What We've Done
In the fall of 1998, a group of interested teachers, school administrators, and community members came together to apply for a grant from WSAC that offered funding for arts in the public schools. Visual arts, music, and drama were offered as electives only in grades 7-12. Limited levy funding supported one-shot arts activities in the elementary grades on a monthly basis. There was not a climate of collaboration between the arts specialists and classroom teachers, and arts lessons were not integrated into the curriculum.
The Consortium fostered a different kind of collaboration than had ever happened before.
The arts are now a vibrant, visible presence in each building, particularly in the middle and elementary schools, where almost no arts programming took place in years past. Community partnerships have created exceptional programs, from Tales, Texts & Theater, a unique, weeklong immersion program for the entire seventh grade, to Artwave, a highly visible showcase of children’s artwork supported by close to fifty businesses. PT Artscape has fostered excellence in arts education by acting as a bridge between the different worlds of Port Townsend.
Over time, our programs have reinforced the expectation that the arts will be a key part of district curriculum. Principals and classroom teachers have seen the benefits of sustained, sequential arts programming. Thanks to increased opportunities in early elementary school, students are better prepared for arts instruction at later grades. Eleven years of collaboration between teaching artists and classroom teachers has generated new curriculum, informed by the EALRs, that integrate the arts at each grade level. Principals have become the district’s strongest advocates for arts integration.
The Consortium has transformed the Port Townsend school district and school culture over eleven years, by bringing educators and artists together. Port Townsend schools now reflect the value that the community places on the arts, which are considered to be essential to life and learning in our community.