The Williamsport Area School District has been recognized as a 2020 Outstanding Visual Arts Community from the Pennsylvania Art Education Association for its commitment to visual arts education.
This is the second consecutive year the district has received the designation, according to a news release.
Districts that receive the endorsement demonstrate the importance of their visual arts programs by meeting the following criteria:
• Rigorous and inclusive programs: Arts programs demonstrate rigor using standards-based curriculum taught at every level by highly qualified and certified arts educators.
• Highly accessible programs: Art programs are offered to all students at every level of education with a sustainable budget for the visual arts.
• Highly visible programs: Schools and districts identify their programmatic accomplishments, curriculum for all levels, art staff, mission statements, and arts events using their school websites and social media.
“The WASD K-12 art team is honored to receive the PAEA Outstanding Visual Art Community distinction once again in 2020,” said Dr. Andrea McDonough Varner, the district’s K-12 art department coordinator, according to the news release. “We are a district that values the connections that we can make with our students each day, whether virtually or in person. Our team has demonstrated extreme flexibility over the past few months and will continue to create a culture in our community that nurtures the creativity, self-expression, technical skill and wellbeing of every single Millionaire artist.”
Schools providing these opportunities equip students with visual literacy, according to PAEA.
Visual literacy constitutes the new thinking and learning skills of a digital age and a creative economy. These are the types of cognitive skills young people will need to find their place in a globally competitive workforce.
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that the arts and culture sector is a $699 billion industry, which represents 4.3 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product — a larger share of the economy than transportation and agriculture. The news release said the nonprofit arts industry alone generates $135 billion in economic activity annually (spending by organizations and their audiences) that supports 4.1 million jobs and generates $22.3 billion in government revenue, according to Americans for the Arts.
Technology innovations such as big data, data analytics, and visualization will simply increase the importance of visual and spatial learning skills.
“WASD’s designation as a top visual arts community is a testament to the purposeful and deliberate work our K-12 art teachers place into their preparation and instruction,” said Dr. Chad Greevy, supervisor of secondary curriculum/K-12 unified arts. “At WASD, we are proud to offer vast learning opportunities led by our expert instructors for all of our students.”
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