The first week of June 2011 found the Museum full of fourth-grade teachers, local artists, and four master artists from the Kennedy Center for the Straight A’s Program Summer Institute. The purpose of this workshop, organized by the Birmingham Cultural Alliance and hosted by the Museum, was to ignite and jump start the creative energy around Straight A’s, the city’s newest educational initiative.
Straight A’s aims to fully integrate the arts, including visual arts, dance, theater, and music, into the classrooms and teaching practice of fourth-grade teachers in nine Birmingham City Schools. The program will explore the impact of arts-integration academic partnerships between classroom teachers and teaching artists on fourth grade literacy and mathematics skills over a three-year period. The program will also support these classroom-teaching partnerships through professional development and intensive school-based curriculum mapping. The Museum was delighted to be the host site for this innovative workshop, so that teachers could experience first hand the power of the visual arts. We will continue to partner with these schools in the coming academic year.
The Birmingham City Schools and the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham are partners in the program that was awarded $1.16 million from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement. The University of Alabama at Birmingham Center for Educational Accountability will provide independent evaluation of the initiative.