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Enumclaw schools benefit from award

4Culture’s Arts Education Funding Program recently announced a $30,000 award to ArtsEd Washington. The support builds on a four-year partnership with the nonprofit organization for its award-winning Principals’ Arts Leadership program (PAL). This program helps principal-led elementary school teams create annual ongoing plans for arts education.

According to ArtsEd Washington Executive Director Una McAlinden, the Enumclaw School District ventured into the program a couple of years ago with Southwood Elementary School Principal Susan Arbury, who was looking for funding to sustain an art program’s momentum at her school. McAlinden said the group’s primary goal is to have a school create and implement a School Arts Plan, but its secondary goal is to create a network of principals who connect and support each other’s leadership in the arts. More specifically, the group tries to recruit new schools and principals. Arbury brought in Westwood Elementary School Principal Kerry Marquand.

This year, Enumclaw’s three remaining elementary school principals have signed up, making Enumclaw the second entire district to become a model.

“Of course, the Enumclaw community and Arts Commission has always been supportive of arts in education, but the specific engagement of the principals in intentional planning makes a huge impact on the sustainability of the work,” McAlinden said.

ArtsEd Washington is positioned to provide the regional leadership training to support the Essential Academic Learning Requirements in the arts put in place by the state’s Office of Public Instruction in 1993. As schools implement their arts plans, regionwide efforts are being catalyzed to create programs that integrate the arts throughout all areas of the school curricula and support the principals as instructional leaders in the arts.

Principals participating in the PAL program confirm that the integration of art is already making significant impacts on their schools – from elevated reading and math scores to better attendance records.

“Throughout its four-year development, this program has been incredibly responsive to the needs of the principals themselves,” said Charlie Rathbun, arts program manager with 4Culture. “It has been designed for, by, and about them. With new state-wide graduation requirements in the arts for all K-12 students on the horizon, the timing could not be better.”

Enumclaw’s three schools were among 20 King County schools representing six county districts that participate in this program along with 18 more schools from Pierce and Kitsap counties. The $30,000 4Culture award will allow ArtsEd Washington to continue to broaden the participation of King County schools in the PAL program and strengthen the potential for greater sustainability of arts education in the future.

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