Niles Community Schools Adopts New Arts Curriculum – Leader Publications


NILES — A new program is in the works for the art department at Niles Community Schools.

The NCS Board of Education unanimously approved the adoption of a seven-year K-12 art degree program subscription at the University of Art Education Monday at Cedar Lane .

Founded in 2011, AOEU has grown to become one of the nation’s largest arts education graduate programs and provides quality, accessible education to an underserved population of K-12 art teachers.

Purchasing seven-year access to the AOEU will cost the district $17,826.20.

According to Niles Community Schools Program Director, Dr. Ann Bingham, the last arts curriculum review process took place during the 1999-2000 school year.

Richelle Bower, an art teacher at Howard-Ellis Elementary School, spoke in support of the AOEU program during a presentation to the board.

“As art teachers, we’re a different ball game,” she said. “Our kids are coming, we have 45 minutes and with what we have to do with the standards, you know, there is this standard and we want to hit for the kids. We want them to understand that there is something going on that goes beyond just the fact that we are playing in this room, but that we want to teach them a skill and we want to teach them something social to learn about themselves.

According to Bingham and Bowers, what made AOEU an attractive proposition was its flexible “Flex” program and its PRO learning program. The Flex Curriculum platform provides art teachers with thousands of approved, standards-compliant teaching materials that school districts need.

“Every month new lessons come out, not just in one grade level, but in all major K-12 levels,” Bingham said. “Each lesson is differentiated so you can push or pull depending on what’s going on with your students and the type of class you have. Our art teachers already have phenomenal projects that are aligned with the standards and what what it does is it helps elevate that. They have access to more projects to have access to our ideas so they can differentiate and personalize for their learners.”

Described as the only on-demand professional development platform designed for K-12 art teachers, PRO Learning provides hundreds of school districts across the country with tools to empower art teachers training, how-to tutorials and resources.

“It was really helpful,” Bowers said. “It’s just what you learn and what the teachers learn and try to teach in the classroom, but they do it for us, which has the fastest time limits in the world. I thought that was super cool.”

“It’s very, very difficult for someone who facilitates professional development to come up with something that makes sense for our teachers,” Bingham said. “There is very rarely an art-specific PD, not that some of the things we cover in the PD don’t apply to their particular discipline, but this program gives them the opportunity to get involved in many different professional learning modules.”

With the program approved, Bingham looks forward to what the future of the art department will bring.

“We took a chance on this one,” she said. “We knew where it was going, but when the teachers were thrilled with it and then used it, we knew it was the right way to go.”


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