Arts Education Program Helps Students Make Valuable Connections

by aec

The 12th Annual AEC Culture Fest will be Sunday, October 2, at the First Tennessee Pavilion. This FREE family festival draws over 10,000 people to celebrate Chattanooga's rich cultural diversity through the arts.

A major component of Culture Fest is the education outreach program, which sends multicultural performing artists into local schools for performances and workshops.

This year, AEC is pleased to expand the education outreach program to full-week residencies in FOUR Hamilton County schools with Aztec performing artist John Jaramillo. The program kicked off today at East Ridge Elementary with John's Aztec Dances of Mexico presentation. For the rest of the week, 5th graders will be immersed in Aztec culture as they create drums, learn dance steps and perform for their peers and teachers.

"Learning through the arts is active, hands on learning, and studies show that children who experience the arts in connection with learning, learn more, tend to stay in school, have better social skills and do better in core subjects," Mr. Jaramillo says.

"If there is a message in arts in education it is that learning through the arts is active and and allows a child to make connections to curriculum subjects like history, math, science and social studies through the arts. It's a valuable connection."

The 2011 residency program is made possible by grants from SouthArts and the Tennessee Arts Commission, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, and housing provided by McCallie School.

Learn more about AEC Culture Fest.

Write On!

by aec

Young Southern Writers Awards.jpg"It is important that you recognize your progress and take pride in your accomplishments. Share your achievements with others. Brag a little. The recognition and support of those around you is nurturing." -Rosemarie Rossetti

On April 12, AEC will honor 472 students for their achievements in creative writing. With the support of families and teachers in the audience, students will walk onto the Tivoli Theatre stage to receive a medal and be recognized for their works in poetry and prose.

The festivities are all part of the AEC's annual Young Southern Student Writers program, a writing initiative for grades K-12. Each December, students are invited to submit their original works of prose and poetry to be judged by members of the UT-Chattanooga English Department. Winners are selected based on creativity, content and style.

The program has grown exponentially since it started in 1999 as an outreach program of the AEC Conference on Southern Literature. Over 5,000 students from more than 70 area schools entered the 2011 competition, up from 500 entries the first year. The increased participation over the years led AEC to hold the program annually (instead of biennially during each literary conference) and break the awards ceremony up into two separate events for elementary winners and middle and high school winners.

"It is the commitment of Chattanooga area teachers that has made the Young Southern Student Writers program so successful," says Dr. Verbie Prevost, who serves as chairperson of the program and Head of the UT-Chattanooga English Department. "These teachers want to find ways to encourage their students to write, and they want their good writers to receive recognition."

The program also allows students to find their writing "niche" and make connections between their own writing processes and that of a real author. Like published authors, students must first select the most appropriate work for the competition. Then, with help from their language arts teachers, they go through the revision process, editing several drafts before submitting the final piece. AEC even designed the medals to resemble the official medals worn by the prestigious Fellowship of Southern Writers.

"Being recognized and rewarded for their hard work allows students to see themselves as a real author," says Dr. Prevost. "It is our hope that this encouragement inspires the students to pursue becoming even better writers."