USFSM Regional Chancellor Karen A. Holbrook, holding the 2019-2020 Arts and Culture Guide, talks about the importance of the arts to Southwest Florida.

USF Sarasota-Manatee Regional Chancellor Karen Holbrook honored at reception

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: October 10, 2019

SARASOTA, Fla. (Oct. 10, 2019)University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Regional Chancellor Karen A. Holbrook, PhD, was honored at a special reception Monday evening by the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, the Manatee Education Foundation and the Manatee Arts Education Council for being named the national recipient of the Arts Schools Network (ASN) Higher Education Award.

The ASN Higher Education Award recognizes higher education partnerships that support quality arts education in K-12 schools and will be presented at ASN’s annual conference, Oct. 22-25, in Jacksonville.

“I am really honored and humbled by this recognition, and I am thrilled to see so many of you who I admire and respect from the arts and education community,” Holbrook told attendees at the campus’ FCCI Rotunda.  “The arts are embedded in so much of what we do, the range is incredible in our area; there is something for everybody.”

“I leafed through the Arts and Culture Guide to discover more about what I generally knew,” Holbrook continued. “I learned that there are nearly 400 different kinds of performances that range from concerts to operas to jazz to Cuban ballet across Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice, Northport, Anna Marie Island, Englewood and Osprey. Add to that more than 20 museums and visual arts opportunities, 147 festivals and fairs and more than 30 history, science and educational organizations and foundations, and you can see that our residents and visitors could spend every day engaged in some arts-related activity.”

Holbrook said that USFSM plays a direct role supporting the arts as the home campus for the statewide Florida Center for Partnerships for Arts Integrated Teaching (PAInT), which is based at USFSM and managed by Denis Davis-Cotton, PhD.

    Denise Davis-Cotton, PhD

PAInT sponsors and delivers a wide variety of creative programming that supports arts-integrated education, ranging from professional development for teachers around the state to summer camps for children that combine the arts with science lessons to programs that combat racism. PAInT partnered with many organizations this past year to deliver unique programs, one of which was designed for individuals on the autism spectrum (see summary of PAInT programs below).

“This award is really a tribute to Denise and the work that she does through PAInT to consistently deliver arts-integrated programming to children in K-12 classrooms and our community in creative ways. One of the most important things the program does is help educators and community members learn how to include this type of learning into what they do on a daily basis,” Holbrook said.

Davis-Cotton told those gathered how much she appreciated Holbrook’s support.

“She is a wonderful woman who has given us the freedom to express our individual energy and be creative with our programs,” Davis-Cotton said. “She has done this for PAInT unselfishly and has given so much of herself to local organizations to build partnerships and collaborations. She gets arts education.”

Holbrook also noted that USFSM will serve as host to the Perlman Music Program’s Winter Residency Program for the 12th consecutive year — from late December to early January — as talented young musicians from around the world convene in Sarasota-Manatee for instruction from internationally renowned violinist and conductor, Itzhak Perlman.

As a young person, Holbrook said she spent considerable time in the woods of Wisconsin sketching wild flowers. Once she began her academic career as a biomedical scientist, she was even more attracted to art as she spent many hours peering through an electron microscope, discovering the beauty and symmetry of cell structures.

“I incorporated many drawings and diagrams to present my research and used art to help students understand relationships, concepts, coordinate ideas or to simplify a lecture such as the one I will give in Georgia later this month on artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT (Internet of Things) and block chain in public health. As a biomedical scientist for many years, I had a great career in STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), but really it was STEAM education because the ‘Arts’ was always included in how I approached science.”

Jim Shirley, executive director of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County and master of ceremonies closed by saying, “We live in one of the most special places in the world. Part of the reason it’s so special is due to the colleges and people who support K-12 arts education.  Karen is one of those individuals who goes above and beyond to promote things that are important to the community.”

For more information about USF Sarasota-Manatee, visit

Florida Center for Partnerships for Arts-Integrated Teaching (PAInT) Initiatives:

