA’s nearly $25 million in funding of more than 1,000 Arts Projects nationwide in its first round of 2021 funding. The NEA’s grant to Young Audiences equals its largest commitment in Maryland for this round of funding.

Principals participating in the Fellowship – now in its second year – will create a community of school leaders and peers who share a commitment to justice and joy in education. They will explore the arts’ power to transform school culture, enhance learning and spur social emotional growth. Through collaborative planning sessions, one-on-one coaching by teaching artists, and observations of Young Audiences’ Summer Arts & Learning Academy and cultural institutions, each principal will create an action plan to leverage the arts as a tool for positive change at their schools.

The Principal Fellowship is designed to support Baltimore City Public Schools’ Blueprint For Success priorities of whole child development, literacy, and leadership. Participating principals will receive a $500 honorarium plus $3,000 to help implement arts-based approaches at their schools.

Applications for the Young Audiences Principal Fellowship, which begins in June 2021, are being accepted until April 23 and can be found here.

Analysis of Young Audiences’ work integrating the arts into learning for more than 200,000 students a year – through teaching artist residencies, assemblies, workshops and more – has shown significant impact on academic and social emotional growth. Sharing these strategies and ideas with school principals will exponentially expand that impact.

“We started the Principal Fellowship after seeing that in thriving schools, true commitment to the arts starts with leadership.” said Stacie Sanders Evans, Young Audiences President and CEO. “We’re honored that the NEA’s continued commitment to our work will allow us to continue supporting our school leaders as they support their students and staff..”

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support this project from Young Audiences of Maryland,” said Arts Endowment Acting Chairman Ann Eilers. “Young Audiences is among the arts organizations across the country that have demonstrated creativity, excellence, and resilience during this very challenging year.”

For more information about the Young Audiences Principal Fellowship, or to apply, visit https://www.artsforlearningmd.org/principal-fellowship/

For more information on projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.

Young Audiences Arts for Learning Maryland

About Young Audiences/Arts for Learning:  
Started in Baltimore in 1950, Young Audiences is the nation’s largest arts-in- education provider. As the Maryland affiliate, Young Audiences/Arts for Learning (YA) is devoted to enriching the lives and education of Maryland’s youth through educational and culturally diverse arts programs. Through Young Audiences, professional artists from all disciplines partner with leaders and schools for over 7,000 hands on arts learning experiences that reach more than 190,000 Maryland students. Young Audiences envisions a Maryland where the arts are valued for their capacity to transform lives, and where every student is immersed in opportunities to imagine, to create, and to realize their full potential.

Arts & Learning Kids Show Now Available to All Maryland School Districts

When schools closed last spring, we knew it was time to improvise. Even (or especially!) at home, students need high-quality learning experiences and creative engagement to ensure they continue growing. Closed classrooms presented a significant challenge for artists to collaborate with teachers and inspire students.

Enter Arts & Learning Kids. Young Audiences’ talented team created this arts-integrated TV show where  master teaching artists and educators guide children in fun and inventive math and literacy lessons. The 30-minute, arts-infused episodes—there are more than 100 of them—bring joyous learning to life with music, beat boxing, illustration, puppetry, dancing, and more. Arts & Learning Kids are tailored to specific grades—preK to K, 1st and 2nd, and 3rd to 5th—and the content they are studying.

The shows have been available to Baltimore City and Prince George’s County students through local cable TV channels, on our Facebook page, and through direct, weekly emails to more than 175 educators. And now, EVERY Maryland public school district can purchase these lessons for its students and families!

All Arts & Learning Kids episodes are available for purchase by school districts, educators, and care providers across the state.

The episodes support both remote and in-person learning and can be a useful tool for teachers working with students in both spaces. Check out some highlights, here!

Like all of us in so many ways, we didn’t know what to expect after launching the show. But soon it became clear: thousands of students, families, and educators have used the Arts & Learning Kids shows to stay in touch, add some joy and diversity to their lessons, and continue to learn and grow. And with each show, we include written extensions – academic and arts-based activities that can be taught in a virtual or in-person classroom. As one school principal put it, the shows make it easier for teachers because it is easy to access and the kids are so engaged. “It is central to instruction.”

