“It is all about promoting the arts as a tool for learning. It’s about teachers using the arts in their classrooms as a media of translation
and full bodied expression of their curriculum content. It is a powerfully effective teaching methodology…”
Five o’clock, we wake up, showers, finish packing, take care of the dogs, the cats, the chickens, the boy, load the car and go! But it’s been snowing for hours.
We barely get out our long driveway to the road and then to I-25 where it’s single lane travel at a dark, snowy, slippery 45 mph. We ain’t gonna make our flight.
But then, as we descend 2000 feet into the Rio Grande Valley, the snow stops, the road clears and we hit cruise speed. Mississippi here we come!
A few hours later we land at the intergalactic airport of Meridian, with its one gate. It’s raining sideways. But we are so happy to be here. The instant we set foot on the ground,
we are embraced by Mississippi hospitality and kindness. It’s like walking into a many layered story, rich with southern pathos, wit and artistry; and a rare unjaded congeniality that
defies the cynicism of a yonder world.
We are whisked off to our destination, the MSU Riley Center, smiling ear to ear. Our first impression is the grandeur of this historic building from the street.
But now we are inside and touring the authentically restored, visually stunning 1889 grand opera house theater. Wow! Its brilliant acoustics rival any modern auditorium.
A few minutes later we meet our host and the reason we are here. Her name is Charlotte Tabereaux, and she is the Educational Director of the Riley Center. She is a true ambassador for
arts integrated education, helping to put Mississippi State University Riley Center at the cutting edge of this extraordinary movement. They are affiliated and in partnership with
The Kennedy Center, which is the epicenter of the nation’s arts integrated education movement.
It is all about promoting the arts as a tool for learning. It’s about teachers using the arts in their classrooms as a media of translation and full bodied expression of their curriculum
content. It is a powerfully effective teaching methodology, and…it’s the foundation of Songs To Educate.
So here we are, at The Riley Center to do a one day professional development workshop with thirty inspired teachers from area elementary, middle and high schools. It is a marriage of
The first three hours were engaged in Human Body School songs and movement choreography mini workshops. Each song stands on its own but also provides a fun and engaging
framework for arts integrated learning. The songs are springboards into exploration within subjects such as the human body or earth sciences or math or geography… Children love it.
They love theaterizing these educational songs.
In the afternoon we visited a very special arts education school called Poplar Springs where we met with 24 second graders. It was an opportunity for our teacher trainees to
observe the work in action.
There were some beautiful moments. First of all, this group of children had never met us before. You have to ‘win’ them in the first two minutes. It requires humor, warmth, fascination,
love, respect, trust and complete ease of control. We didn’t have those qualities when we started 19 years ago. But we do now. After an hour doing songs, rhythm, movement, dance and a
choreographed workshop into the circulatory-respiratory systems, the children did not want to say goodbye.
Our mission is to help teachers catch the way of it. We feel a kindred mission with Kennedy Center partner organizations like the The Riley Center in Mississippi and ALTO –
Active Learning Through Opera in Santa Fe. It is an honor to be in such gifted company. Arts Integration is key to an education renaissance in this country.
It’s a grassroots movement all the way, beginning with passionate teachers like the ones we just met, who want to make a difference; teachers who know Art is a process, not a product;
and that Education is only as effective as the art through which it is conveyed.