Rie Poirier-Campbell, Executive Director
With the school year at an end, I’ve been thinking about some of the truly exciting, student-centered work that’s been happening this year through Hartford Performs’ partnership with the Hartford Public Schools.
Hartford Performs has been working closely with the district for the last six years to systematically provide arts experiences to students throughout the city. We bring teaching artists into classrooms to help students learn all manner of curriculum through the arts ̶ because when kids learn to dance like molecules, drum mathematical progressions, or act out a scene from history, they learn those lessons more deeply and personally.
Just as important, we bring Hartford students out to cultural venues across the region so that they feel connected to ̶ and welcome in ̶ Greater Hartford’s museums, concert halls and studios.
This school year alone, we provided exciting, engaging, educational arts experiences to 13,600 Hartford Public School students – every single student in each of 32 PreK-Grade 8 schools, neighborhood and magnet alike. More than 100 professional teaching artists delivered 800 student programs this year. Every student in each of those 32 schools received at least two Hartford Performs programs this year. Many received three, four or even five programs.
I should note that every program we provide is aligned with Common Core State Standards and specifically selected by teachers to complement what his or her students are studying. And those programs are powerful.
I saw one student suddenly grasp what one-eighth meant when he had to color a grid one-quarter purple and one-eighth yellow in a drawing.
I’ve read notes from second graders who were surprised to discover that lighting and costumes can influence how they feel about characters on a stage.
And I heard one very proud parent say that when his sixth-grade daughter saw a performance about the Amistad at the Old State House, it both gave her a new respect for her city, and sparked in her an intense passion for civil rights.
The work that our students are doing with Hartford Performs is so exciting that it even got the attention of The New York Times this year. The Sunday, January 10, edition of the Times featured a story called “Granting Artistic License to Learn.” In it, Hartford Public Schools were seen as an innovative example of how learning can be joyful when the arts are integrated into classroom work.
Hartford Performs is pleased to provide some of that innovation through our partnership with Hartford Public Schools. We look forward to serving even more students next year, and can’t wait to see what exciting developments the 2016/2017 school year has in store for us!