W.Va. Team Selected For National Arts Education Institute

March 23, 2009

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The National Endowment for the Arts this week announced that West Virginia is one of four states participating in an intensive three-day institute designed to help state policymakers, educators and advocates design arts education plans for their states.  The institute is in Chicago.


The West Virginia team includes team leader Lourdes Karas, executive director of the Appalachian Education Initiative; James V. Denova, vice president of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation; Julia Murin Lee, arts coordinator for the West Virginia Department of Education; Susan S. Landis, chairwoman of the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and executive director of the Beckley Area Foundation; Jeffrey Miller, president and chief executive officer of Hunter /Miller + Associates and a member of the Create WV steering committee; and Maya Nye, arts-in-education coordinator for the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.


“As West Virginia moves forward with its innovative 21st Century Learning program, it is imperative that arts education is valued and included in our state’s education plans,” Karas said.  “Participating in this institute gives us the opportunity to develop creative and forward-thinking policy recommendations as we learn from national education leaders.”


Karas said it is exciting to have a team that represents education, arts, business and community leaders.


“Our application was a joint project of the Appalachian Education Initiate, the West Virginia Department of Education and the West Virginia Division of Culture and History,” she said.  “It’s a good demonstration of how our state’s leaders recognize the importance of arts education for public school curricula.”


West Virginia Superintendent Steve Paine said arts programs encourage students to think creatively and adopt fresh approaches.


“Classes such as music, visual art, theater and dance challenge students’ perceptions and help them develop ways of thinking that are visual as well as verbal,” Paine said.  “They foster creative thinking and help bridge language and other barriers among diverse cultures in a 21st century global society.”


The National Endowment for the Arts began the Education Leaders Institute in 2007.  So far, 10 state teams have participated in the program. This spring’s institute includes teams from Arizona, Hawaii and Washington, D.C., along with the West Virginia team.


The Education Leaders Institute gives state teams the time to discuss shared arts education challenges and create strategies to strengthen their state’s arts education polices and practices.  The West Virginia team, like others in the program, is discussing arts education, new media opportunities, curriculum reform and accountability.


“As educators, we must strive to maintain an education curriculum balance that values the creativity and personal development skills the arts bring to learning as highly as we value math and science,” Karas said.


For more information, contact Karas at 304-225-0101 or lkaras@aeiarts.org, or the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Communications at 304-558-2699.

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