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UT Receives $660,000 Grant to Infuse Arts and Creativity Into Teaching

Published: July 09, 2009

The 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 future years.

The grant includes four components:

  1. The 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.
  2. ARTe, 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.
  3. Follow-up sessions will be coordinated with the cohort teachers to bolster the network of teachers using the arts to facilitate learning.
  4. 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 support.

“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.