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Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) - Arts as Part of a Well-Rounded Education

On December 10, 2015 President Barack Obama signed S.1177, Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a bipartisan bill which supports the principle of educating the "whole child." While the new act shrinks the federal role in education reform and hands more decision-making to the states, arts education advocacy at the state and local level will be more critical than ever. Important to note is that arts and music are included in a definition of a "well-rounded education" - a term that has replaced the current definition of "core academic subjects," which had included the "arts." The language also allows for the addition of dance, theatre and digital media to be included under the term "any other subject" that provides students with an enriched educational experience.

The ESSA 18 month implementation plan continues with the U.S. Department of Education moving forward with new regulations that will govern state plans and accountability systems. AEMS joined 51 national and state arts and arts education organizations in filing joint comments on ESSA. There were over 21, 000 comments posted on the site. The letter’s main focus was to ensure that all of the arts are included in the well rounded education and therefore defining “arts” is imperative in the language.

It is critically important in all future regulatory and non-regulatory guidance that the Department uses “arts” and not “art” to avoid the misperception that the reference is solely to the visual arts. Moreover, as part of the legislative record and clear intent of the Senate, S. Rept. 114-231 clarifies that the term “arts” is meant to encompass all forms and disciplines of the arts: For the purposes of this definition, the term ‘arts’ may include the subjects of dance, media arts, music, theatre and visual arts, and other arts disciplines as determined by the State or local educational agency.

More information about ESSA, including the full letter and resources, can be found here.

MATI 2016 - Maryland Artistry in Teaching Institute

Working in partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education and the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC), AEMS administers the Maryland Artistry in Teaching Institute (MATI) grant. MATI is a professional development program for arts education and arts integration teachers, conducted by master teachers, artist educators, and artists recommended by MSAC, held in regional locations for one-week during the summer with additional training and networking opportunities conducted throughout the academic year. Approximately 600 arts educators and arts integration teachers explore and develop personal creative habits followed by arts discipline specific instruction, led by master teachers, taught in studio environments to awaken the artist in each participant while providing a deep investigation of the latest artistic techniques. Afternoon sessions for arts educators offer additional studio time, collaborative working sessions, and unit planning while arts integration teachers focus on pedagogy, inquiry-based learning practices, arts assessments and unit planning. Each summer day concludes with a student-centered performance. During the academic year, along with quarterly master classes for participants, MATI also offers ongoing professional development through contributions to statewide fine arts briefings and student work exhibitions, sponsoring national professional development opportunities for MSDE fine arts staff members, assisting in the development and maintenance of state fine arts standards, and raising the awareness of Maryland fine arts education through digital design and marketing.

Four regional MATIs took place this summer:

MATI West, Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, Hagerstown, June 20-23, 2016

MATI East, North Caroline High School, Denton, June 27-30, 2016

MATI North, North Patapsco High School, Baltimore, July 11-14, 2016

MATI South, Southern High School, Harwood, July 18-21, 2016

Learn more about the great success of MATI 2016 at the MSDE Office of Fine Arts' blog.

For inquiries, please contact Emily Cory, Maryland State Department of Education, Office of Fine Arts,

Cultural Arts for Education (CAFE)

Thanks to all who contributed to the phenomenal success of the seventeenth Cultural Arts for Education (CAFE 2016) Conference sponsored by Arts Education in Maryland Schools (AEMS) Alliance on June 2, 2016. For the first time, AEMS and the Maryland State Department of Education combined the events of CAFE and the spring Fine Arts Briefing.

UMBC's Performing Arts and Humanities Building was the perfect venue for this year's conference. CAFE 2016: Creative Change Making - Social Justice through the Arts, brought together over two hundred teachers, fine arts supervisors and administrators, arts organizations, and artists to hear how the arts and arts education can and does play a role in the development of our society, breaking barriers and forming connections across cultural differences.

The audience was completely energized as Dr. Freeman Hrawboski, President of University of Maryland, Baltimore County brought greetings. His inspirational words completely aligned with our social change through the arts conference theme.

