Windsor Hill Receives National Recognition for Outstanding Arts Education

October 27, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC & CHARLESTON, SC – October 26, 3009 – Two South Carolina public schools are national award winners for making arts an essential part of their students’ education during the 2008-09 school year.

Lexington District Two’s Saluda River Academy for the Arts in West Columbia and Windsor Hill Arts Infused Elementary in North Charleston (Dorchester District Two) are among only five in the U.S. recognized as John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts National Schools of Distinction in Arts Education.  The honor goes to outstanding school programs and includes a monetary award to support their arts education efforts.

The schools were nominated by the South Carolina Alliance for Arts Education after receiving state level awards.  Selection criteria at the national level include: 

  • a review of the ways in which arts education is an essential component of the school curriculum; 
  • how the program creates and uses imaginative learning environments for teaching and learning in, through and about the arts; 
  • how the arts program provides opportunities for parental involvement in education; 
  • how the program provides opportunities for learning about other cultures through the arts; and 
  • how the program links arts education to community cultural resources.   

The awards are an initiative of the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network, a coalition of 33 statewide, not-for-profit organizations working with the Kennedy Center. The alliance brings together educators, school administrators, parents, cultural leaders and citizens nationwide to emphasize the importance of the arts in America’s classrooms.

South Carolina has had six national winners since the Kennedy Center awards program began in 1999.  Past honors have gone to Howe Hall AIMS Elementary in Goose Creek and Northside Elementary School of the Arts in Rock Hill, both in 2006-07; Richland Northeast High in Columbia (2004-05); Hand Middle School in Columbia (2003-04); Rollings Middle School of the Arts in Summerville (2002-03); and Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary in Charleston (2001-02).

School arts program profiles

Saluda River Academy for the Arts is a Title I public elementary school, grades K-5, serving locally zoned students from a diverse income and ethnic background.  Saluda River believes the arts provide an excellent avenue for life-long learning for all students.  Because of this philosophy, their program is not talent-based. 

The imbedded arts education program has four major components: direct arts instruction, arts integration, the artist-in-residence program and a strong afterschool arts program.  All students receive standards-based arts instruction weekly in dance, drama, music and visual art taught by certified arts teacher specialists. 

Additionally, students receive integrated arts lessons each week.  Each arts teacher team-teaches with a classroom teacher to present core curricular lessons using the arts.  The third component of the arts plan provides four artists-in-residence each year.  Students have a weeklong, in-depth experience with a professional guest artist.  An extensive afterschool arts program offers students further arts opportunities.  At Saluda River, the arts are the heart of the school. 

Windsor Hill Arts Infused Elementary serves a very diverse population of approximately 870 students in pre-K through fifth grade.  In 2004 Windsor Hill began the process of moving toward an arts infused curriculum which was fully implemented in 2006.  The arts faculty consists of a dance teacher, a theater teacher, an instrumental music teacher, a vocal music teacher, a 2-D visual art teacher and a 3-D visual art teacher.  All six arts teachers are full time and certified in their content area. 

All students at Windsor Hill are taught each arts discipline as stand alone subjects in the art studios.  In addition to stand alone instruction, the arts are infused into each of the other academic areas.  Each of the arts areas for every grade meets in the art studios on a five-day block schedule.  The arts faculty also have scheduled periods each day where they co-teach infused lessons in at least one of the other academic classrooms.  This arts infused, collaborative approach has led to increased student achievement and a vibrant school climate.