KRISTIN CAMILIERE | STAFF REPORTER / Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
The Wallace Elementary School for Integrated Arts employs mostly Butler graduates. This high employment rate has to do with 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. 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,” Dr. Arthur Hochman, Professor of Elementary/Middle Childhood Education, said.
Hochman has been there from the beginning and 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,” said Hochman.
When students visit there for the practicum part of the course, they meet faculty and staff. And then when they go back to do their student teaching, they build even stronger connections, which results in many Butler grads getting hired.
“There are about four teachers who are not Butler grads,” Hochman said.
Butler and The Wallace School still continue to maintain a great connection. They have about 15 teachers in total.
“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.”
This school is a unlike most other elementary schools because of its founding principle of arts integration.
“Once I stepped foot in the building I knew it was a unique learning environment,” said Josie Wallfred, senior elementary education major. “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 in with 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 (Social Studies, Language Arts, Math and Science) with all of the arts,” Hochman said.
For example, this course teaches students how they can teach something 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 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,” Walfred 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 is not trying to replace music and art teachers. This course is more focused on giving kids exposure to the arts. And then if they do have an arts or music teacher, they can go to them with a basic understanding which can help them feel more comfortable.
“We aren’t assuming that everyone here is going to be a violinist or dancer, but 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,” Hochman said.
Even though the course is only a semester, students aren’t necessarily through with arts as soon as they finish.
“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.”