Members of the community gathered in Meridian on Tuesday to learn more about a program that integrates the arts into education.
The East Mississipp Business Development Corporation held a business before hours event at the Mississippi State University Riley Center that focused on the Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child program, which helps communities develop plans for arts education in schools. The program is coordinated through the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Meridian is one of 23 cities in the United States that was awarded the initiative to integrate arts in pre-K through 8 grades. Meridian is in year two of the program.
Jeanette McCune, director of School and Community Programs at the Kennedy Center, said that in the beginning, the program was supposed to last for four years, but has lasted for 10 years due to support from its communities.
Amy Carter, superintendent for the Meridian Public School District, said one goal this year is to get lesson plans for teachers to integrate with their teaching. Since the program came to Meridian, Carter said she's already seen a change in the district. Carter said she's also seen a good response from the community, including parents.
“We are excited about the academic outcomes,” Carter said.
Claire Huff, the district's arts coordinator, said that last year, the focus was on laying the foundation for arts integration in grades pre-K through 8. This year, they will focus on integrating art into subjects such as language arts and math.
Huff added that the district plans to bring in a teaching artist to integrate drama into classroom settings. She said art gives kids a chance to learn and connect on an emotional level.
“It makes a huge impression them,” Huff said.