USFSM will partner with arts organizations, including the the Circus Arts Conservatory, to present the Creativity & Innovation Summer Camp during the week of July 15.

PAInT Center to hold Creativity & Innovation Summer Camp, Back-to-School Family Reading Day at USF Sarasota-Manatee

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: June 18, 2019

SARASOTA, Fla. (June 18, 2019) – The Florida Center for Partnerships for Arts Integrated Teaching (PAInT) is presenting two special events this summer to engage with students from the local community, including a weeklong arts camp.

The Creativity & Innovation Summer Camp, set for July 15-19 at USF Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM), 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, will unite USFSM faculty with local artists and arts organizations to create a week of fun educational activities for rising seventh graders from Booker Middle School in Sarasota.

Organizers say the leap from sixth to seventh grade can be difficult as the curriculum becomes more rigorous in preparation for high school. The summer camp is designed to ease that transition and focus students on core subjects they’ll see in the fall, including science, mathematics and language arts.

PAInT Center to hold Creativity & Innovation summer camp, Back-to-School Family Reading Day at USF Sarasota-Manatee

Dr. Denise Davis-Cotton

“The PAInT Center Creativity and Innovation Summer Camp will offer structured experiences that support independent learning and connect the Booker students with university faculty and local teaching artists,” PAInT Director Denise Davis-Cotton, EdD, said.

About 20 seventh graders are expected at the event, along with two USFSM students who will assist with camp activities. Each day will present a different activity: “Origami and Math,” “Circus Science,” “Techno-Arts,” “The WILD side of Eco-Arts” and the “Art of Robotics.”

Among the participating artists and arts organizations are the Origami Air Art Studio, the Circus Arts Conservatory, teaching artists Samira Dehghanian and David Skaggs, and Neirda Lafontant, who founded Funducation, which uses fun activities to engage children in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM).

Based at USFSM, PAInT was founded in 2016 by Florida lawmakers to provide pre-service and practicing teachers with high-quality training and professional development to integrate the arts into classroom lessons. Incorporating academic material with the arts can help some students improve their understanding and retention of this material.

Among the participating faculty members, Edie Banner, PhD, said she’s looking forward to partnering with teaching artist Skaggs for their session, “The WILD side of Eco-Arts,” set for Thursday, July 18. Students will explore natural areas on campus and learn the value of observation, journaling, illustration and other arts-based activities.

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Dr. Edie Banner

“The nature walks will inspire the students as they express their experience through the art projects they create and foster their appreciation for the outdoors,” Banner, an organic chemistry instructor at USFSM, said.

Davis-Cotton said she’ll team up with experts from Sarasota’s Circus Arts Conservatory on Tuesday, July 16, to teach the science behind juggling, tightrope walking and other circus acts.

Faculty members Giti Javidi, PhD, Ehsan Sheybani, PhD, and Su Senapati, PhD, are signed up as well.

On Monday, July 15, Senapati will partner with Sarasota’s Origami Air Art Studio to combine paper folding with mathematics and English. Javidi and teaching artist Dehghanian will team up for a session on Wednesday, July 17, to apply math principals to T-shirt painting, and on Friday, July 19, Sheybani and Lafontant will round out the camp with a session called “The Art of Robotics.”

Later this summer, USFSM and the PAInT Center will host a reading day for Manatee County children in grades K-3.

Scheduled for Friday, Aug. 9, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., at the campus, the Back-to-School Family Reading Day is designed to combine literacy with fun, age-appropriate activities. Participants include the Circus Arts Conservatory, Florida Studio Theatre, Origami Air Art Studio and Microsoft. Students will receive a free backpack, lunchbox, crayons, eraser and a book.

“In collaboration with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, the Patterson Foundation, Soar in 4, and the Bradenton Dream Center, the PAInT Center’s Back to School Family Reading Day is an investment in reading exposure and enrichment for K-3 students,” Davis-Cotton said.

Children must be accompanied by a parent. Register by calling United Community Centers Inc., (941) 746-7470.

To learn more about PAInT, visit For more about USF Sarasota-Manatee, visit

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