Grant Brings Children's Author to Local Elementary
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Award-winning children’s author Sara Pennypacker of the “Clementine” series will be visiting with fourth grade students at Maryland Elementary School in Vista on Friday, Dec. 9 as part of a unique grant awarded to Center ARTES at CSUSM that aims to enhance English and reading skills through theater.
The pilot program called TELL – Theater for English Language Learning – focuses on teaching reading skills through a blend of theatrical performances and reading exercises using Pennypacker’s book series “Clementine” which chronicles the adventures of a precocious third-grader.
Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to offer a one-year curriculum, Center ARTES began working with the fourth-grade classes at the start of the school year. In April, the students will adapt, write and act in a short play based on the books.
“We are always looking for opportunities to increase good instructional techniques for listening, speaking, reading, and writing,” said Karen Burke, principal of Maryland Elementary. More than 70 percent of the students that attend the Vista-based school are English language learners. “Theater is the perfect way to build that with a purpose in mind so that it’s meaningful for our students.”
“The children at Maryland Elementary have enormous potential,” said Dr. Merryl Goldberg, executive director of Center ARTES at CSUSM. “They have shown it and their teachers know it, despite the barriers of homelessness, low income and concurrent learning of English alongside of content matter. TELL provides the children with a unique opportunity that engages them in learning English, reading, communication skills, and public speaking skills through theater.”
The philosophy behind the programs offered by Center ARTES, which was founded in 2003, is to teach with and through the arts, rather than focusing exclusively on teaching about the arts. Goldberg explained that art can be a powerful tool for teachers to utilize in the classroom to help students both further their subject-matter understanding and be introduced to the arts as well. For example, music and rhythm can help teach difficult math concepts, dance can teach anatomy and physiology, drama can teach history or politics, or writing poetry can boost confidence and competence in self-expression.
Each year through various outreach programs like TELL and the ARTSmobile, Center ARTES is able to enrich public education for more than 5,000 students in the region at no cost to the schools.
“The arts can, and do, make a difference in a child’s schooling by effectively engaging the student in the learning process and motivating the child to perform well,” explained Goldberg. “In bringing programs such as TELL to our schools, we bring much more than a specific program; we bring opportunities for children to learn, shine and set a path of excellence for their future learning.”
What: Award-winning children’s author Sara Pennypacker of the “Clementine” series will visit fourth grade students at Maryland Elementary School in Vista as part of a unique grant that aims to enhance English and reading skills through theater.
When: Friday, Dec. 9, 2011 – 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Where: Maryland Elementary School – 700 North Avenue, Vista
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