In the New Year, Arts & Learning Kids will reach more districts, more educators, and more students. Spread the word! If you’re interested in bringing Arts & Learning Kids to your district, students, household, or schools, send an email to katherine@yamd.org.

What Is Our Responsibility To Stand Up For Racial Justice?

Written by Stacie Sanders Evans,
President and CEO of Young Audiences/Arts for Learning

In November, the Director of Arts Administrators of Color, Quanice Floyd, penned an op-ed with the title The Failure of Arts Organizations to Move Toward Racial Equity that called on the national arts advocacy group Americans for the Arts (AftA) to increase transparency and accountability and make progress toward racial equity in its role as a national leader in the arts and culture sector.

My hope is that you will read this piece to understand the many concerns of artists and arts administrators of color; and the many opportunities that AftA was given to respond to these concerns. No wonder Ms. Floyd put the call out for Black, Indigenous, and other POC artists, arts leaders—and the organizations that serve them—“to come together to build agency, support one another, shift the current systems that have alienated members of our community since their inception, and invest in ourselves when these organizations will not.”

Ms. Floyd’s courage in standing up to a titan in the arts caught the attention of many who had observed or experienced harmful actions as well—and resulted in leaders in the arts to call for five actions listed here. The Washington Post has now elevated the voices who are calling for change at AftA. My hope is you will read both of these articles, too.

What Ms. Floyd did, she shouldn’t have had to do. Imagine the risk she had to take in her professional life to call out someone, and an organization with so much power? She displayed a love for our field and a belief in the potential of AftA to do and be better—these are two things we have yet to see from AftA’s board of directors. It is out of love that I write this piece and use our platform to amplify Ms. Floyd’s voice.

Many of you know our organization and me, so you know I am white and lead a nonprofit that predominantly serves Black and brown students in Baltimore City. Our community of staff, board, artists, and teacher faculty has become increasingly and intentionally more racially diverse to better reflect the young people we reach.

What some of you may not know is that Black and brown artists of Young Audiences have loved me and our organization in the same way that Ms. Floyd loves this field and AftA. These artists have shared that there have been times when they have felt hurt, unseen, and ignored by Young Audiences. Their sharing these experiences was a tremendous gift to me—because it helped me understand what I was doing to get in the way of my own commitment to advancing race equity through our work in schools and our organizational structures—but it is a gift that they should never have had to give. We can’t continue to expect people of color to continue these acts of love at their own peril.

It is always Young Audiences’ responsibility to stand up for racial justice. We stand with Ms. Floyd and ask that you do so, too.

Young Audiences of Maryland Wins NSLA 2020 New York Life Excellence in Summer Learning Award

BALTIMORE – Young Audiences of Maryland, the Baltimore-based nonprofit delivering arts-integrated learning experiences to Maryland students and educators, has won the National Summer Learning Association’s 2020 New York Life Foundation Excellence in Summer Learning Award for its Summer Arts & Learning Academy (SALA). Young Audiences was selected out of more than 350 applying organizations from across the country.

The 2020 New York Life Foundation Excellence in Summer Learning Award award honors Young Audiences’ Summer Arts & Learning Academy – operated in partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools – for curbing summer learning loss. While most children lose up to two months of math skills over the summer, the cumulative effects of summer learning loss are most detrimental to students living in under-resourced communities. Young Audiences has also been recognized for demonstrating excellence in accelerating academic achievement, promoting healthy development for children and youth, supporting educator professional development and enhancing family and community engagement. The award included a $10,000 donation to Young Audiences. Past award winners have included West Virginia University, Hasbro, Ohio State, and the YMCA.

“Our teaching artists, educators, and staff do incredible work every year to provide excellent arts and educational experiences to students in Title1 Baltimore City Public Schools through the Summer Arts & Learning Academy,” said Stacie Sanders Evans, Young Audiences President & CEO. “We are proud and thankful to be honored with this award, which validates what we’ve known all along: the arts transform learning for students.”

