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In an effort to promote the arts at the elementary education level, the Telitha E. Lindquist College of Arts & Humanities announced last week a $3 million donation from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation.
The grant, which will fund an endowed arts program in elementary schools, will partially fund the endowed chair, who will implement and oversee art-integration programs.
“In this time, when arts are under fire in schools, this is a gift, a very generous gift,” said Tamara Goldbogen, the newly appointed Beverley Taylor Sorenson-endowed chair for arts learning.
Goldenbogen, whose background is in children’s theater, has taught and presented workshops all over the world, including Australia and South Korea. Goldenbogen said she believes engaging children’s curiosity and imagination through the arts will benefit them in the long run.
“I think the arts do that uniquely — engage the imagination,” she said. “They can engage curiosity.”
Goldenbogen said integrating kinesthetic and visual elements into subjects like science, math and social studies helps students remember the material.
Although the idea of integrated arts program is nothing new to schools in the community, Goldbogen’s job is to expand the existing program and help teach university students how to incorporate the arts into the core curriculum.
Due to the grant, WSU will work closely with the state-funded Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program. The program’s philosophy, according to Goldbogen, is to put an arts specialist into the schools, work side by side with classroom teachers and do arts integration in a content area, meeting objectives on both subjects.
Madonne Miner, the dean of the College of Arts & Humanities, said she believes that although Goldbogen is new to her position, she is already making a difference. Right now, the arts-integration program is currently serving two Ogden schools: James Madison and Horace Mann Elementary School.
“Once she knows more of the principals, more of the superintendents, then we’ll be making decisions about which schools will come on board soonest,” Miner said. “She (Goldbogen) will also be advertising for university students who want to be become involved.”
Miner said WSU has known about the Sorenson Legacy Foundation for some time, but talks of getting involved haven’t included the College of Education until now.
“In order for us to make a successful grant proposal to the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program, we needed to get the education college on board,” she said. The goal of the college “runs in tandem with Gov. Herbert’s goal of achieving a much greater percentage of Utah citizens graduating from college.”
Although it’s a long-term goal, Miner said research indicates that art-integration programs that start at the elementary school level help make this goal possible by keeping children in school longer.
“I’m just really grateful to the Sorenson Foundation and to the Utah legislatures,” Miner said, “because they have been providing support, and they are, I think, beginning to realize how important it is that we have art in the elementary schools.”
Already students are getting involved with art-integration programs. Senior Amelia Martinez, a dance performance and choreography major, said she has worked on integrating the arts, particularly dance, into subjects like math and geography.
Martinez said the dance program’s Moving Company doubles as an outreach program. Every year, depending on the instructor, the dancers will build moving lesson plans that are cohesive to WSU’s yearly theme.
“This year we have gone into a head-start program and talked about air,” said Martinez, noting that the WSU Engaged Learning Series theme this year is On Air. “With that, we have them doing dance things. They are getting up and moving.”
The Moving Company has worked with Horace Mann Elementary School students and geography in the past, as well as with the Creative Arts Academy in Bountiful.
Martinez said she believes children who move as they learn remember things more easily.
“We remember the times we get to run around and move things, like the parachute in P.E. class,” she said. “They get excited, and it helps them remember more.”