Oct. 12, 2017
NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) today announced that its “Professional Development in Arts Education” grant – a collaborative effort with North Adams Public Schools, MCLA’s arts management program and the Berkshire Compact – recently was approved for nearly $740,000 in funding by the United States Department of Education. Out of 70 grants, the “Professional Development in Arts Education” grant was one of 20 national projects to be funded.

Funding for this “Professional Development in Arts Education” grant will be distributed over four years.

MCLA President James F. Birge said he is delighted the College will work with North Adams Public Schools and the Berkshire Compact to support arts-integrated, professional development for Berkshire County educators, as they are partnered with cultural institutions and arts educators in local schools.

“Collaborations such as this arts education project are part of MCLA’s mission and responsibility as the Commonwealth’s public liberal arts institution. We are proud to be part of this important, nationally funded grant project, which will serve as a bridge between the arts, education and the public school systems in our area,” Birge said.

North Adams Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Malkas, Ed.D, said the U.S. Department of Education grant is a validation of the school systems’ commitment to arts education as a vehicle for developing the creative and critical thinking, as well as the social and emotional learning skills for future readiness.

“Through arts education, the educators of our district can engage our students in authentic and personalized learning experiences that empower them to develop their own points of view, expression, and reflection. This grant supports our educators in arts integration and our students in becoming the kind of people we want inheriting our communities,” Malkas said.

According to Dr. Lisa Donovan, MCLA professor of Fine and Performing Arts, “The Berkshire Arts Integration Network will align the tremendous regional assets we have in arts and culture, higher education and K-12 education.”

She continued, “We cannot hit the mark on entrepreneurship, innovation and creative economy without building creative capacity in our young people. MCLA is a hub for artistic innovation, and we are delighted to co-design and lead this important initiative with the Berkshire Compact and North Adams Public School District.”

The project will provide 70 hours of high-quality, professional development for arts educators and general classroom teachers who integrate the arts to deepen practice, improve student engagement, and increase skills in working across Webb’s Depth of Knowledge Levels.

The initiative also will align world class arts organizations’ assets and offerings to area schools, create significant mentorships and partnerships for schools with cultural institutions, and increase the use of arts-based strategies for formative and summative student assessment.

In addition, “Professional Development in Arts Education” will create a portal for a digital exchange of resources and arts-integrated curriculum within the region, and build on significant work already completed over the last four years, to build a collective impact model for arts education in Berkshire County. Dean Jake Eberwein, Berkshire Compact Lead, suggests, "This collaborative effort continues a spirit of regional alignment on programs and services across school districts - presenting unique opportunities for local educators and positive outcomes for our students."

Along with MCLA, the North Adams Public Schools, in collaboration with the Berkshire Compact, will lead this effort across four school districts. Sixty-six percent of the North Adams Public School student body of pre-K to grade 12 consists of youth who are part belong to economically disadvantaged families, as defined by the poverty criteria in Title I, Section 1113 (a) of the ESEA.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth's public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

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