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Sunday, June 30, 2013

LAA+ Summer Institute Recap

Wow! Our first annual Louisiana A+ Schools Summer Institute could not have gone better!

It was the first professional development training for teachers of its size, structure and duration ever in Louisiana!

Twenty-five (25) facilitators from Oklahoma A+ joined fifteen (15) facilitators from Louisiana to train nearly 100% of 7 school faculties (200+ teachers) for an entire week on arts-integration, A+ methods and our Eight Essentials in order to impact over 3,000 Louisiana students!

Member schools are every type (urban, rural, suburban, pre K - 12, public, private, charter) and are in Shreveport, Monroe, New Iberia, Baton Rouge, Reserve and New Orleans.

The institute was held in partnership with LSU on LSU's campus during the week of June 24th.

Participants live tweeted to @AplusLA using the hashtag #AplusLA and their photos are displayed throughout this blog entry. 

At the end of every day, we asked participants to share with us their reactions to that day's training.  Overwhelmingly, nearly all teachers and principals gave us positive reactions!  We of course don't have room here to display them all.  However, here are some of our favorites:

I think….this has been the best workshop I have attended in 17 years! (11th Chemistry II AP teacher)

I discovered today that….common core, core knowledge, and Louisiana A+ 8 Essentials really work perfectly together. (Kindergarten teacher)

If I could change one thing I would….change the amount of time at this workshop.  Would love to have more time with you. (1st grade teacher)

If I could change one thing I would….not change a thing about today.  It was beautiful. (Principal)

I understand better how….LAA+ evolved and why it is so important to integrate art across the curriculum. (Art teacher)

I understand better how….to set up my students to succeed in the most creative ways while building their self esteem. (Kindergarten teacher)

I rediscovered….the joy of teaching and seeing the learning process in action. (5th grade teacher)

I feel….much better about the A+ school model because it is not just another thing I have to incorporate in my class but rather an important piece of a puzzle that was missing. (Kindergarten teacher)

I will be able to use….everything I’ve learned. (6th grade English language arts teacher)

I was surprised that….there are so many ideas I could actually put into a math class. (7th grade math teacher)

I am proud of the way….I am able to visualize how to integrate both art and music with my English classes. (11th grade English teacher)

It would be helpful if….I knew all of this when I was first started teaching 25 years ago. (Kindergarten teacher)

I discovered today that….art education is an excellent mechanism for helping students move past their perceived limitations to explore new possibilities.  (Principal)

I was surprised that….the process of creating and sharing art is the same as the Scientific Method and sharing results. (5th grade science teacher)

I discovered today that….there is no longer a reason to say,  “It is time for math.  Now it is time for spelling.”  EVERYTHING needs to be taught together – integration throughout the curriculum. (1st grade teacher)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

GRFA Hosts Louisiana A+ School's First Annual Five-Day Summer Institute

Over 200 teachers from seven Louisiana schools learn arts-integration teaching method


(Pictures throughout, photos from the first two days of our training by our participants using the @AplusLA Twitter hashtag "#aplusla")

The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts (GRFA) is excited to host the first annual Louisiana A+ Schools (LAA+) Summer Institute for the 2013/2014 school year. Under the direction of Oklahoma A+ Schools, LAA+ will give the first seven LAA+ Schools accepted into the network staff professional development in arts-integration June 24-28 in Baton Rouge at the LSU School of Music & Dramatic Arts. 

“I am so excited to see that these schools in Louisiana are willing to embrace the arts as a vehicle for transformation,” says Bethany France, Director of LAA+ Schools, “because Louisiana is so well known for arts and culture.”

Started in North Carolina in 1995, A + Schools is a research-based whole school network with a mission of nurturing creativity in every learner through an arts-integrated school network.  The network provides teachers with the essentials to think more creatively about how students can apply learning to the real world, and how they can present curricula to students in ways they learn best. 

Arts integration is achieved through continuous practitioner-led professional development, statewide support networks for teachers and administrators, and partnerships with parents, community resources, media and universities.  LAA+ is available to any Louisiana school (public, private charter, birth through 12) through an application process.  LAA+ will add 5-10 schools every year.  

WHO:  20 facilitators from Louisiana A+ Schools (LAA+), 35 facilitators from Oklahoma A+ Schools (OKA+) and over 200 teachers representing the following seven schools from across Louisiana:

1.  South Highlands Elementary Magnet, Shreveport, Public, Pre-K - 8
2.  Grace Episcopal School, Monroe, Private, Pre-K - 8
3.  Epiphany Day School, New Iberia, Private, PreK3 - 5
4.  The Dufrocq School, Baton Rouge, Public, PreK3 - 5
5.  Riverside Academy, Reserve, Private, PreK3 - 12
6.  Homer A. Plessy Community School, New Orleans, Charter, K - 2
7.  Martin Behrman Academy of Creative Arts and Sciences, New Orleans, Charter – Pre-K – 8

WHY: Extensive university research in A+ Schools reveals dramatic improvements including: 

o Elevated student achievement
o Better student and teacher attendance
o Decreased discipline problems
o Stronger parental and community involvement 
o A more creative and enjoyable educational environment

"We believe LAA+, the first whole-school, arts-integrated reform initiative of its kind for our state, has the potential to influence the way that all Louisiana students are taught." says Jacques Rodrigue, Executive Director of GRFA.

“I have seen what the arts have done to transform the seventy schools in our Oklahoma network,” says Jean Hendrickson, Director of OKA+ Schools, “and I am so excited to be here in Louisiana to share our success with the members of LAA+”

In addition to North Carolina, A + Schools has been successfully implemented in Oklahoma and Arkansas and currently has over 120 schools in the National A+ Schools Consortium Network. The program’s success in other states has prompted GRFA to team up with Oklahoma A+ Schools to bring A+ methods to Louisiana.  

For more information visit www.aplusla.org or contact the LAA+ Baton Rouge office located in the Shaw Center for the Arts at 225-388-5521 or bethany@georgerodriguefoundation.org. 

Louisiana A+ Schools is a program of the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts.  

GRFA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization advocating the importance of the arts in the development of our youth through a variety of art educational programs.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Raffle Winner Announced!

Congrats to Bonnie J. for winning our raffle of the special "You Can't Drown the Blues" signed by George Rodrigue, Irvin Mayfield and other musicians of New Orleans Jazz Masters concert.

What a great night and thank you to everyone that entered!  All money raised will go to great use as we and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra work to bring arts and music programs to our youth.

Monday, June 17, 2013

NEW VIDEO: What can whole school arts-integration mean for Louisiana?

Watch our short video on to learn more about what Louisiana A+ Schools and the arts can do to nurture creativity and prepare our students to succeed in 21st century Louisiana.

At Culture Connections Day in Baton Rouge, LA, on April 23, 2013, LAA+ Schools, in partnership with Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne, announced the seven schools joining the LAA+ Network.

These schools have committed to whole school reform through arts integration. We could not be happier with our first set of members! Hear from experts in education from across the state about why this announcement is so important.

LAA+ is a program of the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"How's the Weather?" Summer Art Camp on ABC-WGNO New Orleans

Thank you to WGNO meteorologist Hank Allen for teaching our summer art camp participants (ages 5-6) all about the weather!