UCCS Presents Education Program selected for prestigious Kennedy Center Partnership

Michelle Winchell, UCCS Presents, (719) 255-3114, mwinchel@uccs.edu Jared Verner, UCCS, (719) 255-3732, (719) 648-6275, jverner@uccs.edu
Jen Lennon, an education coordinator with the UCCS Presents Education Program, conducts a lesson for the Shakespeare in the Schools program at Academy District 20’s Challenger Middle School.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts selected two Colorado Springs teams for its prestigious Partners in Education program, designed to assist arts organizations throughout the nation in developing or expanding education partnerships with their local school systems. University of Colorado Colorado Springs Presents will work with Academy District 20 and the Fine Arts Center at Colorado College with District 11, representing two out of seven new teams nationwide. A primary focus of the Kennedy Center partnerships is to provide sustainable and robust arts-based professional development for teachers.

“I’m thrilled that our professional development programs for teachers will be enriched by this relationship with the Kennedy Center, ” said Joye Cook-Levy, education and outreach program director, UCCS Presents. “Our participation in the Partners in Education Institute will strengthen our upcoming collaboration with the UCCS College of Education as we invite Colorado Springs educators to join us in our Summer Institute for Creative Teaching Practice.”

While numerous studies point to the value of arts education in improving student outcomes, teachers may not have the resources, access, or training to implement arts integration across their curriculum. Strategic partnerships with professional arts organizations in the community can provide teachers with high-quality, arts-based professional development. This support connects teachers and students with access points for creative learning.

“The arts engage the whole child in creative thinking, collaboration, cross-cultural understanding and communication. It inspires and transforms students, supporting them in becoming life-long learners as well as future citizens,” said Mario Rossero, senior vice president of education at the Kennedy Center. “Essential to engaging the student is empowering educators with tools and skills to incorporate the arts into classrooms. Partners in Education not only assists with providing these tools but the learning experiences through the program foster and develop stronger collaborative relationships with the community. It is rewarding to see the impact on the students as teachers grow professionally through the arts.”

As an entry point for the program, representatives from the two Colorado Springs teams will participate in the Partners in Education Institute April 23–26 at the Kennedy Center in Washington. During the four-day institute, team members will develop a customized plan for how the partners will work together in their community to create or further establish arts-based professional development programs for area teachers. Teams receive a detailed planning guide, attend performances and meet with national education leaders and guest artists while at the Kennedy Center.

A variety of interactive workshops, presentations and classroom modeling demonstrations also will be offered to exhibit innovative and imaginative approaches to educating students. Information learned at the institute has proven invaluable to past participants who have left the Kennedy Center with more confidence in their ability to create their own professional development programs for teachers.

“It is a testament to our community’s support for the arts and education that two teams in Colorado Springs — each consisting of an arts institution and school district — have been selected to participate in the Kennedy Center’s Partners in Education program,” says Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. “This program will help promote and expand arts-based educational programs in the area, providing professional development for teachers and helping students foster imagination and creativity. Teachers’ professional learning is an essential component of any effort designed to increase the creativity and artistic literacy of young people.”

The two new teams from Colorado Springs join the nearly 100 teams from 39 states and the District of Columbia already participating in the Partners in Education program, now in its 27th year. In addition, partnership teams receive national support from the Kennedy Center through access to Center resources including its roster of teaching artists to work directly with the school and students; follow-up consultation and ongoing communication to assist teams in program and partnership development, as well as annual multi-day convenings and intensive seminars. For more information, visit www.kennedy-center.org/partners.

The University of Colorado Colorado Springs, located on Austin Bluffs Parkway in Colorado Springs, is one of the fastest-growing universities in Colorado. The university offers 45 bachelor’s, 23 master’s and five doctoral degree programs. UCCS enrolls about 12,000 students on campus annually and another 3,300 in online programs. For more information, visit www.uccs.edu.

UCCS Presents supports arts, culture, and community for UCCS and the Pikes Peak region. Its professional arts programs are the Artist Series, UCCS Galleries of Contemporary Art, and Theatreworks. The University Center and Events Services provide support for these programs, as well as events across campus, while cultivating a welcoming environment for students to engage in diverse activities. For more information, visit uccspresents.org.

Academy District 20, founded in 1957, is the second largest school district in the Pikes Peak Region. With more than 35 schools, the district serves approximately 25,000 students. Considered the “The Peak of Excellence,” Academy District 20 has been accredited with distinction by the Colorado Department of Education for eight straight years. In 2016 the district passed a $230 million bond measure providing improvements to all schools, while simultaneously building two new elementary schools, a middle school and the Center for Modern Learning.

Academy District 20 has a long and robust commitment to the arts. The district, in conjunction with Air Academy Federal Credit Union, has sponsored a district-wide arts show/competition for nearly 20 years. Similarly, the district has sponsored an annual Arts Choir Festival since 2008. Each of the district’s high schools have a musical theatre program, and all district schools have art programs plus music, string and band offerings. The district also partners with the New York Met Opera and the Opera Theatre of the Rockies.

The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College believes the arts are a critical part of any community. Building upon its history as a cultural pillar, the Fine Arts Center strives to inspire community vitality through performing arts, visual arts and arts education. In 2016, the FAC announced an historic alliance with Colorado College and on July 1, 2017, became the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. For more information, visit https://www.csfineartscenter.org.

District 11 believes that when schools and communities deliver high quality learning opportunities in, though, and about the arts for children, extraordinary results occur. It has a long history of collaborating with Imagination Celebration to provide professional development around the arts and arts integrated learning.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is the national champion for arts learning and creativity. Committed to increasing opportunities for all people to participate in, learn about, and understand the arts, the Center offers programs and events that strive to reflect the nation and its communities, and that are accessible and inclusive for all. From the Center’s stages to classrooms and communities across the country, to online resources accessible nearly anywhere, the Center serves the burgeoning artist, the curious explorer, the student (of any age), the teacher and teaching artist—any person interested in arts learning and utilizing the arts for positive change.

As an essential component of the living memorial to President Kennedy, the Center’s Education programs utilize the arts to embrace the ideals of service, justice, freedom, courage, and gratitude, and cultivate the Citizen Artists in all the people we serve. For more information, please visit kennedy-center.org/education/.

Partners in Education, part of the Rubenstein Arts Access Program, is generously funded by David M. Rubenstein. Additional support is provided by the National Committee for the Performing Arts and the U.S. Department of Education.