HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Known as the Whole Schools Initiative, the first comprehensive statewide arts education program in Mississippi provides funds to bring in teaching artist into the classroom to work with students and teachers.
As a model to the program, Oak Grove Primary School hosted a Whole Schools Initiative retreat. Teachers, arts specialists, principals, and superintendents from all around Mississippi were able to experience and observe arts integrated lessons in an actual classroom.
"It allows teachers to learn about the arts, music, dance, theater, and visual arts and learn how to integrate it into their classrooms," says Whole Schools Initiative Director Jodie Engle. "This is not about a teacher trying to be an arts specialist like a music teacher, but we want them to be comfortable enough with the elements of those disciplines so that they can teach it at the same time as they're teaching something else."
The Mississippi Arts Commission's Pre-K to 12th grade program believes that every child deserves to be taught in and through the arts. By attending the training retreats, the program helps teachers facilitate lessons and apply arts in their entire curriculum.
"This allows the teachers to learn about these art forms so that every student has the opportunity to get that art exposure, which we believe will deepen the learning, provide those critical thinking skills needed and other 21st century skills needed so that when they graduate from high school they're college and career ready," says Engle. "We need these innovative, creative thinkers. This is our future here, and so I think by investing in the arts we are making Mississippi a better place."