  • PAInT Across Florida – A collaboration with the Florida Alliance for Arts Education to offer professional development to school districts. This program presented advanced arts-integration training to educators in Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Lee, Leon, Manatee and Sarasota counties.
  • Careers in the Arts – A partnership with the Florida Alliance for Arts Education that resulted in a free workshop for middle and high school students interested in pursuing careers in creative fields.
  • The PAInT Circus Science Program – A program focused on arts-integrated instruction involving members of the Sarasota-based Circus Arts Conservatory. Following Florida standards for force and motion, the program introduced fun learning activities – promoting collaboration, critical thinking and knowledge retention – to a STEAM-based curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics).
  • The Business of Creativity – A six-part workshop series on business and technology. Sponsored by the Andrew Mellon Foundation and New College of Florida, faculty from the Cross College Alliance identified strategies to integrate technology and creative learning with classroom instruction to engage students. The sessions enabled participants to share classroom experiences, develop new skills, expand pedagogy and diversify their teaching and learning formats.
  • PAInT CreatED by Crayola – A workshop for Manatee County supervisors and coaches to explore parallels between written and visual literacy, such as the intersection between arts and language arts. Participants used art elements and design principles to decode illustrations and learn how symbols convey meaning.
  • Arts Literacy Program – A program for early learning teachers focused on grade-level reading in Manatee and Sarasota counties. The program introduced the teachers to arts-integrated instruction to help prepare children for lifelong success through quality early-learning instruction. PAInT and Embracing our Differences collaborated on this program.
  • PAInT Arts Integration Miami – A partnership with ARTZ OUT LOUD and the South Florida Symphony Orchestra, this program helped Miami-Dade students understand the science of music, sound and language arts. Students studied the compositions of Sergei Prokofiev, including “Peter and the Wolf,” to note the pitch and timbres of musical instruments, as well as the messages conveyed in music.
  • Historically-Speaking and Write-a-Play – A partnership with Florida Studio Theatre, this program for teachers and students wove together lessons in theater, literacy, history and creative writing.
  • PAInTing Pictures of Autism – An outgrowth of Autism Awareness Month, this unique event brought together students and adults from Sarasota and Manatee counties who are on the autism spectrum. The workshop featured artwork, live performances and discussions that focused on awareness, acceptance and misconceptions about autism. Partnering with PAInT were the USF Office of Multi-Cultural Affairs, USF Sarasota-Manatee Office of Disabilities, Easter Seals, The Haven and Embracing Our Differences.
  • America’s Songs I and II – A partnership of PAInT and the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, this community event featured a talk by music historian Michael Lasser. His presentation, “Illuminating History: The American Popular Song,” integrated art with history to examine music that emerged during important moments in American history.
  • The [M]others – A preview stage reading of the documentary play, “The [M]others,” by Nikki Yeboah, PhD. Hosted by PAInT, the USF Office of Multicultural Affairs and New College of Florida, this stirring community event explored the stories of four women whose sons were killed by police in California. The documentary weaves together interviews, exploring the traumatic effect of these events, while introducing audiences to the four victims: a young man with dreams of playing professional football, a new father just getting to know his son, a former addict on the brink of turning his life around and a teen killed the day before his seventeenth birthday. Yeboah is an assistant professor of communication studies at San Jose State University.
  • PAInT Creativity and Innovation Summer Camp – PAInT united USFSM faculty with local artists and arts organizations to create a week of fun educational activities. The PAInt Summer Program used the power of the arts and science. The camp created a transition and focused the students on core subjects they’ll see in the fall, including science, mathematics and language arts (STEAM) to inspire for a meaningful academic learning experience for students from Booker Middle School in Sarasota County and Rowlett Middle School in Manatee County. The Camp afforded opportunities for students to develop creative problem-solving skills and build further knowledge across arts and non-arts curricula. Each day presented a different activity: “Origami and Math,” “Circus Science,” “Techno-Arts,” “The WILD side of Eco-Arts” and the “Art of Robotics.
  • PAInT Family Reading Day – PAInT family reading day event for children and parents from the New College Early Learning Center for preschool children. The event was held in the Selby Auditorium of the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, which included arts-integrated literacy activities by the Circus Arts Conservatory, Florida Studio Theatre, Origami Air Art Studio Project WILD. The families received books and programs about reading programs from the Early Learning Reading Coalition, Soar in Four of Manatee County Public Schools, Grade Level Reading, and the Patterson Foundation.
  • PAInT and USFSM Go WILD! – The Florida Center for Partnerships for Arts-Integrated Teaching (PAInT) at USF Sarasota-Manatee hosted a Project WILD/Aquatic Workshop for K-12 Florida educators. The workshop was facilitated by Dr. Edie Banner and Dr. Denise Davis-Cotton, which was based on arts integration principles. The workshop engaged educators in hands-on, teacher-friendly wildlife-based conservation and environmental instructional activities. Teachers focused on Florida’s wildlife and habitat. Upon completion of the workshop, teachers received the WILD/Aquatic curriculum and activity guides that contain innovative and interdisciplinary ready-to-use classroom and outdoor activities.

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