SALA is a free, five-week, summer program typically engaging more than 2,000 Baltimore students a year in hands-on, arts-based learning guided by professional teaching artists and educators. The seven year old program has been shown by multiple independent studies to reduce summer learning loss, increase student confidence and engagement, and transform how teachers teach. For example, SALA students may use beat boxing to support math instruction, paint their favorite scenes from stories they are reading, or explore the art of photography to learn about the nature all around them. This kind of programming is designed to make learning more accessible for students, and to influence traditional educational systems to empower all students to express their voices and experiences.

The awards are presented annually by the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), the only national nonprofit exclusively focused on closing the achievement gap by increasing access to high-quality summer learning opportunities.

“Our teaching artists, educators, and staff do incredible work every year to provide excellent arts and educational experiences to students in Title1 Baltimore City Public Schools through the Summer Arts & Learning Academy,” said Stacie Sanders Evans, Young Audiences President & CEO. “We are proud and thankful to be honored with this award, which validates what we’ve known all along: the arts transform learning for students.”

“This award validates the creative approach of Baltimore City Public Schools and Young Audiences to using the summer months to address the opportunity gaps in our city,” said Dr. Sonia Santelises, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools. “When we bring artists into our classrooms in the summer they spark curiosity, creativity, and a desire to learn that fuels our students’ academic growth.”

Young Audiences Arts for Learning Maryland

About Young Audiences/Arts for Learning:
Started in Baltimore in 1950, Young Audiences is the nation’s largest arts-in-education provider. As the Maryland affiliate, Young Audiences/Arts for Learning (YA) is devoted to enriching the lives and education of Maryland’s youth through educational and culturally diverse arts programs. Through Young Audiences, professional artists from all disciplines partner with leaders and schools for nearly 10,000 hands-on arts learning experiences that reach more than 190,000 Maryland students. Young Audiences envisions a Maryland where the arts are valued for their capacity to transform lives, and where every student is immersed in opportunities to imagine, to create, and to realize their full potential.

About the National Summer Learning Association
The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) is the only national nonprofit exclusively focused on closing the achievement gap by increasing access to high-quality summer learning opportunities. NSLA recognizes and disseminates what works in summer learning, develops and delivers community capacity-building offerings and convenes and empowers key actors to embrace summer learning as a solution for equity and excellence in education. For more information, visit www.summerlearning.org/.

Internships – A Crucial Stepping Stone for Success

Written by Barbara Krebs,
Young Audiences volunteer and Sunburst Society member

Classes may be just about to wrap up, but for 33 Baltimore students who have accepted positions in the Bloomberg Arts Internship this summer, a different kind of learning experience is only beginning. Young Audiences, with funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, established a now eight-week program three years ago to offer paid internships to rising high school seniors. Twenty local arts facilities and museums are currently providing jobs that offer a wide range of dance, music, art, theatre, cultural, and curatorial opportunities.

It’s no great secret that internships are often viewed (and rightfully so) as stepping stones to higher education opportunities and greater career possibilities. Internships offer high school and college students crucial job skills and mentorship relationships that help them stand out in an often crowded job market. But paid internships can be few and far between.

The Bloomberg Arts Internship aims to make paid internships in the arts and culture field more inclusive and available to students who otherwise may not have the opportunity to network and build skills in that professional setting. 

More than 30 high school students in the crosswalk with buildings along North Avenue in the distance behind them.

An article–How Internships Are Changing the Art World–from Artsy.net has this to say about how intertwined the relationships and skill building are. “It’s not only that your intern could be your successor, they might one day be your colleague,” said Selene Preciado, program assistant for the Getty Marrow Undergraduate Internships in Los Angeles.

Indeed, they might! But these Bloomberg Arts internships go far beyond job training and networking, as important as these are. These students will gain familiarity and comfort with workplace etiquette, improve verbal and written communication skills, explore cultural assets in our city, develop critical life and work skills, and prepare to apply and transition into college. In addition, the program aims to encourage a more equitable and diverse range of staff and audiences among cultural institutions, while instilling in the students an understanding and appreciation of the important civic contributions of arts and culture.

