Written by Stacie Sanders Evans
President and CEO, Young Audiences / Arts for Learning
I love watching students memorize fractions by performing a dance routine or recall math facts through a song. Or marveling at a mural created by students to honor the important women and their contributions to science that they studied. I smile from ear to ear watching students in our Summer Arts & Learning Academy light up after making new connections using illustration, music, or poetry.
Every day across Maryland, I am reminded how arts-integrated educational experiences help students understand academic content. The joy and excitement that comes from not just seeing and hearing but by creating and doing, makes content interesting, relevant, and easier to understand.
Arts integration extends that joy and excitement beyond the classroom and into students’ lives. The arts help them see the world differently through new experiences, expanding their perspectives while testing new approaches.
That’s why this summer I was inspired to watch a group of rising high-school seniors grow and learn through arts opportunities outside of the school year. The Bloomberg Arts Internship Program just completed its inaugural summer in Baltimore, graduating 25 Baltimore City Public School students from the program.
The interns each completed six-week paid internships at 14 of the city’s leading arts and cultural organizations, including:
Baltimore Center Stage
Baltimore Museum of Art
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Center for Innovation, Research and Creativity in the Arts (CIRCA) – UMBC
Dance & BMore
Hippodrome Foundation, Inc.
Maryland Film Festival
Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)
Maryland Public Television
Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University
Port Discovery Children’s Museum
The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture
Sheridan Libraries and University Museums, Johns Hopkins University
Interns worked hands-on, three days a week at cultural organizations and participated in field trips and professional development on the other two. Young Audiences had the honor of managing the program, the rigorous application/selection process, and professional development along with our partner, the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (GBCA).
Excitement, pride, and curiosity filled the faces of 25 rising Baltimore City high school seniors earlier this month as they graduated from the program. The feeling was contagious. Parents, friends, teachers, and mentors looked on as interns told stories of their experiences, described projects and tasks they were assigned, and the impact it all had on their plans for the future. Some found passions they didn’t know they had. Others refined interests and built skills that will help prepare them to reach goals already set. All of them built important connections and relationships in the arts and cultural community.
The Bloomberg Arts Internship program is a reminder of so many things we learn through our work: that education extends beyond the classroom, that learning can (and must) happen year round, not just between September and June, and that we need to create these non-traditional opportunities for students to grow academically and personally. The arts open minds and inspire passions that last lifetimes. These programs plant those seeds for our children.
Just as I see the powerful impact of arts integration activities in school settings, I saw it this summer throughout Baltimore, as Baltimore’s Bloomberg Arts Interns discovered the world – and themselves- through their experience.
See more images from throughout the program on our Flickr page.