Home News Local News RISD’s focus on the arts inspires creative learning

RISD’s focus on the arts inspires creative learning

Alison Penn Photo Interim Superintendent Susan Sanchez and Ruben Sanchez, vice president of the RISD school board, smiled as Secretary Alan Gedde shared a list of teachers who inspired him when he was a student. They also held a moment of silence in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day on Tuesday. After Abie Smith's presentation, Gedde said that his own children share with him their love for their RISD art teachers. Gedde thanked Smith and the other teachers present at the meeting for their service.

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At a school board meeting Tuesday night, Roswell Independent School District officials approved a measure clearing the way for the Arts Connect program to renew its application for state arts funding.

The motion for approval was made by Secretary Alan Gedde and seconded by board member James Edwards. It passed unanimously.

Abie Smith, Arts Connect Principal at RISD’s Creative Learning Center, shared the intention to apply for the Fine Arts Education Act (FAEA) funding for the upcoming school year.

According to the request documentation, FAEA helps fund school districts provide education in performing and visual arts to enhance elementary students’ cognitive development, through engaging students while teaching critical thinking.

In the application, the district must have three measurable goals that correspond to learning art, and a supporting budget. Chad Cole, assistant superintendent of finance and operations, commended Smith’s detailed budget for the Arts Connect program.

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If RISD’s application is successful, the district will be notified in August of funding approval for the school’s fiscal year.

Smith shared the program’s accomplished goals from this year in providing arts education for 700 students from kindergarten through sixth grade. Her presentation included photos of the classrooms and her staff wheeling art carts around the schools.

“It’s very challenging in seven slides to put together a whole year’s worth of what my staff has done,” Smith said. “They are absolutely amazing and they packed every day.”

Smith said some of the goals achieved were implementing a kindergarten team for foundational arts education in visual and performing arts, connecting the core curriculum to the art classes, and enhancing creative experiences through community events.

“So the cool thing about our program that is so different from every other school district in New Mexico is that every single student in the grade level receives the same lesson and gets to experience and create with the same materials,” she said. “That is important because then we all are learning … and moving forward — building again those stepping stones as we go.”

Smith said the district program strives to provide “high quality, high intrigue materials” for the students to work with for every project. Communicating with parents and guardians was another accomplishment by means of a monthly newsletter available on the RISD web page.

Communication happens among the staff. Each teacher receives an interdisciplinary peer review and opportunities for professional development. Smith said the whole arts team has decided to learn ukulele, which with be taught to sixth graders to encourage the students to remain involved in arts throughout middle and high school.

On April 28, RISD’s Celebrate the Arts Day was held at the Roswell Mall, memorialized with a ‘Weave-a-topia’ installation, performances, and more.

“Celebrate the Arts was amazing,” Susan Sanchez said. “You all did an amazing job. I loved the time I had out there so again, thank you. It was a big project in a small space.”

The Arts Connect Program will have a gallery opening night reception at Eastern New Mexico Medical Center, 405 W. Country Club Road, on Tuesday from 5:30-6:30 p.m. The event will showcase RISD student art.

Smith said artist Miranda Howe is working on a project for the entrance with students at Berrendo Elementary School. Smith said Mark Kistler held two assemblies at every elementary school this past year.

For next year, Smith said the core art standards adopted by the Public Education Department in January will be implemented, and the program will add an arts integration specialist to the team.

“We want students to be in awe of what they see coming through the door,” Smith said. I know a lot of teachers will say they get applause when they come in the door — which is pretty fantastic as a teacher. We have to keep them inspired and wanting to learn and being excited about that next lesson moving forward.”

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.


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