That’s a lot to learn in just eight weeks! And yet, these arts internships provide not just amazing arts education, the students also strengthen their:

  • computer capabilities (Center Stage – “how to use leading software for the industry”) 
  • research, interview, and publishing skills (Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts – “the student will research history, interview artists, and ultimately publish a youth-organized ‘tour’ of murals and sculptures”)
  • proficiencies in following a project to completion (Maryland Film Festival – by curating and promoting short films, the student will “be involved in every aspect, from curation to marketing to execution.”)  

Interns are gathered in a hallway. A teenage girl in the foreground is glancing to her right. Another girl in a baseball cap smiles brightly behind her.

In short, skills to last a lifetime. In the Artsy article, Maxwell Anderson, president of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation in Atlanta said, “Museums desperately need talent in all sorts of positions–curators represent a fraction of the staff of museums. We’d be thrilled if an accountant emerges from [our program] and finds their way into the museum profession, but they’re an accountant who has knowledge and experience in a particular cultural remit that otherwise they may not have.”

In the short bios that the students provided, I noticed one recurring theme: learning. These are students who have a passion for learning, who will make the most of their internship, and who will carry what they learn with them into the future. I have no doubt that they will take this small stepping stone and use it to build a solid foundation in the years to come.

Young Audiences Selected as Grantee of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ AIM Program

Young Audiences / Arts for Learning Maryland will participate in $43 million program

Young Audiences announced that it is a grantee recipient of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Arts Innovation and Management (AIM) program. The invitation-only program seeks to strengthen the organizational capacity and programming of small and mid-size cultural organizations within Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. Through the $43 million multi-year initiative, Bloomberg Philanthropies will provide unrestricted general operating support as well as arts management training in areas that include fundraising, strategic planning, marketing, and board development.

“We’re incredibly thankful for Bloomberg Philanthropies’ support as we work to infuse and enhance student learning with hands-on arts experiences throughout Maryland,” said Stacie Sanders Evans, Young Audiences/Arts For Learning President and CEO. “This crucial funding will strengthen our organizational capacity and support all of our programs, from year-round arts-integrated classroom residencies to teacher and artist professional development.”

AIM targets arts non-profits because of the vital role that they play in building communities, driving local economies and supporting artists. “The arts inspire people, provide jobs, and strengthen communities,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies. “This program is aimed at helping some of the country’s most exciting cultural organizations reach new audiences and expand their impact.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies will develop curricula and conduct seminars for the program in partnership with leading experts, including the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland, led by Institute Chairman Michael M. Kaiser and President Brett Egan. AIM organizations will engage in activities that strengthen their long-term health and goals, and will receive one-on-one consultations and implementation support for organization leaders and their boards.

All organizations invited to participate in the 2018 expansion of the AIM program are nonprofits that have been in existence for at least two years. Participating organizations will be required to secure 20% of their AIM grant in matching dollars; reach 100% board participation in fundraising; and maintain up-to-date information in DataArts, an online management tool that assists arts organizations across the country in collecting, learning from, and using data effectively. The grants will be unrestricted to allow recipients to utilize the funds to address their greatest needs.

Since 2011, AIM has helped more than 500 small and mid-sized organizations in all creative disciplines, including theater, visual arts, music, film, literature and dance. Participating organizations reported significant improvements in board development, fundraising and overall income over the two-year program. Watch this video for an overview of the Arts Innovation and Management program:

Young Audiences' Sun

About Young Audiences/Arts for Learning Maryland

Young Audiences is the nation’s largest arts-in-education provider and started in Baltimore in 1950. As a Young Audiences affiliate, Young Audiences/Arts for Learning (YA) is a nonprofit organization devoted to enriching the lives and education of Maryland’s youth through educational and culturally diverse arts programs for more than 65 years. Each year, YA reaches more than 180,000 students through over 5,000 arts learning experiences by partnering professional artists from all disciplines with schools throughout Maryland for hands-on arts learning experiences. We envision a Maryland where the arts are valued for their capacity to transform lives, and where every student is immersed in opportunities to imagine, to create, and to realize their full potential through the arts. For more information, contact YA at (855) 245-2787 or visit yamd.org.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies works in over 480 cities in more than 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2017, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $702 million. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org.

