In August 2016, TD Bank pledged $200,000 to establish the TD Center for Arts Integration in support of SmartARTS at MAC’s facility at 16 Augusta Street. This incredible level of support is a testament to the program’s continued viability and effectiveness. It continues a tradition of the phenomenal support that TD Bank has continuously provided throughout the Greenville arts community since its local founding in 1986.
This funding has allowed SmartARTS to train and mentor teachers who have implemented arts-integrated units throughout Greenville County, as well as expand the program to new schools. The funds also purchase all supplies and compensate the SmartARTS teaching artists working in the program. We are very appreciative of all TD Bank does for MAC, for the arts and for the entire Greenville community. We look forward to working with TD Bank in the future to take SmartARTS to even greater heights.
What is SmartARTS?
SmartARTS is a partnership between Greenville County Schools (GCS) and the Metropolitan Arts Council (MAC) that connects students, artists and teachers to deeper learning and self-awareness through integrating the arts with all areas of education. Arts integration is the collaboration between the arts and other content areas resulting in a richer, more complete whole that fosters deep, connected, personal learning in both areas simultaneously.
SmartARTS provides training and support for teachers and artists in the use of successful, standards-based arts integration methods. The program centers on the collaboration between teacher and artist and is focused on becoming a model and resource for this innovative work that has brought academic and behavioral success for many students. Teachers who participate in the SmartARTS program learn to incorporate the innovative techniques into their teaching repertoire for use even after the classroom work with their artist is complete. SmartARTS also aids in teacher retention, as it helps teachers reconnect and reenergize, while gaining skills to meet the needs of an increasingly challenging and diverse student population. SmartARTS collaborates with several area organizations and offers its program to teachers at all grade levels in GCS.
SmartARTS arts integration at its core is about teachers partnering with teaching artists in training, planning and implementing units of study in the classroom. The units are inquiry-based and standards-driven. They find deep, meaningful connections between the art form and the curriculum. This mode of teaching helps students personalize the learning in a memorable way.
Each summer the Greenville County Arts Integration Training Institute (GCAITI), held at the Fine Arts Center on the campus of Wade Hampton High School, serves as the introduction to and foundation for SmartARTS arts integration. SmartARTS provides three training tracks; beginning teachers attend the full four-day institute, second-year participants attend a three-day advanced track, and teachers in their third through fifth years with the program come for a one-day, in-depth training and planning session. During the institutes teachers are paired with their teaching artist and plan the actual unit they will team-teach during the upcoming school year. Participants also take immersion sessions in each of the five art forms – dance, theater, visual art, creative writing and music.
SmartARTS began in 2002 with three, five-year federal grants from the U.S. Department of Education totaling $2.1 million. The program focused on integrating the arts into all grade levels at one Title I middle school and one Title I elementary school. One of the grants focused on the annual training of teachers and artists to partner in the classroom using arts integration techniques. The goals of this partnering are to better engage students and improve academic achievement in the core curricular areas of English/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. As a result of these three grants, SmartARTS was able to build a solid foundation for its innovative work.
Prior to federal funds expiring in 2007, the leadership of the Metropolitan Arts Council decided to continue the program because of its phenomenal success. Through the diligent work of MAC and the generosity of businesses, foundations and individuals, SmartARTS has thrived and spread throughout well over half of the public schools in Greenville County. The partnership with GCS that began 14 years ago remains very strong as SmartARTS works to spread arts integration to new schools each year.
Since 2008, SmartARTS has solidified its roster of teaching artists. Artists from a diverse array of artistic disciplines are working professionals as well as master teaching artists. Our roster includes an award-winning performance poet, a muralist, a printmaker, a television actor/musician, professional dancers and more. One of the keys to the success of SmartARTS has been in finding and retaining quality local teaching artists.
SmartARTS and You
SmartARTS continually seeks funding because there are always new teachers entering the district and students to inspire. Each year SmartARTS receives requests from new teachers and schools to attend training and to implement this effective methodology. As funding for the arts in public schools continues to dwindle, it is imperative that SmartARTS continues to enhance academic achievement, while introducing underserved students to artistic expression. Excellent arts integration programming is dependent upon support from the Greenville community.
SmartARTS is a long-term investment; it is a break-the-cycle investment. Experiencing the arts in curriculum is powerful, especially for underserved students and is an important key to their educational success. SmartARTS believes that all students need a place in education where they can succeed and where the learning is personal and memorable. SmartARTS achieves these goals.