Also at CAFE, it was AEMS' great honor to present Dr. Jack Smith with the second annual Jay Tucker Award for Outstanding Leadership in Arts Education. Dr. Smith has contributed so much to growing understanding and building the awareness of the benefits for students experiencing the creative process through arts instruction the during their education as Interim Superintendent for Maryland State Department of Education and through his work as the co-chair of the Governor's P-20 Leadership Council Task Force on Arts Education in Maryland Schools.

From the impressive panel discussion to the informative sessions to the inspiring student performances the 220 participants in attendance left knowing that by engaging students in social issues in and through the arts we can ensure a healthy, safe, and nurturing environment for our future. It was clear that our mission-driven work, as realized through CAFE, has impact on teaching and learning across the state.

AEMS continues to support arts advocates and educators through professional development opportunities as Maryland is leading the way to improve arts education for every child!

Click here for more information, including photos from the event!

Presentation at the 2016 National Art Education Association Convention in Chicago on March 18

Alexa Milroy, Director of Program and Administration at AEMS, attended the National Art Education Association Convention in Chicago on March 16-19, 2016. Alexa presented a session with Kenneth Skrzesz, Fine Arts Coordinator at the Maryland State Department of Education, Lisa Stuart, Visual Arts Supervisor at Prince George's County Public Schools, and Eleni Dykstra, Visual Arts Coordinator at Anne Arundel County Public Schools. The session focused on the work being done in Maryland that stemmed from the Governor's P-20 Leadership Council Task Force on Arts Education in Maryland Schools. One example shared at the session was a memo Dr. Kevin Maxwell, CEO of Prince George's County Public Schools, sent out to all his principals about art expectations as part of the district's strategic plan. A copy of that memo can be found here. A copy of the PowerPoint presentation can be found here.

Three Maryland Principals Named Outstanding Leaders in Arts Education

Arts Education in Maryland Schools (AEMS) Alliance announced the 2015 Alvin and Louise Myerberg Arts Leadership Recognition Awards on October 28, 2015 at a breakfast and forum held at The Baltimore Museum of Art. The winning principals were Judy Brubaker, principal of Spark Matsunaga Elementary School in Montgomery County, Paul DeRoo, principal of Wiley H. Bates Middle School in Anne Arundel County, and Patricia Hosfelt, principal of Spring Ridge Elementary School in Frederick County.

AEMS honored twelve outstanding principals from schools in eight counties around the state. All of the nominees received Certificates of Acknowledgement for establishing arts-rich environments in their schools. The three winners received a trophy and a monetary gift to support their arts programs. School system leaders and teachers attended the event to show support for their principals. Lyn Frankel, Chair of the AEMS Board of Trustees, Lori Snyder, Executive Director of AEMS, and Ken Skrzesz, Coordinator of Fine Arts at the Maryland State Department of Education, gave remarks and congratulated all of the principals. Ken also led a group discussion on best practices in arts leadership. The Baltimore Museum of Art's education staff presented information on the new Patricia and Mark Joseph Education Center and attendees got to explore the space.

For more information about the winners and nominees, click here.

Lori Snyder Named New Executive Director at AEMS

Dear AEMS Colleagues, Partners, Supporters, and Friends:

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am pleased to announce the appointment of AEMS' new Executive Director, Ms. Lori Snyder. Recognized with national and local awards, including the Maryland Art Educator of the Year in 2011 by the National Art Education Association, Lori was instrumental in the development and implementation of the Performing & Visual Arts Magnet Programs in Anne Arundel County Public Schools. She most recently served as Senior Manager of the PVA Magnet Programs.

Lori Snyder has been a key partner with AEMS for many years. In her words, "I am thrilled to serve as the new Executive Director and look forward to continuing the great work of AEMS supporting arts educators, artists, school administrators, and organizations as we advocate for high quality arts education for all students in the state of Maryland!"

During the past three years, AEMS has spearheaded work to establish a statewide approach to increasing students' access to quality arts education. Through the Governor's P-20 Leadership Council Task Force on Arts Education in Maryland Schools, which AEMS co-chaired, staffed, and published the final report, the entire state now has a guide for coherent and consistent action to bring equity, quality, and access in arts education to all Maryland students. With Lori Snyder's leadership, AEMS will continue the momentum around implementation of the 10 recommendations in the task force report.

