By Ann Brown, Director of Arts Education –
Last week, the Tennessee Arts Commission was invited to provide information about grants and programs for teachers and curriculum coordinators attending the Arts Leadership, Administration and Assessment workshop at the Tennessee Arts Academy.
The workshop we offered provided the opportunity for attendees to learn about the Tennessee Arts Commission as an arts education resource in the state. It included a lively discussion about the status of arts education; the role that teachers, artists and administrators play in providing high quality arts education; and examples of successful arts education projects.
Commission Executive Director Anne B. Pope and I also observed an excellent Core Workshop Session titled “Engaging Presence: The Second Circle Work of Patsy Rodenburg and the Alexander Technique” for upper middle and secondary theatre teachers, led by Marlene Johnson. Participants were engaged in experiential learning, growing as both teachers and artists. Groups of teachers met as teams daily with the same instructors allowing for deeper exploration of content.
The Academy also offers professional performances daily. We attended a recital by Elisabeth Small, an assistant professor of music and coordinator of strings at Belmont University School of Music, and World Fiddle, a string quintet that creates distinctive arrangements of world music. The musicians offered beautiful, technically challenging and inspiring works to which the Academy attendees responded with enthusiasm and standing ovations.
Attending this workshop at the Tennessee Arts Academy – whose mission is to provide exceptional quality professional development, arts training, support, encouragement, information and renewal to K-12 teachers and to promote and honor the role of the arts in the lives of all Tennesseans – was a valuable time for us to see a grantee’s work in progress. It also reminded us of what a unique opportunity it is to have a professional development conference for arts specialists of this caliber in Tennessee. Approximately 300 teachers were in attendance and walked away with strategies to implement in their classrooms in the fall.