Music, Arts, & Movement
Teach MAM Final Recap: Our Journey Through the Process!
Keyre’ Reed Bradford, Carolyn Scalfano, & Annelise Cassar Tedesco
It has been an honor and a privilege for all of us to be a part of such a dynamic group of human beings. Our journey as the Teach MAM Ambassadors has been an outstanding experience for each of us. We have been surrounded by First Lady Donna Edwards and her phenomenal staff of the Louisiana First Foundation for years. We have learned so much and gained valuable knowledge from this experience. We have traveled around the state to advocate for the equal rights and opportunities of movement teachers (physical education, dance, adapted physical education), music teachers and art educators. This opportunity has afforded us the chance to open the minds of others and to educate them on the importance of arts integration and how important it is in educating the whole child.
The Teach MAM initiative was designed and created to encourage schools and school districts to incorporate music, art, and movement into their curriculums. Research and studies have proven that including the arts in the education process will successfully teach the whole child and help students achieve better results in academics and life skills.
Through the process of arts integration, students around the state of Louisiana have the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills that benefit teaching the “whole child.” Teaching to the whole child is critical to providing our students with optimal opportunities for learning and development.
Keyre Reed Bradford
My personal experience as a Teach MAM Movement Ambassador has been a time of pure delight. I am proud of my time and dedication to the teaching profession as a health and physical education specialist. Through this process, I have gained a deeper respect and passion for teaching students through the arts. Teaching has changed so much in the last 20 years of my career. Students require so much more than just paper and pencil educational techniques to learn the curriculum. Students need and thrive off of interactive and dynamic teaching strategies. Utilizing the arts to teach different aspects of the curriculum has been a fun and exciting experience.
I would like parents, school districts, and community business leaders to understand how important the arts are for some students. Those students who may require different and unique teaching strategies for them to grasp important concepts may benefit from arts integration teaching methods.
If ever as a parent, community leader, or member of a school community you have the opportunity to make a positive impact or influence a decision to support your arts programs in your area, please do so. The benefits are outstanding for a student’s academic success and overall well-being! I wish everyone the best, and it has been a pleasure! God Bless!
When I was approached by Mrs. Edwards to join this initiative, I was thrilled. I hoped that this opportunity to advocate with Teach MAM would connect varied populations, as I am a working contemporary artist as well as an educator in the classrooms at high poverty schools in central Louisiana.
My journey as a Visual Arts Ambassador these past years allowed me to share the profound impression that providing my students with access to the arts made on not only individuals and our school climate but the entire community. Our students instantly rose to fame and became known for their work and knowledge of the visual arts. Other schools consistently requested tours of our school, seeking guidance on how they too could take action to provide their students access to the visual arts. Our school was regularly televised on the local news station and was supported and recognized by the Alexandria Museum of Art. The impact was undeniable. When the arts are integrated with the core curriculum, it allows students to learn differently, find strengths, regulate emotions, and build confidence as human beings in this world.
I was thrilled to document this process and share it on such a prominent platform through the support of the Louisiana First Foundation. Who would have thought that the work of some elementary kids from Pineville, Louisiana, would make it to the State Capital? The process of sharing our journey has taught me so much not only as an artist and educator but as a human. Mrs. Edwards’ strength, compassion, and positivity ignited in me a newfound appreciation of what I, and what we all, are capable of. I pray that you, as well, are inspired by this remarkable initiative to truly believe in your core values and tirelessly work to follow your dreams.
Annelise Cassar Tedesco
As the staff and volunteers of the Louisiana First Foundation share this blog and the articles included, it would be easy to feel that we are presenting a conclusion. However, I believe that we are instead preparing a commencement, a beginning of a new era when Louisianans all across our state will see the value and necessity for every child to have access to rigorous and enriching music, art, and movement education opportunities.
The work that Mrs. Edwards has done to elevate and advocate for arts education is unparalleled, and it has been an honor to be a part of her advocacy efforts. I am so thankful that I have been able to add my voice to the message that arts education opportunities are important and necessary for all.
I am also particularly thankful for the new opportunities that have been presented to my students and students across our state. From students lifting their voices to advocate for arts education before the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) in Baton Rouge, learning from professional artists through master classes in New Orleans, and Christmas caroling at the Governor’s Mansion, students have been given more opportunities to learn, grow, and connect with their peers and the professional artists within our state’s arts community.
In many communities, this time of year is a season of preparation. Be it purchasing gifts, preparing a home, partaking in a meal, or participating in a service, this is a time of year when many reflect on the time that will soon conclude and look forward with hope and expectation to the new season to come. It has been a privilege to collaborate with the 56th First Lady, her office, my fellow Teach MAM ambassadors, the staff of the Louisiana First Foundation, and the Governor’s office to help our state community grow and prepare for this new season where I believe Louisianans will not only recognize the value and necessity of arts education for every child but work to create new opportunities that will provide lasting impact for generations to come.
As we reflect on the work of the Louisiana First Foundation to support foster care, end human trafficking, and empower the arts, I hope all of us will embrace this season’s ideas of hope and expectation and participate in making a positive impact in the lives of the children of our state.
Overall, Arts Integration is a very beneficial tool that if utilized properly can provide teachers and students with endless positive outcomes in education. The Seneca Academy of the Arts states that:
Here is what we’ve learned through experience about why arts integration is so important:
- Working in the arts helps learners to develop creative problem-solving skills.
- Teaching through the arts can present difficult concepts visually, making them more easy to understand.
- Art instruction helps children with the development of motor skills, language skills, social skills, decision-making, risk-taking, and inventiveness.
- Visual arts teach learners about color, layout, perspective, and balance: all techniques that are necessary for presentations (visual, digital) for academic work.
- Integrating art with other disciplines reaches students who might not otherwise be engaged in classwork.
- Arts experiences boost critical thinking, teaching students to take the time to be more careful and thorough in how they observe the world.
- The arts provide challenges for learners at all levels.
- Art education connects students with their own culture as well as with the wider world.
- A report by Americans for the Arts states that young people who participate regularly in the arts (three hours a day on three days each week through one full year) are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, participate in a math and science fair, or win an award for writing an essay or poem than children who do not participate.
- A study of Missouri public schools in 2010 found that greater arts education led to fewer disciplinary infractions and higher attendance, graduation rates, and test scores. https://www.senecaacademy.org/
With all the positive influences the Arts can have on students, teachers, and the curriculum, we as educators need to seize the opportunity to include and integrate the Arts into everyday teaching practices and curriculum mandates. As Teach MAM ambassadors, it is our responsibility to advocate in teaching and supporting the “whole child” and the Arts provides us with that opportunity.
According to The Kennedy Center:
“Arts Integration, as an approach to teaching and learning, supports many tenets for the development of the whole child by providing emotional safety, promoting full engagement in learning that is personally meaningful and challenging. The arts offer wholeness to learning that integrates thought, feeling, and action, weaving together “the threads that connect mind, body, and spirit.”
Annelise Cassar Tedesco is Louisiana’s 2022 Teacher of the Year and the Teach MAM Music Ambassador for First Lady Donna Edwards’s Louisiana First Foundation. She also serves as Music Director for The Performing Arts Academy and CHS Voices in St. Bernard Parish Public School District.
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