Lori will begin at AEMS on November 2nd.


Lyn Frankel, Chair

Lori Snyder's Bio

Lori received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Maryland, followed by furthering her graduate studies at Loyola University. Lori began her career in 1982 as an Elementary School Art Teacher; where she clearly distinguished herself as a maverick in the Arts Integration field long before it was in vogue. As Lori's career evolved, she became immersed in the Gifted and Talented Programs for Students, identifying opportunities for elementary and secondary students in art, music, drama, and dance. Perhaps her most pivotal role was when Lori collaborated with colleagues at Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) to write a grant for nearly $700,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Education to increase Mathematics achievement at the Wiley H. Bates Performing and Visual Arts Middle School. She co-authored the article "Transforming Teaching through Arts Integration" that was published in the Journal for Learning through the Arts in January of 2014 that highlights the model and findings from the grant. Largely due to Lori's leadership, Bates Middle School has been recognized by the College Board and the George Lucas Educational Foundation for its excellence in teaching all children with and through the arts and was received an award for Arts Integration from the Arts Schools Network.

Simultaneously, Lori worked with arts partners, leaders in AACPS, representatives from higher education and arts partners across the state to develop and implement AACPS' first Performing & Visual Arts Magnet Programs. During her tenure as Senior Manager of the Performing & Visual Arts Magnet Programs, the magnificent arts addition was added to the Annapolis High School building and she facilitated the transformation of a former school in Annapolis into Studio 39, the creative studios and performance space for AACPS' Performing and Visual Arts Magnet Programs.

Due to Lori's leadership, advocacy, and dedication, she has raised the bar in Anne Arundel County Public Schools for integration of arts across the curriculum, elevating the school system as a role model regionally and nationally for the PVA model that she helped to develop. In conjunction with these accomplishments, Lori was recognized in 2011 as the Maryland Art Educator of the Year by the National Art Education Association and was chosen by the Anne Arundel County Arts Council as the 2014 Arts Educator Annie Award Winner. Lori's influence has been instrumental in the lives of many and has highlighted the talents of students as well as her colleagues.

Farewell and Thank You From Mary Cary

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

I have recently made the decision to leave AEMS and try retirement. Retirement is scary, so I am thinking of this as an attempt to slow down and catch up on some missed fun. My final day at AEMS is Thursday, September 24.

Attached is the announcement for my position, Executive Director of AEMS. As you know, AEMS is a robust organization with both policy and program agendas. I hope you will think about who would be the best person to continue our important work in this present environment of increased attention to the arts.

I have loved joining you in a collective advocacy for the arts for all children in our state. Thank you, each one of you, for being a supporter of the AEMS mission. I will miss you, but in my own way, I will continue to advocate for arts education, artists, arts organizations, and all who teach our young people.


Mary Cary

Cultural Arts for Education (CAFE) - May 28, 2015

CAFE 2015 was a terrific success. The three remarkable thinkers, Dr. Solomon Snyder, Dr. Martha Bridge Denckla, and Ms. Susan Magsamen, filled the opening session with thought-provoking ideas on interconnections between and among aspects of brain research, the arts, and the sciences. The breakout session presenters were excellent, and the student performances reminded us all why we care about access to the arts for all Maryland students. AEMS thanks all of the participants and the presenters for a learning, networking, and fun day.

Honoring the memory of Jay Tucker, retired Coordinator of Fine Arts at the Maryland State Department of Education, who passed away in January, the annual AEMS award was renamed The Jay Tucker Award for Outstanding Leadership in Arts Education in Maryland. As part of the award presentation, remarks were given in memory of his work. During the morning session, the 2015 award went to Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick, former Maryland State Superintendent and current Presidential Scholar at Towson University.

Click here to learn more about CAFE.


