Using art to teach all subjects is a new technique at Johns Hill Magnet School.
In a professional development session, teachers created a tableau about East and West Germany during the Cold War. Prior to making the tableau, they were given a crash course on the Berlin Wall by arts integration expert Stuart Stotts of the Kennedy Center.
After all the consulting, rehearsing, and presentation of the tableaus, Stotts asked, “What is the advantage of doing this instead of a lecture and a worksheet or something else?”
“You’re still learning as you go,” said teacher Leslie Johnson. “It’s good for the kid who doesn’t learn immediately.”
Stotts came to the Decatur, Illinois school through a grant written by art teacher Kathy Balamos Ganley, music teacher Heather Pistorius, instructional coach Sharon Bird, and principal Rob Prange.
According to Ganley, Johns Hill has a strong focus in the fine arts. They have an arts curriculum, and they enhance subjects with art. But they want to integrate the arts into every subject across all grades.
“Our mission and vision for the school is to become more arts integrated and a multicultural environment,” Ganley said. “We have students representing 22 countries, and we have a history of arts in the building as a foundation, and now we’re elevating it to the next level.”