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Tobin Center partnership provides unique opportunities in Fine Arts
As part of its expanded access to fine arts, SAISD is partnering with The Tobin Center for Performing Arts to integrate art into classrooms. 

“The Tobin Center’s Art Integration initiative is a great way for us to explore how to incorporate the art aspect of STEAM into our classrooms,” said Sonya Cardenas, principal at Carvajal Elementary School, which opened this fall with expanded grades and a focus on science, technology, engineering, art and math.

Through the Tobin Center’s Arts Integration initiative, all teachers at Carvajal Elementary School, M.L. King Academy and Tafolla Middle School will receive a half-day of development once a month, starting in September and ending in May. Courses like Shadow Math: Exploring Mathematics through Shadow Puppetry and Cutting Paper: A Pathway to Creative Writing and will be taught by artists from around the country.

The professional development will connect an art form with a core subject area, which leads to parallel learning in both.

“Arts Integration is beneficial to students for many reasons,” said Dr. Kimberly Stephenson, director of education for The Tobin Center. “The cyclical nature of Arts Integration (learning, engaging, discussing, revising) leads to deep understanding through the many forms of engagement students have with the concept. The learning is constructed and demonstrated by the student. It is active and participatory and fun.”

According to Americans for the Arts, a student involved in the arts is four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement. Last school year, 79 percent of SAISD students participated in arts education, up four percent from the previous year. 

“Studying the arts is a worthwhile pursuit in and of itself,” said Daniel Loudenback, executive director for Fine Arts at SAISD. “Our own District data shows that students who participate in the arts score higher in standardized tests, pass more of their classes, have better attendance, and receive fewer disciplinary referrals. Fine Arts integration goes a step further using tools taken from the fine arts classroom and uses them to teach core content.”

In addition to the Arts Integration initiative, 20 SAISD academy campuses will benefit from the new Tobin Center Teaching Artists program. Tobin Center Teaching Artists will provide arts-based education in the classroom as part-time employees and will conduct school rehearsals and an end-of-year performance on each participating campus. 

“As we began our plans to ensure that each of our academy campuses has the best arts educators, it was only natural that we turned to The Tobin Center,” said Loudenbeck. “Their connection to the artist community is far-reaching, and their reputation for excellence is proven.”

The Tobin Center is also providing experiences for children to get out of the classroom and view live performances at the venue, located in the heart of downtown San Antonio. Each and every SAISD student in grades two through five will have the chance to see a live performance this school year thanks to The Tobin Center’s Generation NEXT Education Initiative. 

“GenNEXT removes barriers to arts participation by providing a diverse range of cultural, educational, and artistic experiences to our community, including SAISD students,” said Stephenson. “These enriching field trip experiences matter, especially for students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to see these programs. Schools impact students’ lives in more ways than grades and scores. The Tobin Center is happy to be a part of this impact.”

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