Building a Network of Support in the Arts

The school year may only have just ended, but this year’s cohort of Bloomberg Arts Interns have already been hard at work for three weeks now. They attended a week of rigorous orientation and participated in behind-the-scenes tours and presentations at arts organizations. And perhaps most significantly, interns have gotten their feet through the doors of a number of reputable arts and culture organizations and have begun weaving themselves into passionate and supportive arts and education networks.

Outside of their internships, the students participate in professional development, college prep workshops, and writing coaching sessions. On these days, students receive guidance and support with completing college applications and build strong career skills with mentors and writing coaches. They create personal essays, write responses to art and performances, and work not just on college applications, but prepare for the bills, the challenges, and the change that comes along with transitioning to a college or university.

Two of last year’s Bloomberg Arts Interns (from left), Sequoia and Jahsol

Two of last summer’s Bloomberg Arts Interns, Jahsol and Sequoia, will be headed to Bard College at Simon’s Rock and the Arts Institute of Chicago, respectively, in the fall. But first, the pair visited students at OpenWorks to answer questions and give them insight into their own internship experiences last summer. The questions poured in. While just a year older than the 2018 interns, Jahsol and Sequoia had so much knowledge, experience, and wisdom to impart, getting this year’s cohort excited about the possibilities to come.

College panel (from left) Ruben Ramirez Jr., Danielle Staton, and De’asia Ellis

A college panel brought together three community members to talk about first-hand challenges, solutions, and to provide conversation and guidance in applying and adjusting to college life: Danielle Staton, Program Manager of Fund for Educational Excellence; De’asia Ellis, a Frederick Douglass High School graduate and current Goucher College student; and Ruben Ramirez Jr., a graduate of Digital Harbor High School and restaurant entrepreneur.

From practical advice, like applying to more than one school and developing a plan for time management, to being prepared to handle rejection, facing culture shock and loneliness away from home, or confronting ignorance and discrimination, the panellists shared valuable online resources and their honest experiences to help prepare the interns for what may come in the next year, not to mention all the steps required just to apply. “It’s hard when families don’t know how to get there,” said Ms. Ellis. She advises students who may not have family to support them through the daunting application process to find a mentor to help guide them.

As the summer progresses, this year’s cohort will continue to be afforded the chance to explore art of every discipline, and to meet and learn from artists, curators, and everyone else who works so hard to keep local institutions dynamic, engaging, up, and running. And while they are busy working on projects for their worksites, they will be networking. They will be making lasting connections, opening themselves up to all that is possible in a career in the arts, and forging their futures.

The Bloomberg Arts Internship is managed by Young Audiences through the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies. Learn more about the program here.

North County High School: Creating Learning Opportunities Through the Arts

The Arts Empowered Minds Initiative (AEMI) is aimed at ensuring equitable access to the arts for Northern Anne Arundel County Public Schools through in-school arts integration, out-of-school arts programming, and professional development for teachers. Now in its second year, the initiative has been expanded to include all twelve schools in the region thanks to generous funding from the National Endowment for the Arts!

North County High School

Notable among the additional schools is the North County High School (NCHS). All students in every other school impacted by AEMI are zoned to complete their secondary education at this high school. North County High School’s new designation as an AEMI school will enable local students to continue their learning through arts integration throughout their school years. This creates a unique opportunity for the school to serve as a beacon for arts engagement, not just for high school students, but for the whole Northern Anne Arundel County community.

NCHS is already home to a variety of performing band and orchestra ensembles, and offers students the opportunity to become involved in a number of in-school and after-school arts activities. “The medium of music is a fantastic way to teach some wonderful life lessons as part of the comprehensive program at North County,” wrote NCHS Music Director Theresa Bange on the school’s extensive music program’s webpage. The school climate encourages a culture of respect for the arts in its many forms. NCHS has also shown a commitment to innovation, offering special programs including the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) Magnet Program, the IT3 (International Trade, Transportation, and Tourism) Program, and the Early College Access program.

