Arts integration course benefits elementary ed majors

Kristin Camiliere| Staff Reporter

The Wallace Elementary School for Integrated Arts employs mostly Butler University graduates. This high employment rate relates to the elementary education courses offered at Butler and the strong ties that Butler has with the Wallace School.

Butler is connected with the Wallace Elementary School of Integrated Arts, located in Kokomo, Indiana.

“We send student teachers there,”Arthur Hochman, professor of elementary and middle-childhood education, said. “And as a part of the course, there is a practicum portion where we send our students to the school, so they can see it.”

Hochman  helped start the Wallace School.

“The superintendent came to me from Kokomo because they wanted to start an integrated arts school, and they want to hire Butler graduates,” Hochman said.

When students visit there for the practicum part of the course, they meet faculty and staff. When they go back to do their student teaching, they build even stronger connections, which results in many Butler graduates getting hired.

“There are about four teachers who are not Butler grads,” Hochman said.

The Wallace School currently employs 15 teachers overall.

Butler and the Wallace School still continue to maintain a great connection.

“We have this profound connection and we continue to do in-services and we continue to work with them and send our students there,” Hochman said. “This is a world class school and I haven’t seen another school of it’s quality anywhere in the country.”

Its founding principle of arts integration differentiates this school from most other elementary programs.

“Once I stepped foot in the building, I knew it was a unique learning environment,”senior elementary education major Josie Wallfred said. “Wallace Elementary School is a school that is unlike any other that I have been to. The students here learn violin, keyboard, dancing and also their core subjects like math, reading, writing, social studies and science through art integration.”

The arts integration course at Butler strives to teach students how to incorporate the arts into the core curriculum.

“The purpose of this class is to help teachers see how they can blend the standard content of the elementary school curriculum with all of the arts,” Hochman said.

For example, there is a course that teaches students how they can instruct about movement while also teaching math. This course focuses on blending the two in a way that makes kids who don’t necessarily think of themselves as dancers feel more comfortable.

“I know that it can be a difficult concept to understand because it is not very common, but it is absolutely amazing to see it happen,” Wallfred said. “For instance, the first grade class I am student teaching in is learning about the main idea of books, through learning about the main idea of paintings.”

This course does not try to replace music and art teachers. Instead, it focuses on giving kids exposure to the arts. Then, if they do have an arts or music teacher, they can go to other instructors with a basic understanding which can help students feel more comfortable.

“We aren’t assuming that everyone here is going to be a violinist or dancer,” Hochman said. “But this is a place where it can be nurtured in, so kids don’t necessarily grow up and say that they’re not creative, like a lot of people do.”

Even though the course is only one semester long, students do not necessarily finish with the arts as soon as they complete the class.

“This summer, the district paid for all of the teachers to go to New York City,” Hochman said. “We took them on immersion trips to get them inspired. We saw a lot of art and developed a partnership with the Dance Theatre of Harlem.”

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