The Art and Science Academy school program has been developed over a three year period, on research- backed foundational teaching and learning practices and with the intent of offering a curriculum that is more experiential and personally appealing to students. We believe that student motivation and desire to learn is not just a relevant topic of consideration for school leaders but a critical one. How many of us would be successful spending time in an environment with little personal appeal and with minimal opportunities to learn and work on topics and projects of high personal interest? Sadly, as many students progress through grade school the level of interest and joy of learning begins to deteriorate significantly. Many students enter the high school years dangerously disengaged in academics and often despise going to school. Many studies and reports on student drop out rates verify this claim. For example, a Civic Enterprise report titled “Silent Epidemic” points out that each year, almost one third of all public high school students fail to graduate from public high school with their class. The report describes the primary reason that nearly half of the young adults give for dropping out of school is that classes are “uninteresting” and that students reported being bored and disengaged in school.
Why do we teach and integrate the arts? Research strongly supports the notion that arts education and integration can help struggling learners better learn the topics being assessed. For example, (Fiske, 2002) found that the arts provide students with authentic learning experiences that are real and meaningful to them. Others have discovered that when the arts are integrated into academic instruction, the learning experiences can become enhanced with discovery, improving the conditions for learning. Over the past two decades, ample research has been conducted establishing direct correlations between sustained involvement in arts programs and the development of cognitive and meta-cognitive capacities or “habits of mind,” associated with high student achievement and college readiness. These capacities include focused perception, analysis, elaboration, problem solving, motivation, active engagement and critical thinking skills.
We do not believe that simply increasing art activities alone is a silver bullet in achieving academic success. The Art and Science Academy school program also incorporates practices of schools that have been labeled “highly successful.”
For example, we offer:
• Smaller class sizes
• Research supported curriculum
• Small group instruction daily
• Uniform policy to enhance a strong school culture.
• A team teaching approach
• A year-round school calendar, which allows for higher levels of professional development and collaboration time among teaching teams.
• High levels of professional development time;
• Instructional assistants that are highly trained;
• Staff which possesses (and demonstrate) attributes of flexibility, optimism, the ability to problem solve and adaptability.
Developing a school from the ground up is not an easy task! Parents and staff will need to work together as a team to create a strong and lasting school culture of innovation, creativity and success.