The Mississippi Arts Commission’s 15th Annual Whole Schools Initiative Summer Institute will be held at the MSU Riley Center in Meridian from July 15-18.

    The initiative will offer educators new and innovative ideas for classroom arts integration and will focus on “Getting to the Core of a 21st Century Education,” according to a Mississippi Arts Commission press release.    

    Approximately 300 teachers, parents, artists, administrators and pre-service educators from more than 40 schools will gather in Meridian to learn about arts integration, a teaching strategy that allows students to create a deeper understanding of a subject while they are learning about an art form.

    "The Institute’s highly professional training will give educators of all backgrounds the inspiration, knowledge and art skills to lead their students toward the goal of reaching full academic potential," the press release states.

    “The Mississippi Arts Commission is proud to provide educators this outstanding professional development opportunity,” said Sallye Killebrew, Interim Executive Director of MAC.  “We are committed to showing the value of teaching the arts across the curriculum and what a difference it can make for the future of Mississippi’s children.”

    The Institute will begin on Monday, July 15th with arts integration presentations by Kennedy Center teaching artists, Sean Layne and Melanie Layne.  During lunch, Dr. Judith Phillips of the John C. Stennis Institute, will reveal the findings of recent research showing the positive results from schools involved in the Whole Schools Initiative.

    Parents will join in the fun on Tuesday, July 16th, for a day of introduction to the arts and arts integration. They will be given instruction on the role the arts play in continuing student learning outside the classroom.

    Parents from all over the state will join teachers, administrators and artists to engage in arts experiences, create arts integrated lesson plans, and network with artists from their community.

    "The Institute provides a unique opportunity to learn how to teach critical thinking and problem solving through visual art, dance/movement, music and theatre/drama," according to the press release.

    Other special guest presenters include Kennedy Center Teaching Artists, Marcia Daft, Lenore Kelner, Sherry and Bobby Norfolk, Julie White and other state and national presenters.

    This summer, teachers of students with disabilities who work in self-contained classrooms will receive professional training in a newly created track that will provide a hands-on opportunity to engage in arts experiences while exploring principles of Universal Design for Learning.

    Mississippi teaching artist Tom Harmon and self-contained SPED teacher Tonya Brackett from St. Richard Catholic School will model strategies that connect to Individual Education Program goals, while providing tools to effectively integrate the arts for all students to experience. This program is provided through a partnership with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

    Early childhood care providers who work with 3 and 4 year olds will be treated to a two-day experience that connects early childhood curriculum with the arts. A panel of early childhood education experts will begin the day by discussing the importance of a complete education through the arts, followed by a two-day intensive track that focuses on theatre and literature in the classroom. This experience is funded by the Mississippi Department of Education.

    Featured speakers for this year’s Institute are the stars of “Music from the Heart” featuring Kim Carnes, John Ford Coley, Gene Cotton, Lenny LeBlanc, with special guest Greg Barnhill.

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