by Robin Wilks-Dunn
Community Engagement Manager

KCrobinIn July I went to Washington, DC, as part of the Advisory Committee for the Kennedy Center Partners in Education Program.  This is a meeting for the eight advisory committee members to meet with Kennedy Center Education staff and plan the Annual Meeting held each February in DC for 300 participants. 

The mission of Kennedy Center Partners in Education Program is to partner an arts organization with a school district to work together to establish or expand professional learning programs in the arts for teachers in their communities.

As committee members we walk away from the summer meeting invigorated with new ideas for our own organizations and valuable information to share about trends in arts education throughout the United States and the world. 

In the final year of a three year term on the Advisory Committee, I work with 10 teams in the Northwest region from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.  The Partners in Education Program has over 100 teams from 43 states.  The Utah partnership consists of UtahPresents, U of U Youth Theatre, and SLC School District and was one of only 14 teams selected in 2007.  It remains the only Utah partnership. 

Teachers learning to work with shadow puppets to teach core curriculum

A teacher workshop focused on teaching students to use shadow puppets to learn core curriculum

In Utah, I work with my partners to select teaching artists that will provide instruction to teachers throughout Utah to bring new ideas and approaches to the classroom.  The Kennedy Center model provides guidelines and best practices on professional development workshops that center on arts integration for classroom teachers and arts specialists.  There is nothing quite as energizing and inspirational as seeing 30 teachers gather for three hours after a long day of teaching to learn additional ways to reach and teach their students.  At the beginning, the room is usually quiet as teachers are tired from their long day, but within thirty minutes they are re-energized as they embrace whatever is being taught, imagining the impact it will have on their classes or even specific students.  The dedication and enthusiasm of the teachers is inspirational as they learn new strategies for their classroom.  

UtahPresents is proud to participate in Kennedy Center Partners in Education as part of our community engagement program.