USFSM student Crystal Zinn, now an alumna, instructs children at Myakka City Elementary School in 2013.

USFSM teaching program expands as statewide center

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: July 20, 2016

SARASOTA, Fla. (July 20, 2016) USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Center for the Partnership for Arts-Integrated Teaching (PAInT) is taking the next step in its evolution: it’s now the state’s official resource for arts-integrated instruction.

With approvals by Florida lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott this past spring, the center has adopted an expanded mission as the official statewide resource for arts-integrated instruction.

Along with that role, the center is looking to partner with colleges and other institutions that want to learn more about arts-integrated teaching or implement their own training programs.

Through memoranda of understanding signed in 2013, the center already partners with the State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota and the Ringling College of Art & Design. Now it will look to partner with educational institutions across Florida.

Effective July 1, the center’s new name is The Florida Center for the Partnership for Arts-Integrated Teaching at USF Sarasota-Manatee.

“Arts-integrated teaching is a successful model that helps our teachers to educate the next generation,” said Dr. Judy Genshaft, President of the USF System. “We are so fortunate that USF Sarasota-Manatee and the USF System have been chosen to lead this cause statewide.”

Arts-integrated instruction is a teaching method in which the arts are woven into academic lessons to help students understand and retain the academic material. Studies show that students’ comprehension significantly improves when classroom lessons are combined with the arts.

USF Sarasota-Manatee, a pioneer in arts-integrated instruction, launched the Center for Partnership for Arts-Integrated Teaching in 2012 after Dr. Terry Osborn, then dean of the College of Education, advanced the instructional method in 2011.

“This new recognition is a huge step for this program and for USF Sarasota-Manatee,” said Dr. Osborn, now the regional vice chancellor for academic and student affairs at USFSM. “Five years ago, we became a separately accredited campus within the USF System and now we are launching a statewide center for this specialized form of instruction. That is a significant step.”

The Sarasota-Manatee area, with its arts-rich culture, proved to be an ideal location to start the program. Based at USFSM’s campus at 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, the center now partners with several cultural organizations, including the Sarasota Opera, Sarasota Ballet, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Venice Symphony, South Florida Museum and the Circus Arts Conservatory.

Over the past few years, as the center’s partnerships grew and arts-integrated programs spread across USFSM’s service area, supporters suggested replicating the effort on a statewide level. Discussions with local legislators began and in this past legislative session, language was added to the state budget to create the new Florida Center for the Partnership for Arts-Integrated Teaching.

The center will continue its existing partnerships and offer instruction to teachers within its host communities of Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties. However, its mission will now expand to schools and districts across Florida, and not only to public schools but also to charter and private schools as well.

Additionally, students enrolled in USFSM’s School of Education will continue to learn about arts-integrated instruction, along with other forms of teaching, as they work toward their degrees.

“We are so pleased to bring our Center for Partnerships for Arts Integrated Teaching to the entire state of Florida,” Regional Chancellor Dr. Sandra Stone said. “Our location in the arts-rich Sarasota-Manatee community makes USFSM the ideal place to share arts-integrated teaching methods with educators across the state.”

On a general level, the center’s purpose will be to increase knowledge and research of arts-integrated instruction, provide analysis of arts-integrated programs statewide and to partner with arts and educational organizations to introduce arts-integrated programs to more Florida schools.

In a related development, the Legislature allocated $350,000 to launch arts-integrated programs at the South Florida Museum ($100,000) and The Circus Arts Conservatory ($250,000).

That funding is in addition to the tens of thousands of dollars provided over the years to arts-integrated programs, including a $100,000 state allocation to the center in the 2014-15 academic year and a $1.2 million federal grant to the Sarasota School District to bring arts-integration to four Title I elementary schools.

Currently, a nationwide search is underway for an executive director to lead the center. Once that person is selected and brought on board, more partnerships will be announced and a platform of new training programs will be introduced to support teachers statewide.

For now, the center aims to launch an online instructional program for teachers this fall with support from the Circus Arts Conservatory.

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