DOTHAN, Alabama – September 6, 2019 – The Wiregrass Museum of Art (WMA) is pleased to announce that Dothan City Schools (DCS) has awarded WMA a contract in an amount not to exceed $50,000 to fund educational field trips for two area schools during the 2018-19 academic year, as well as professional development for school educators. Students from Hidden Lake Primary School and Beverlye Intermediate School, the two schools in the Dothan City Schools system designated as A+ Arts schools, will make weekly visits to the museum from now through March for gallery tours and instruction in the museum’s studio. The contract will be paid with Title I funds.
The Arts Education Navigator, a resource published by Americans for the Arts, states that exposure to the arts has a positive effect on many facets of all students’ academic experiences. According to the publication, an arts education increases a student’s chances of participating in a math or science fair, having good attendance, and being recognized for academic achievements.
The goal of the field trips and educator resources — both digital and hands-on — is high-quality arts instruction for all students and teachers in the Dothan City Schools system. WMA has a decades-long relationship with local school systems, providing supplemental art instruction through in-school outreach programs. Since many public schools cut arts programs in recent years due to limited funding, the museum provided hands-on art instruction that the schools could not. As Dothan’s public schools reestablish formalized visual arts programs through recent restructuring efforts, WMA will continue to serve as a resource for both students and teachers.
“Dothan City Schools’ collaboration with Wiregrass Museum of Art is a natural fit with our Signature Schools, Hidden Lake Primary and Beverlye Intermediate, whose themes are focused on the arts. We are excited about this great resource for our teachers and the world of enrichment that will be opened up from participation with this local partner,” said Dr. Phyllis Edwards, superintendent of education for Dothan City Schools.
Field trips for Dothan’s A+ Art Schools are an expansion of WMA’s program, Bus on Us, which provides opportunities for all students in the Dothan CIty and Houston County school systems to visit the museum at least once a year. A study published by Education Next in 2014 found that “students who attend a field trip to an art museum experience an increase in critical thinking skills, historical empathy and tolerance. For students from rural or high-poverty regions, the increase was even more significant.”
“While we are able to provide resources directly to our school’s teachers, we are excited to see students at the museum each week. We hope that the experience of visiting the museum and participating in hands-on learning will give students a sense of ownership of WMA,” said Dana-Marie Lemmer, WMA’s director and curator.
The agreement with DCS will also fund professional instruction for teachers at Hidden Lake and Beverlye, as members of the museum’s education department will give workshops at each of the schools during the year. In addition to existing online educator resources — digital lesson plans based on works in the museum’s permanent collection — teachers will have access to a new online platform linked to WMA’s website, wiregrassmuseum.org, on which they will be able to ask questions, share ideas, and interact with museum staff. Museum educators will maintain and update the new teacher “blog” regularly, addressing issues and answering questions submitted directly from teachers. The new online feature is set to launch on October 1.
“With limited access to the visual arts in years past, the museum and other local arts groups have worked to fill the gap. This partnership allows us to complement the work being done in the schools by offering unique and specialized services for students and teachers. By working together, we can better respond to specific and evolving needs that will contribute to a more well-rounded education for our students,” said Lemmer.
Additional opportunities for students:
WMA provides opportunities for all students in the Dothan CIty and Houston County school systems to visit the museum at least once a year through the Bus on Us program. The program, which is supported by grants from the Wells Fargo Foundation and the Southeast Alabama Community Foundation, provides reimbursement for the transportation costs for eight school busloads of Pre-K-12 students from every school in both of the systems.
Each Bus on Us field trip has options to include a tour of the museum’s galleries and a hands-on art experience in the studio. Teachers can choose from mediums like clay, printmaking, collage, and encaustic painting. Cross-curricular lessons are also available with pre-arrangement.
For additional information and to schedule a Bus on Us tour, visit WMA’s website.
Additional opportunities for educators:
Later this academic year, WMA’s education department will also host a general arts education workshop for all teachers in the Dothan City Schools system. The workshop will focus on ways teachers can incorporate the arts into lessons across curriculums. Currently, WMA’s website hosts 12 online lesson plans that use pieces from the museum’s permanent collection to demonstrate ways teachers can introduce art learning standards required by the Alabama State Board of Education.
The online resources include lesson plans for art, social studies, English, science, and technology, and are free and available to any teacher in the state. Additional lesson plans will be added throughout the school year.
Volunteering with WMA’s education team:
WMA is in need of volunteers and docents to lead student visitors on tours through WMA’s galleries. Docents are a vital part of the Wiregrass Museum of Art’s mission to educate and inspire audiences through the visual arts and its interpretation. They are specially trained volunteers who guide museum tours for school groups and other visitors. They facilitate learning about the artwork on display at the museum and helping guests make connections to it through observation and discussion.
No art or teaching experience is needed, and training sessions are held quarterly.
To apply to become a docent at WMA, complete the online application on WMA’s website or download a copy and submit the completed application to 126 Museum Avenue, Dothan, AL, 36303. For additional information, contact WMA’s volunteer and docent coordinator, Brook McGinnis, at email@example.com or 334.794.3871.
About the Wiregrass Museum of Art
The Wiregrass Museum of Art inspires a lifelong appreciation for the visual arts by providing innovative educational programs that engage diverse audiences through the collection and exhibition of quality works. Since its founding in 1988, WMA has offered educational programs, nationally-acclaimed art exhibitions and community events throughout the year. Its Board of Trustees guides the long-term vision and strategic goals, while its membership, City and County support, and grant funding provide the resources needed to fulfill its mission.
WMA’s galleries are open to the public every Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. General admission is always free. Private tours with guided art activities in the studio can be arranged by appointment on Mondays and Tuesdays. For tour information, visit wiregrassmuseum.org/museum-tours.
About Dothan City Schools
Dothan City Schools works to prepare all students for the choices and challenges of the 21st century. The school system’s goal is to prepare all students to participate productively and responsibly in a rapidly changing society. Located in Southeast Alabama, Dothan City Schools serves approximately 9,300 students. The system consists of one Head Start Center, one Early Childhood Center (Pre-K), ten Signature Schools that are comprised of two primary schools (Grades K-2), two intermediate schools (Grades 3-6), and six elementary schools (Grades K-6). The system is also the home of one magnet school for mathematics, science, and technology for grades three through six, one junior high school (Grades 7-9), one high school (Grades 10-12), one technology center (Grades 10-12), one alternative school (Grades 2-12), and one accelerated recovery center (Ages 16 and above). The system employs over 1,000 proud and dedicated DCS employees.