Teach MAM: An Exciting Partnership to Strengthen Arts Education Across Louisiana
Teach MAM Pineville Elementary
“Those boys have my whole heart, and if I opened only one set of eyes to a different lifestyle—a different world—then my heart can rest easy,” says Heather Robinson, a paraprofessional and boys’ running coach at Pineville Elementary. She is one of many staff members at Pineville who have a passion for providing opportunities to students who are at-risk.
Pineville Elementary is a fourth through sixth grade Leader in Me school in Rapides Parish. With 94% considered economically disadvantaged and 8% considered homeless, the challenges of the school are great. At the beginning of the school year, the staff at Pineville worked with student leaders to develop their vision for the school year. Part of their aim is to provide music, art, and movement opportunities at little or no cost.
Students can choose from a variety of musical instruments to play, such as the flute, trumpet, baritone, saxophone, violin, cello, and the upright bass. The strings and band teachers begin work with students when they reach fifth grade. Students can also choose to sing in the choir.
Carolyn Scalfano, the art teacher, connects lessons to established artists, and student art is displayed in every hallway. After school, the students enjoy additional activities such as archery, long distance running, basketball, cheerleading, chess club, and student council.
The school also boasts a state championship in elementary robotics. One of the teams, the Lioneers, competed on the world stage and placed 29th out of 384 teams in robot skills challenges.
The principal, Dr. Erin Stokes, says that finding funding and time to teach specialty classes can prove to be difficult, but with the support of the community, including local businesses and non-profits, as well as creative scheduling, it can be accomplished. The staff members volunteer their time and see the benefits of TEACH: MAM (Music, Arts, and Movement) every day.
The administrators say that when students have the opportunity to move and be creative, they are more engaged in school, and relationships with staff members are strengthened.