This year, the high school will participate in several arts-integrated opportunities where artists will professionally deliver instruction through the arts. Math Department chair Amy Goodman is leading the charge of integrating the arts at North County High. She is currently coordinating a residency developed by YA artist and spoken word poet Femi the DriFish in collaboration with the school’s Algebra 1 team as well as collaborating with theatre artist, storyteller, and YA roster artist TAHIRA to develop a residency through the Teaching Artist Institute (TAI). Also through TAI, 9th grade algebra teacher Sarah Dobry is collaborating with steel drummer, Kevin Martin, integrating music with the curriculum!

“It’s all about creating opportunities,” said Mrs. Goodman. She recalled her experience working with teaching artist Carolyn Koerber in the previous school year. “There was one student who struggled all year, but finally felt success working with Carolyn. Bringing artists into the classroom is an amazing opportunity for not only our students, but for faculty as well.”

We are looking forward to sharing the collaborative work of YA artists and educators in arts integration at North County High School over the next few months and for years to come.

The Arts Empowered Minds Initiative is the combined effort of many groups and individuals seeking to build a movement for increased equity through the arts in their community. With funding from the NEA in 2016, we built partnerships with Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS), Chesapeake Arts Center (CAC), Arts Education in Maryland Schools Alliance (AEMS), Arts Council of Anne Arundel County, and University of Maryland – Baltimore County (UMBC).

Tasty Monster Productions: Tackling Bullying Through Empathy

Promoting empathy and kindness in all schools is a priority across school systems, with particular attention paid to encouraging a positive school climate in the month of October, National Bullying Prevention Month. New YA roster artist Tasty Monster Productions designed an award-winning program to open communication in the classroom and inspire students and teachers to engage in conversations about social issues such as loss and bereavement, the many guises of bullying, the necessity of kindness and empathy, and the power of our words in society.

Tasty Monster Production’s Ferdinand is a powerful and moving modern adaptation of the classic children’s book The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. “Ferdinand tells the poignant story of Tom, a single dad, struggling to go with the flow and raise his son in a world determined to make him fight,” says the artist. “Raised on the story of his namesake Ferdinand, the bull who refused to fight but just wanted to sit and smell the flowers, young Ferdy learns the hard lessons in life as his father endeavors to shield him from the harsh realities of adulthood.”

A 2013 Congressional Research Service report found that these school-based bullying prevention programs decrease bullying by up to 25%.

Researchers have found that programs designed to build character and empathy, address conflict management, and enhance social- and emotional-development are successful at reducing bullying behaviors (Swearer, Wang, Collins, Strawhun, & Fluke, 2014). School systems have rightly begun implementing strategies and hosting programs to address concerning behavior and educate both adult and peer communities to recognize the signs and effects of bullying. A 2013 Congressional Research Service report found that these school-based bullying prevention programs decrease bullying by up to 25%. And since peer interventions have been found to end 57% incidents of bullying (Hawkins, Pepler, & Craig, 2001), it is imperative that schools keep the dialogue open year-round about what it means to be kind, how to listen, and the importance of empathy and understanding.

Schools searching for meaningful, current, and effective programming to relay a message of positivity will find an ally in Tasty Monster Productions. “Ferdinand is a hard-hitting yet heart-warming one-man show which takes the audience on a journey of rebirth. Told from the perspective of Tom, a hard-working middle manager, this is the story of a father bringing up his son with empathy and kindness in a world that seems determined to push him in all the wrong directions. Through Tom we experience all the joys and all the heartbreaks of growing up, as well as quite a few very real parental dilemmas, as he battles to preserve the innocence of childhood despite corporate downsizing, classroom peer pressure, and mixed social messages about what it means to be a man in this contemporary twist on a grown-up fairy tale.”

Tasty Monster Productions brings engaging new and re-envisioned works to a broad audience while expanding the use of technology and multi-media as a tool for storytelling. Learn how to bring Tasty Monster Production’s award-winning performance, Ferdinand, into your school.

