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Art Education Program Created by Kendall Receives NEA Grant

Posted September 4, 2012 in Youth and AdultsPublic

The Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) received a $10,000 Arts Education in American Communities grant by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for its educational program, Language Artists: Creature Connections. The grant required a local matching gift, which was fulfilled by several local donors, including Ted and Brenda Frey; Keller Foundation; X-Rite, Incorporated; and Mercantile Bank of Michigan. This is the second NEA grant the program has received since its inception in 2011.

Language Artists: Creature Connections is a uniquely conceived unit of study that coordinates school tours of the Grand Rapids Art Museum to enhance teaching and learning of challenging moments in the third grade curriculum. The program was created in partnership with Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, and Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS),  and was designed specifically for third grade educators and students, combining literacy and the visual arts for a unique field trip to the Museum. Through pre-visit classroom activities, learner-centered in-gallery experiences, and post-visit visual and language arts lessons, this program enriches the development of reading, writing, and verbal communication skills.

Kendall Art Education Program Chair Dr. Cindy Todd noted, “This has been an exciting collaboration for Kendall. We have had the opportunity to train all of the GRPS third grade classroom teachers in the importance of art in education and to help them understand the exceptional link between art and literacy. All of the third grade students have had a significant experience viewing GRAM's permanent collection and we have co-designed kinesthetic activities to make the gallery experiences even more significant. We excited and hopeful that these experiences will help the students to write more effectively and that they will boost students’ scores on specific writing portions of the MEAP test.”

"We were so delighted to receive notification about our second consecutive year of NEA recognition," said Jon Carfagno, GRAM's Education Director. "The Education Department is grateful for this opportunity to demonstrate the powerful role that art can play in rigorous and transformative classroom experiences, and we appreciate the efforts of the dedicated collaborative team whose efforts make this possible." Carfagno said the Education Department looks forward to using the funds to continue to make an impact in area schools.

During the 2012/13 school year, GRAM plans to expand the program's reach to involve over 2,500 students from Grand Rapids Public Schools, Wyoming Public Schools, Godfrey-Lee Public Schools, and regional parochial schools.