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Showcasing the Arts

Posted: February 13, 2020

Showcasing the Elevated Arts Schools - Lew Wallace Elementary School

Lew Wallace Elementary School extends its beliefs that classroom art strategies enrich the lives of their students by participating as an Elevated Arts School.

Lew Wallace Elementary School was selected as an Elevated Arts School for the 2019-2020 school year. The opportunities afforded Elevated Arts Schools are a great supplement to the journey already begun by the staff, children and community at Lew Wallace.

Lew Wallace began its journey when Anne Marie Strangio joined the school as principal seven years ago.  Exploring how the arts impact student learning resulted in a change in school culture and a move toward the intrinsic love of the arts.  The staff explored the experiential side of the arts and the concept that art is loved for art’s sake.  They wanted to enjoy art and experience internal satisfaction as they participated in arts activities.  Students performed as an authentic outcome of the art’s experience, but the focus was on the experience.  This approach increased everyone’s willingness to take risks and participate in art areas they were not comfortable with.  For example, the younger children often sang and danced, but the older students were not as comfortable with singing and dancing.  The willingness to experience music, dance and drama has increased as the willingness to take risks has increased.  This inclusivity aligned with the schools underlying design to build relationships as a primary school goal.  Strong relationships supported risk taking.

The staff utilized concepts learned at the August training with MIND POP.  School curricula and arts concepts were integral to daily learning. This is evident in their use of Benchmark themes from the school language arts program.  Students are currently working on points-of-view and pairing that with The Nutcracker Ballet in the Land of Enchantment, an upcoming performance at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.  Here the central question is “Why do we tell stories?”   Using real world experiences supports student learning.

The school hosts and participates in the Festival de Bellas Artes, a multicultural festival in its 11th year this February.  This festival celebrates a variety of art forms from many cultures in New Mexico.  Originally five schools and approximately 70 students participated.  Last year, 1,500 students from 28 school groups participated.  Students perform and take part in workshops highlighting many art forms for four days and three nights. 

Two programs from Lew Wallace are especially relevant.  Both the Mariachi teacher and the Folklorio Dance teacher are former APS students who live in the community, attended Washington Middle School and Albuquerque High School and currently give back to their community. These role models exemplify the creation of authentic learning using real world artists from the cultures representing the children in the school.