Governor Martin O’Malley’s P-20 Leadership Council Unanimously Approves Task Force Report on Arts Education

Tuesday, September 16, Governor O’Malley’s Leadership Council voted unanimously to accept the recommendations from his task force on arts education. These ten recommendations are based on the principles of equity and quality of arts education. The Governor, winner of both state and national awards in leadership in the arts, has expressed his strong support of students having access to the arts in their PK-12 education by stating, “The arts give our children the skills and diverse knowledge they need to become the leaders and innovators of tomorrow.”

The recommendations are on policy, curriculum and instruction, resource allocation, and professional development. Mary Ann Mears, co chair of the task force and founder of Arts Education in Maryland Schools (AEMS), stated in her remarks to the council that the arts “connect our whole being because they speak to our emotions, our reasoning, and our creativity.” Her co chair, Dr. Jack Smith, Chief Academic Officer at MSDE, stated that “students need a complete education.” All council members expressed their support by voting yes; there were no abstentions.

The full tast force report can be downloaded here: Task Force Final Report

An executive summary of the task force report can be downloaded here: Task Force Executive Summary of Final Report

The Review of the Literature and Bibliography can be downloaded here: Task Force Appendix C: Review of the Literature and Bibliography

STEM + Art: A Brilliant Combination by John Ceschini

John Ceschini, former AEMS Executive Director, wrote STEM + Art: A Brilliant Combination which was published in the December 3rd Edition of Education Week. His article investigates the power of integrating the arts into other subject areas, especially STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects. As an educational leader, John is able to see firsthand the value of arts-integrated learning..

The full article can be found here.

Introducing the New National Core Arts Standards

On Wednesday, June 4, 2014, the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) launched the new National Core Art Standards and interactive website. The new preK-12 standards for dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts are now available. The standards were written by and for arts educators to support quality teaching and learning. They were shaped with the input of more than 6,000 educators, teaching artists, parents, students, and focus groups. The standards integrate the four artistic processes — creating, performing, responding, and connecting — with the skills and knowledge, sample assessments, and criteria necessary for successful arts learning. The new, interactive NCAS website can be found here.

Governor Martin O'Malley's P-20 Leadership Council Creates a Task Force on Arts Education in Maryland

On Monday, September 16, 2013, Governor Martin O’Malley’s P-20 Leadership Council voted unanimously to have a statewide task force on arts education in Maryland schools. Dr. William E. (Brit) Kirwan, Chancellor of the University System of Maryland, made the initial motion to endorse and commented on the power of the arts in his life and the importance of the arts for all students. Co chairing the task force will be nationally known sculptor and founder of Arts Education in Maryland Schools (AEMS) Alliance, Mary Ann Mears, and Dr. Jack Smith, Deputy Superintendent at the Maryland State Department of Education. Governor O’Malley’s commitment to arts education is longstanding, and he has been recognized nationally with the prestigious Public Leadership in Arts Award. To continue Maryland’s standing as a national leader in education, the Governor wants to ensure that all students have access to a quality education which includes the arts. Council members commented on the critical importance of creativity and innovation in the workforce and the need for students to have a creative edge in order to be globally competitive. The P-20 Task Force on Arts Education will present the final report to the Governor and the Council in September 2014.

Task Force Press Release

Task Force Charge

ArtsEdSearch – new resource from Arts Education Partnership (AEP)

"ArtsEdSearch is the nation's first online research and policy clearinghouse focused entirely on student and educator outcomes associated with arts learning in and out of school. Featuring user-friendly summaries of high-quality research, and overviews of current research examined through different lenses, ArtsEdSearch provides reliable and objective information about the academic, cognitive, personal, social and professional outcomes of an arts education. ArtsEdSearch also identifies gaps in research and serves as a valuable roadmap for researchers and funders looking to tackle the most pressing education issues of our time." – from Arts Education Partnership website

Bates Middle School featured on Edutopia's "Schools that Work"

Edutopia's Schools That Work series profiles K-12 schools, districts, and programs that are dramatically improving the way students learn. Wiley H. Bates Middle School, in Annapolis, MD, was chosen as a School that Works because of their strong arts integrated classrooms.

To see the video and find out more...

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