Arts partnerships aid education at O.H. Perry
By the CMSD News Bureau
The arts play a dynamic part in the comprehensive education being offered at Oliver H. Perry School.
The Cleveland Metropolitan School District PreK-8 school on Schenely Avenue has started partnerships this school year with the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning and the Dancing Wheels troupe.
Oliver H. Perry Principal Anne Priemer believes bringing artists into the classrooms furthers a child’s development.
“It enhances a young child’s motor skills, language development, visual learning, cultural awareness and creativity, which are essential to academic achievement,” she said. “Arts education fosters students’ critical thinking and observation skills because it requires students to focus and spend time observing and analyzing the world around them.”
Priemer, in her first year at the school after completing the CMSD’s Aspiring Principals Academy, previously worked as a teacher in New York and as director of curriculum and instruction at a Cleveland-area charter school. She said studies have shown that schools with robust art programs are often higher performing.
“Arts education can reinforce what students are learning in their core content areas,” she said, citing two examples:
* When a local 4H club visited the school, she said members were impressed that so many of the Oliver H. Perry fifth-graders could answer all of the questions about Newton’s Laws of Physics. Priemer said the students knew the answers because they are “choreographing their own dance with Dancing Wheels based on Newton’s Laws.”
* She also said that many of her students are more excited to come to school because of a graphic arts project through the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning in which “they know they will be creating digital images that may end up on a Jones Soda bottle for distribution.”
Priemer said the effect of the arts on education isn’t always easily measured, but it can still be seen easily enough – if you’re looking.
“When Dancing Wheels came to perform for the entire school, even our kindergarten and first-grade students were mesmerized for the whole hour,” she said. “Anyone who knows students that age knows that’s a big deal.”
She said students regularly ask whether the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning's Jimmie Woody, a professional actor, director and teaching artist, will be in the school that day or if the center is going to help with a year-end play again this school year.
“That’s the conundrum with the arts – how do you measure a direct impact?” she said. “But we know that it does make a difference and that it also helps us market our school to families who are interested in both academics and arts.”
Thomas Ott is director of the CMSD News Bureau