January 11, 2007


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Best practices
Capitol Center and Concord schools join Kennedy Center education network
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., provides professional development for local teachers to expand art literacy. They took that model national in 1991, and the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord and the Concord school district have just received notice that they have been accepted as a partnership team in the Kennedy Center’s Partnership for Education program, the only such team in New Hampshire.

“This is an opportunity for their children’s teachers to learn some of the best practices in the field. The Kennedy Center is really the heartbeat of arts education in the U.S.,” Shawn Powers, of the Capitol Center CCA Education Department, said about what this means for Concord parents. “And this is where most of the best practices have emerged from — Kennedy Center development.”

Powers said this partnership will most apply to strengthening the arts literacy program, teaching about the arts through other subjects, in grades one through three. Teachers in Concord integrate arts education with reading and writing lessons, Powers said. The Capitol Center for the Arts and the Concord School District have had an ongoing partnership for more than 10 years, linking School Series performances to classroom curriculum.

Concord arts literacy teacher Stephanie LaRochelle and Powers will attend the Partnership in Education Institute in May at the Kennedy Center. It will offer training for building effective partnerships, including effective communication and planning between the arts organization and school district. The Institute will also offer an opportunity to discuss best practices with peers across the nation, and make contacts for future problem-solving needs.

While the Capitol Center is a presenting house, commercial theaters or theaters that produce their own work such as the Palace Theatre could be eligible, Powers said. There are 92 partnership teams in the U.S. in the Kennedy Center Partnership for Education.

Last summer, the Capitol Center took a group of teachers to the Lincoln Center Institute, which provided another set of tools for teachers to use within the arts literacy program.

The Capitol Center currently offers nine hours of professional development programs each school year that are used by teachers throughout the state. These programs provide educators with strategies on how to integrate the arts into the classroom.  With the Kennedy Center’s training, these programs will be more effective in addressing the needs of teachers in Concord and the region.

“Through this program at the Kennedy Center we’re going to be able to establish a plan for professional development for the Concord School district, develop a plan that will be sequential, really codify [the] program that already exists ... it strengthens and institutionalizes what those programs are,” Powers said.

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