Sarah Tambucci smilingNew shoes. New Year. New Opportunities.

It really doesn’t matter what it is, the word new conjures up anticipation of promise and hope. We’ve all made that hasty shoe purchase; they were inexpensive, or fashionable, or maybe you just really WANTED a new pair of shoes. More often than not, that hasty purchase resulted in disappointment, and blisters!

At AEC we don’t believe that new is always better. We are always open to investigating new opportunities through the lens of supporting quality arts education in Western Pennsylvania. We recognize that just because something is new does not mean it is going to be successful or of high quality.

When creating new programs, AEC proceeds with thoughtful deliberation and purposeful design. Our methodology is straightforward.  Listen to constituents’ needs and interests, research effective practices, identify regional collaborators and partners, design strategies that respond to the environment, and evaluate the results. We would like to highlight some of the new and emerging work that we will be focused on implementing in 2017.

Young people who remain active tend to become adults who remain active.  Dance and creative movement are included in the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for the Arts and Humanities.  However, there is no dance certification in Pennsylvania, physical education teachers are certified but do not always feel that dance/creative moment are their strengths. There are districts throughout the region who want to provide options for students to keep moving.  AEC is currently collaborating with Attack Theater to provide technical assistance and support to health and physical education teachers in three districts to develop K-12 curriculum that blends the areas of health, physical education, and movement into a comprehensive approach to wellness.  – A new way to think about traditional physical education programming!

Collaboration is crucial as we invent programmatic responses to an ever-changing environment.  The increasing availability of fabrication technologies in schools has offered yet another opportunity.  Got Tech?  Now What? is an AEC collaboration with Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild focused on the creative use of fabrication technologies.  This pilot includes the purchase, maintenance, and use of software and 3D printers as creative tools in identifying and solving real-world fabrication problems.  – New equipment, new thinking, new skills!

Finally, let’s consider yet another example of how the environment influences AEC programmatic decisions.  School leaders are critical in responding to the increasing demand to prepare students to participate as members of a creative, innovative workforce. School leadership teams have an expressed the need to understand the career opportunities and the skills required to succeed. City as Classroom is a one-day program AEC tailors to meet the articulated priorities of individual districts.  Leadership teams visit a variety of organizations where the focus is on organizational structures that foster cultures of creativity, imagination, and innovation.  An added benefit of this program is the opportunity for districts to form partnerships that allow students and faculty to engage in real-world experiences demonstrating practical application of learning. This summer, AEC will work with six districts in the design and delivery of these experiences.  – New insights into preparing students for the world of work!

This is a just a sampling of new and emerging ways that AEC is responding to a changing environment while capitalizing on the rich resources of the region.  New opportunities, new possibilities…

Happy NEW year!