Published: July 09, 2009
University of Tampa has received a $660,000 grant from the Florida
Department of Education to create a network of energized, creative,
highly-skilled teachers in high-need schools – and thereby spark arts
and creativity into the curriculum.
The program, dubbed “Untie the Right Brains,” is “about using creativity
as a means to engaging students in learning,” said Anne Gormly, dean of
the College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education at The
University of Tampa. “The arts are a learning catalyst, and this grant
will help us deliver that catalyst effectively, enlightening teachers,
engaging students and energizing the performance of both.”
Partnering with Eckerd College, Ringling College of Art and Design, St.
Leo University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Southeastern
University, The University of Tampa will oversee the transformation of
175 teachers from high-need school districts around Florida into
ArtsMasters who will energize their students and other teachers for
The grant includes four components:
selected teachers will attend “Find Arts” sessions and summer workshops
as part of a professional development track that culminates in a
master’s degree in education.
an online-social network for all statewide arts teachers, will be
built, and will include resources, modules, faculty coaching,
interactive teacher support and a lesson plan library.
- Follow-up sessions will be coordinated with the cohort teachers to
bolster the network of teachers using the arts to facilitate learning.
- For those teachers that commit to becoming an arts coach in their
schools, the partner institutions will help support them academically
and financially to obtain a master’s degree in education that is infused
with the arts.
A 2005 Harris Poll found that 93 percent of Americans agree that the
arts are vital to providing a well-rounded education of children.
According to Gormly this grant provides a strategy to help the state of
Florida integrate arts into the curriculum and bolster learning.
Martha Harrison, graduate coordinator for the education master’s program
and associate professor of education, said that infusing arts into
existing classroom curriculum by adept content area teachers can
stimulate the right side of the brain in a way no other coursework can.
“The challenge for all educators, not just arts teachers, is to capture
the energy of artistic creation and the fascination with digital
technologies and channel them into learning in a variety of academic
disciplines,” Harrison said.
The Florida Learning Alliance, the Florida Independent College Fund and
the Independent Colleges and University of Florida (ICUF) have also
partnered in the project and will support and promote the program and
the social network.
“Untie the Right Brain” is a demonstration program, but, according to
Gormly, is designed to be expanded statewide, enlisting more higher
education institutions, teachers, schools, districts and community
“This model could be applied to every teacher development field by
higher education institutions or by school districts that seek a
master’s-degreed workforce,” Gormly said.