Local teachers spent Monday painting, singing, and acting during the second annual arts integration day at The Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience in Meridian.
The training, part of The Any Given Child initiative, focused on how drama, visual art, music, and dance can be used in the classroom. The program, coordinated through the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, helps communities develop plans for arts education.
Meridian is one of 23 cities in the United States participating in the initiative to integrate arts in pre-K through eighth grades.
Since it was implemented in 2016, the Meridian Public School District has seen a 33 percent decrease in teacher turnover and chronic student absenteeism improve from 18.3 percent to 15 percent.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 30 educators from Meridian, Lauderdale County and other districts attended Monday's workshops, according to Clair Huff, arts coordinator for the Meridian Public School District.
Participants wore masks and followed social distancing guidelines during the classes.
Gloria Price, a teacher at TJ. Harris Upper Elementary, hopes the skills learned will help her students, many of who are visual learners.
“The class I teach is like a special education class; we can learn a lot with the music and visual arts,” she said.
Fourth grade teacher Jessica Ethridge hopes to incorporate some drama elements in her English and language arts class.
“With reading, I can act out the stories or act a scene,” she said.
Huff hopes the workshops will be an annual event.