FCPS, associative partner to sprinkle other lessons in art | Education

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This summer, two hundred Frederick County public school students are learning from local artists as part of a recently expanded partnership between the district and a nonprofit organization based in the New Market.

FCPS’ Fun Academics in the Summertime (FAST) program is funded by federal grants. For more than a decade, it has offered day programs in elementary schools with a high percentage of low-income families.

This summer it is serving 50 children from Butterfly Ridge, Hillcrest, Lincoln and Waverley elementary schools.

This year’s FAST students spend two hours a week with instructors from the Enhance Arts Project, which formed in 2019 and offers “arts integration” classes to schools and community groups.

Arts integration aims to blend math, language and other foundational skills into arts-centric lessons, said Adrienne King, executive director of Enhancer.

The non-profit brings professional artists or educators into FCPS summer programs, assisted by high school dancers, visual artists, writers and performers.

On Monday morning, students at Butterfly Ridge Elementary School chanted the word “down” over and over, starting in a high pitch and sliding their voices lower each time. They held their hands in front of them and moved them down with the beat.

Many FAST students learn English, said program director Justine Freimanis. The combination of music, repetition and movement helps language skills without students realizing it, she said.

“Kids have no idea all the stuff they just got,” King said. “But when they go out, they might one day be like, ‘Oh, down! I know what that means.'”

FCPS and Enhance have partnered for summer programming in the past, King said, but on a much smaller scale. Teachers would contact the nonprofit and request lessons or one-day assemblies from a “menu” of lesson plans.

Now, Enhance rotates between the four FAST schools, spending two days a week at each for the entire five weeks of the program. The two total hours per week of arts integration is far more than what students typically get during the school year, Freimanis said.

Staff members are keeping art classes at a ratio of one teacher or assistant for every 10 students, to facilitate relationship building, Freimanis said.

Teachers who partner with Enhance often learn things they can take back to their own classrooms during the school year, King added.

“There are access points to the arts and through the arts to other things,” King said, “regardless of your own background, or your language, or whatever it is where you come from.”

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