On Sept. 28, Guilford County received the Professional Development for Arts Educators grant, worth $1.4 million. Designed by the U.S. Department of Education, the award is an incentive for teachers to integrate the liberal arts into their curriculum. From this, the expected outcome is that students will have a well-rounded education and develop critical skills that will prepare them well for future careers.
The grant money will be used over four years to fund the Guilford County Schools Arts Integration Academy (GCS-AIA). This program plans to connect Guilford County Schools, UNCG and the local arts community, providing students with the opportunity to learn about various subjects in the arts and to engage students with accomplished local artists.The program will include over 10,000 students and around 150 local artists and art organizations. Involving students with the arts industry is especially important in Guilford County, as it is associated with over 5,000 jobs and brought in $162.2 million last year.
According to Guilford County Schools, there are four primary goals GCS-AIA: “increase teachers’ knowledge of arts integration methodologies, expand opportunities for teachers to integrate arts in other courses, increase opportunities for students to benefit from arts integration and increase partner and community engagement in integrated arts-learning.” These objectives provide a solid outline for the program so that it will stay on track over the course of its four years.
Sharon L. Contreras, Superintendent of Guilford County Schools, is confident in the objectives and believes they will be accomplished. She also spoke on the award, highlighting its importance and its projected effect on Guilford County Schools.
“We are very pleased to have received this award from the U.S. Department of Education and thank the committee for their diligent work in reviewing and scoring proposals,” said Contreras. “This award further validates the level of world-class arts education provided to our students and further solidifies GCS Arts as a national leader.”
Guilford County was the only district in North Carolina to receive the award and was one of twenty in the nation.
Regarding UNCG, the College of Visual and Performing Arts will collect $525,000 over four years. This money will be used to create training programs for ninety GCS teachers across 18 schools who will be educated by professors on how to incorporate the arts into their subjects. Training will be done virtually and in-person in hopes that it will increase the program’s success. Professors will also construct arts-related work for students and then judge its effectiveness. The program has already begun, and training is set to begin this upcoming summer.
Dr. Peter Alexander, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, spoke on the relationship between UNCG and Guilford County Schools. “This project is a natural extension of our community-engaged work,” said Alexander. “As a public institution, it’s our job to serve the region. This is an opportunity to make our artistic and intellectual resources available to help improve graduation rates and overall student success.”