Elevating arts education in Tahoe/Truckee schools

Raine Howe
Special to the Sun
Courtesy photos Truckee Elementary students Joanna, from Ms. Fansler's third-grade class, and Simone, from Ms. Anderson's third-grade class recently created depictions of Ebenezer Scrooge (Joanna's is here, Simone's is below) under the direction of professional artist Anke Hass with the Arts For the Schools Artist in Residence program.

TAHOE/TRUCKEE – Many local parents with young children may be aware of American Girl Dolls, which have been a big hit over the past few years. Perhaps you were one of those parents clamoring to get one of these toys for your student over the holidays. No matter whether you have had a close encounter with these dolls or not – there is an incredible opportunity to receive grant funds for our local elementary schools, thanks to a new partnership.

Americans for the Arts is teaming up with American Girl to help promote the arts in U.S. schools through the Elevate the Arts School Grant Contest and Saige Learning Guide. This partnership dovetails with American Girl’s introduction of its 2013 Girl of the Year, Saige Copeland.

Elementary schools throughout the United States with students in grades 3-6 can submit entries to support their art program through the Elevate the Arts School Grant Contest. Each entry must contain two components: a digital image of artwork and a written essay. Entries should be submitted before May 31, 2013. They will be evaluated on originality, creativity and how effectively it demonstrates the school’s enthusiasm for art and its positive effect on its students.

Grants will be awarded to 13 schools. The first-place winning school will receive $10,000; schools placing second and third will win a $5,000 each; and 10 runner-up schools will each receive $2,500. Grant recipients will be announced in October 2013 to coincide with National Arts and Humanities Month.

The Saige Learning Guide is a free, downloadable arts-based curriculum designed for teachers to inspire their students to explore their creative side. It outlines seven specific activities teachers can use to infuse the arts into their classroom and inspire their students to explore the arts, share their artistic passions and promote the arts in their schools and communities.

To complement this resource, Americans for the Arts is offering additional tools that parents can use to ignite their child’s creative spirit and imagination and to ensure their school districts and education leaders are committed to the arts. These supplementary tools can be found on Americans for the Arts’ website at

Further details regarding the Elevate the Arts School Grant Program, including specific contest rules and regulations, and the Saige Learning Guide can be found at

The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District has a head start in applying thanks to Measure A funding the Artist in Residence Program which was developed by Arts For the Schools and is currently administered by AFtS. Schools in Incline Village have a head start in applying thanks to their very successful “Meet the Masters” program.

The images for this article were part of AFtS Artist in Residence program. Last month students looked at a piece of literature, “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens, which tells the story of a transformational experience of Ebenezer Scrooge between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in 1843. This was an excellent story to tell in December and a great subject for students to paint the two Ebenezer experiences. In the first one he is scared and on his knees on the living room floor as he faces the ghost of his former business partner, Marley. The second one is of Ebenezer on Christmas Day when he joyfully runs through town wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. Students drew the figures step by step together and then the children embellished their paintings to their own liking and imagination.

– Raine Howe is executive director for Arts For the Schools.

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