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Teaching Artist's Academy comes to Homer

Posted: September 8, 2011 - 2:55pm

The first Homer Teaching Artist’s Academy will be offered at Homer Council on the Arts Sept. 16-18. It is a collaboration between HCOA, Bunnell Street Arts Center and the Alaska State Council on the Arts, and kicks off with a keynote address by 2011 Alaska Teacher of the Year Lorrie Heagy at HCOA, 7 p.m. Sept. 16.

Heagy’s address is free and open to the public. There is a $40 fee for the academy. No preregistration is required.

“We wanted to make sure there were no excuses not to come,” said Gail Edgerly, HCOA executive director.

Heagy is a music teacher and librarian at Glacier Valley Elementary School in Juneau.

Since Heagy began teaching at Glacier Valley, the school’s library, music and art programs have experienced phenomenal growth,” Laury Scandling, Juneau School District assistant superintendent, wrote in a letter recommending Heagy for teacher of the year.

Heagy’s presentation will focus on the connection between brain research, the arts and learning.

Urging the public to attend Heagy’s presentation, Diane Borgman, president and chair of HCOA’s board of directors and a member of the state arts council said, “She is very much an authority on that area. She’s very warm, dynamic, an engaging speaker. I’ve known her for awhile and she’s wonderful.”

This is the first time a teaching artist’s academy, a requirement of the artist-in-the-schools program, has been offered in Homer.

“The goal of the academy is to involve more Homer artists in the program,” said Borgman.

A report generated by the state arts council on the status of education for students “revealed several things that imperil the quality of education for our students,” said Asia Freeman, executive and artistic director of Bunnell Street Arts Center. Among those factors are the lack of highly qualified art teachers and no graduation requirement in art statewide.

As a result, the state arts council decided to initiate steps to improve the quality of art instruction through the teaching academies.

“The idea is that more artists can become qualified to teach for AIS, new artists will be trained and for those who have been teaching, the quality will improve through more awareness of curriculum, in terms of what teachers are expected to teach and state standards, improving classroom management, designing and writing lesson plans and encouraging more dialogue and community connection between local artists and educators,” said Freeman.

Recognizing “gifted artist teachers in the community” who have participated in the AIS program in the past, Freeman said their involvement in the academy would add to the experience.

“We’d really like to encourage people to come,” said Borgman. “It’s going to be wonderful.”

For more information on the Homer Teaching Artist’s Academy, visit www.homerart.org/calendar/events/homer-teaching-artists-academy/.

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