Windgate Foundation gives $1.3 million to support K-12 arts education programs

by Talk Business & Politics staff ( 138 views 

The Windgate Foundation in Siloam Springs has awarded the University of Arkansas College of Education and Health Professions $1.3 million, or $266,735 for five years, toward its Arkansas A+ Schools program, according to a UA press release.

The program, based in North Little Rock, supports creative eduction in schools throughout the state by providing professional development, networking and research data to its member schools, according to the press release. Its focus is arts integration, in which various types of art, including music, visual art, drama or dance, is incorporated into subjects such as literacy, math, science and history.

“The merger of Arkansas A+ Schools with the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas will provide even greater strength in professional development for teachers, and great leadership in facilitating deeper learning in Arkansas schools,” John Brown, executive director of the Windgate Foundation, said in the press release. “We are excited by the vision and interest of [College of Education and Health Professions] Dean Michael Miller which made this transition possible.”

The A+ Schools was first used in North Carolina more than two decades ago, according to the program’s website. For a school to be part of the program, at least 85% of itss teachers must approve of the school’s application. Once a school is accepted, its teachers take part in a five-day training institute in the summer and two on-site professional development sessions provided by the program during the school year. Cost to the schools is based on location and size of the school.

Network schools for the 2017-18 school year are Arkansas Arts Academy in Rogers, Arnold Drive Elementary School, Murrell Taylor Elementary and Tolleson Elementary School in Jacksonville, Retta Brown Elementary in El Dorado, Sylvan Hills Elementary in Sherwood and White County Central High School in Judsonia.

Network alumni schools include Arkansas Consolidated High School in Alexander, The Bridgeway Hospital, Boone Park Elementary and Indian Hills Elementary in North Little Rock, Clarendon Elementary School, Cross County Elementary Technology Academy in Cherry Valley, Howard Elementary School in Fort Smith, Hugh Goodwin Academy for the Arts in El Dorado, Joseph R. Booker Arts Magnet Elementary, Landmark Elementary School and Rockefeller Early Childhood Magnet Elementary in Little Rock, KIPP Blytheville College Prep School, KIPP Delta Collegiate High School, KIPP Delta College Preparatory School and KIPP Elementary Literacy Academy in Helena, in addition to White County Central Elementary in Judsonia, according to its website.

“Schools participate because the program works,” Brown said in the release. “We appreciate the great work first initiated by Paul Leopoulos and the Thea Foundation in 2009. We are all excited by the new opportunities created by this move to a new home base for sustaining and growing the A+ Schools model in Arkansas.”