Arts & Humanities are a critical lens through which students view, make sense of and engage with the world around them. Learning about the present by looking at the past, communicating clearly, and thinking about morality and empathy are all better accomplished through the arts than through a regression analysis. As such, the Foundation helps support a rich offering of engaging arts and humanities opportunities for Bronxville students.
Foundation grants help bring the humanities to life for Elementary students. Multi-year partnerships with Lincoln Center and with artist-in-residence programs have allowed students the opportunity to examine and interpret art and literature in a more experiential manner and with expert guidance. Foundation resources have provided professional development for teachers from K-12 around evolving Common Core standards that require students be able to read text closely, interpret meaning and formulate opinions and arguments. As standards change, so must classroom libraries and resources, so the Foundation has helped replace and add to leveled collections of reading material for readers in several grades, allowing all students in a class to read and discuss the same text but geared to their reading level.
As students enter Middle School, being able to write persuasively, coherently and creatively in a variety of genres becomes increasingly important. Recognizing that, Director of Curriculum Mara Koetke along with Middle School English teachers requested a grant in 2015 to begin a phased integration of Columbia Teachers College Reading and Writing Program in the Middle School. By funding professional development and teaching materials, the Foundation enabled teachers throughout the Middle School to adopt a common rubric, standards and language for teaching writing that gave students clear direction for improving as writers from one grade to the next.
Students across the District have benefited from professional development for teachers who have learned how to use the Socratic Seminar technique. Teachers help facilitate student-run discussions aimed at developing a shared understanding of complex reading material.
As students enter high school, Foundation grants allow them to enjoy authentic experiences in creating their own art and engaging with art created by others. High School English teacher Franco D’Alessandro, a published playwright himself, requested funds in 2016 to create Playwrights in Performance – a play writing and performance workshop that has become a for-credit independent study course. Dr. Denise Lutter, the High School orchestra teacher, has used Foundation grants to bring professional composers in to work with the High School Orchestra to learn techniques that lead to each student composing their own original pieces of music.