Meet the Parents

It was a summer filled with activity, singing, dancing, reading, creating, and sunshine. We witnessed the excitement of mastering new skills and discovering new talents. We felt the calm of classrooms illuminated with only the rays of light peeking in from behind drawn shades, students enveloped in peace, quietly drawing, ink and graphite on white paper.

When families initially enrolled their children in our Summer Arts and Learning Academy, we asked them why their child was interested in participating. Many stated that their children were creative and hoped that through the program, they’d be able to enhance their skills. Others emphasized the integrated academics or latent benefits of the arts. Some registrants celebrated the availability of the arts and educational summer program, as these opportunities are limited in Baltimore City.

Students learned to sew and weave with fiber artist Katherine Dilworth at Thomas Jefferson Elementary Middle School.

Did our Summer Arts and Learning Academy live up to families’ expectations? Culmination ceremonies came to a close, classrooms were disassembled and packed up for next year, and students prepared for their next summer adventures. We asked parents and families if they’d give us feedback about their experience by filling out a survey. Their responses poured in- 413 of them to be exact. We discovered that in Summer Arts and Learning Academy, parents watched their children not only learn, but grow and thrive artistically, emotionally, and academically.

When asked about any positive changes they noticed in their kids, one parent replied, “An eagerness to attend school. IN THE SUMMER! Who knew?!”

A student at Coldstream Park Elementary Middle School discovered that she had a talent for working with clay.

87% of families who completed surveys told us that their child found something new that he or she has fun doing. “My son began to enjoy sewing and dancing,” one parent told us. Another let us know that her grandson was very proud of the work he did in ceramics class. “He usually gives me all of his drawings and art projects, but he kept his claywork for himself.”

Even when one particular art form grabbed a student’s interest above all others, the children in Summer Arts and Learning Academy developed a deeper appreciation of and openness to all art. Students discovered that flexibility leads to new passions, discovery, and opportunity. “I learned that I am exceptionally good at ceramics. I knew I would like it but I didn’t know I would actually be good at it,” a rising sixth grader told us. “She was disappointed that the Coldstream Park site didn’t offer theatre for older kids,” her dad explained. “We’re working on ‘rolling with it,’ though, and she ended up really loving African Dance and Ceramics. She would never have known, otherwise.”

Parents told us that their kids were excited to get to the academy every morning, on time. When families reunited in the afternoons, kids would talk and talk about everything they did that day. When asked about any positive changes they noticed in their kids, one parent replied, “An eagerness to attend school. IN THE SUMMER! Who knew?!”

Upwards of 80% of parents who responded told us that they noticed an increase in their child’s reading and math skills. With this strengthening of skills, their children became more confident. Of one student who enjoys writing poetry, we were told, “she will now actually share her writing with others.” Many families reported their children not only enjoying reading but choosing to read books over watching television. Still others described students proudly reading on their own and teaching younger siblings what they had learned.

Visual Arts students at James Mosher Elementary School segmented spaces and filled them with patterns using lines and shapes.

The positive changes parents noticed in their children exemplified 21st Century Skills, a set of higher order skills that have been identified by educators and business leaders as being critical to a person’s success in careers, in college, and as a citizen. These are skills that typically cannot be measured through standardized testing and include critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity.

Through Summer Arts and Learning Academy, students were introduced to many new ways of thinking, seeing, and expression. They learned to look at things from different perspectives through the eyes artists, characters in literature, and through new friends, which made their own experiences more joyful and meaningful. Children embraced their curiosity, asking questions, exploring, and researching independently. “My daughter is better able to integrate her love of arts (fun) with learning (not as much fun) and see ways to make learning something that’s both fun and something she can accomplish,” one mom told us.

Students choreographed and performed an original dance for their culminating performance at James Mosher Elementary School.

Families described their students as being more social, friendly, outgoing, and connected. One student told her mom that she “enjoys being a loving and caring friend.” Another student “wants to take care of the neighborhood.” Students discovered that they liked working in groups and parents thought their children were now better able to deal with conflict. Through collaboration, the kids learned how to communicate, compromise, and achieve a common goal. They learned to ‘roll with it’, an enviable and necessary skill for 21st century children and adults alike.