(Sisters Folk Festival — December 6, 2015) —
A 2013 Oregon Arts Commission report says arts education plays a vital role in developing students who become innovators and engaged citizens. Yet many Oregon communities are still struggling to integrate arts programming into the school day. In 2012, one in five elementary-aged students in Oregon attended a school with no access to arts curriculum.
Sisters Elementary School is not one of those schools.
In 2014, through a community partnership with Sisters Folk Festival (SFF) and a grant from the Fred W. Fields Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, SFF hired a contractor to assist with arts integration at the school.
Karen Williams began her work last year, the first year in a three-year program coordinated by SFF, by helping elementary school teachers create an “art path” in their classrooms. Each day she was tasked with attending different classes, working with both the students and teachers integrating arts into the curriculum.
“The teachers here are awesome,” says Williams. “So many of them had pieces of art programming or creative thinking already in their curriculum, I was able to assist by helping with additional integration opportunities.”
This year it’s all changed. Her classes have transitioned from an integration format to a complete arts experience for students. Every afternoon, Williams hosts four classes back-to-back as a part of the elementary school scheduling wheel. Williams has her own classroom, outside, behind the elementary school in the modular building, where every third day students experience a class dedicated to the arts at school.