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Promoting art education a focus for officials in Hampton schools

| Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, 1:15 p.m.

Promoting and strengthening the arts within the Hampton School District could be a continuing goal for the new year, according to Superintendent Michael Loughead.

Sarah Tambucci, executive director of the Arts Education Collaborative in Pittsburgh, recently met with Loughead to discuss ways to make art education more visible within the district.

Loughead said that Hampton already has a long tradition of promoting arts within the district and he's excited to continue and grow on what it already has. He said they are fortunate to have so many avenues for students to express themselves creatively, whether it's through theater, band, music, visual arts or dance.

“We want to maintain that and find ways to improve,” said Loughead.

Tambucci said she worked with Loughead when he was assistant superintendent at South Fayette School District, where he focused on promoting arts as well.

After meeting with Tambucci, he said one of the first initiatives is to make art more visual in the district such as displaying student artwork at the central and other administrative offices.

Arts Education Collaborative, established in 1998, works with districts in Allegheny and surrounding counties by focusing on “strengthening education by making arts central to learning through collaboration, research and advocacy,” according to its website.

As part of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which President Barack Obama initiated to replace the No Child Left Behind Act, it calls for a balanced curriculum, which includes art education, whether it be music, dancing, theater and so forth, said Tambucci.

She said many students who are strong in science and math also have strong art skills. Also, she said art acts as a magnet, drawing many students to school, which is the first goal.

Loughead also stated access to art programs often helps students to improve in other educational areas.

She said those who don't feel arts aren't as important as other subjects are “sadly mistaken.”

Loughead, who was hired as superintendent this past year, said they are looking forward to discussing what types of services the AEC can provide the school district in the future.

The Arts Education Collaborative often takes an overall comprehensive look at the whole kindergarten through 12th grade program, including a self assessment, said Tambucci.

“It's not a Band-Aid approach,” she said.

Tambucci was an art teacher for 23 years and then principal for 10 years. She has been executive director at the Arts Education Collaborative for 16 years.

Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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