NCESD receives $35,000 grant for Creative Start Regional Grant supporting arts integration efforts in Early Learning Communities

WENATCHEE - The North Central Educational Service District (NCESD) has been awarded a grant of $35,000 to support and develop professional learning opportunities in arts integration that serve students and educators in preschool through 3rd grade.

This award is part of the Washington State Arts Commission Creative Start Regional Grants program which supports regional partnerships between Educational Service Districts, school districts, teaching artists, and early learning educators.

The North Central Educational Service District will work with the Apple STEM Network, Palisades School District, and other partners to offer two types of professional learning opportunities: Arts Integration Champion Cohorts and a series of stand alone Arts Integration workshops for early learning educators.

Arts Integration Champion Cohorts will participate in focused coaching cycles and engage in ongoing learning to support specific goals. Early Learning partners from other educational service districts (ESDs) have voiced interest in participating in a Train-the-Trainer Arts Integration Champions Cohort. This would allow staff from other regions to learn together and build local capacity for promoting arts integration practices. Migrant Early Learning partners from multiple regions have also expressed a desire to form a cohort to explore the intersection of arts integration and migrant education. These cohorts will dramatically increase the reach of this project outside of the North Central region.

Recognizing that early learning providers are entering this work at different levels of understanding, with different outside obligations, and with different, and with varying capacity to engage in new learning, this grant will also provide Stand Alone Professional Learning Opportunities. These workshops will be available to all members of the early learning community, with a focus on engaging Family, Friend, and Neighbor caregivers in a variety of ways.

Considering the principles for effective adult learning, this program will embrace arts integration (AI) practices within the arms of initiatives familiar to educators. This will allow teachers to more easily identify the “why”, to feel more prepared to learn new practices, and to experience new learning through the lens of prior experiences. Two primary initiatives that will be woven into this work are Universal Design for Learning and Social Emotional Learning.

Capitalizing on the strong connection between Arts Integration and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), we expect to see increased implementation of inclusionary practices. Arts integration is powerfully aligned with the principles of UDL; the arts provide multiple ways to represent information, multiple ways for students to express and demonstrate their understandings, and multiple ways to engage students in learning experiences.

The arts are also a vehicle for Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Data from 2019 WaKIDS (Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills) Whole-Child Assessment indicates that 79% of children entered kindergarten “ready” in the area of social emotional development and more than 20% of children entered with skills typical of 0-3 year olds. Arts-based SEL professional learning aims to close gaps in this area of development.

Josie Komorowski, Early Learning (P-3) Coordinator at the North Central Educational Service District, shares that, “there has not yet been an intensive regional platform for arts integration in early learning. Bringing an intentional focus to arts integration will allow other efforts to come together on a connected path leading towards improved quality of life, amplified celebrations of diversity, and greater success in school and beyond for our youngest learners, their families, and communities. This program will bring identity, cultural heritage, stories, and self to the picture.The arts help us feel connection and recognition and allow us to bridge division in our communities. We need this now more than ever.”

The Washington State Arts Commission Creative Start Regional Grant will enable the North Central Educational Service District and its partners to:

  • Establish cohorts for ongoing professional learning opportunities

  • Offer stand alone professional learning opportunities

  • Engage in coaching cycles based on data with cohort participants

  • Highlight the importance of of the arts in inclusionary practices and social emotional learning



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