Imagine! is an arts education initiative created by ArtsBuild in 2010 which provides a systematic introduction to the arts for Hamilton County elementary school students through performances and exhibits presented by several local arts organizations. These arts experiences are designed to enhance learning in the classroom. Teachers have access to educational support materials and curriculum that has been designed according to state education standards and is focused on teaching students about the creative process. Countless studies have shown that arts instruction, as well as integrating the arts into all subjects, strengthens a student’s academic ability.
ArtsBuild offers Imagine! to all Hamilton County School students in grades K-5. Thanks to the support of ArtsBuild donors, we are able to provide Imagine! at no cost to the schools or the students. We especially thank these philanthropic and civic partners for their leadership support of the Imagine! program: Beacon Foundation Charitable Trust, Schillhahn-Huskey Foundation, City of Chattanooga, Lillian L. Colby Foundation, Hamico Foundation, George R. Johnson Family Foundation, and Tucker Foundation.
Almost 100% of Hamilton County public elementary schools voluntarily participate each year, and last year the program served 14,000 students. Each grade level is paired with a presenting arts organization:
Kindergarten - Creative Discovery Museum
First Grade - Chattanooga Theatre Centre
Second Grade - Chattanooga Ballet
Third Grade - Chattanooga Symphony & Opera
Fourth Grade - SoLit Theatre Express
Fifth Grade - Hunter Museum of American Art
Fifth Grade - Sculpture Fields at Montague Park
Due to students being unable to participate in field trips during the pandemic, ArtsBuild created a series of new videos for the Imagine! program. Visit our YouTube page for more! Lift Media Group (2020)
ArtsBuild is committed to fostering equitable and transformative education through the arts in our community. One way we do this is providing resources and support for local educators. During the academic year, ArtsBuild organizes multiple opportunities for Hamilton County educators to engage with professional teaching artists and national arts education experts through workshops focused on integrating the arts with other subjects. Teacher training workshops are supported in part by a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission.
Past Workshops for Educators
October 14, 2023 and October 16 - 17, 2023 – Kennedy Center Arts Integration Workshop - In this fresh and energizing workshop, educators learned to guide students in synthesizing information about a historical figure by writing lyrics for Hip Hop songs and helped students connect with the rhythm of Hip Hop while deepening their understanding of history. Led by Kennedy Center Teaching Artist Bomani Armah.
Developing a Network of Local Teaching Artists
Teaching artists are professional artists who incorporate teaching into their practice and add arts experiences to the core curricula to enrich learning. Teaching artists do not serve to replace school certified arts educators but introduce learners to a wide range of art forms, activities, and exercises for body and mind that affect the ways we interact with people and world around us.
ArtsBuild strives to support our local schools and local artists by promoting several opportunities for local artists to become certified teaching artists through the Tennessee Arts Commission, UTC-Wolf Trap, and the Kennedy Center Teaching Artist Fellowship. Each program offers a unique training opportunity and timeline for local artists to learn how to integrate their artform to support and to engage teachers and students of any subject.
Most teaching artist training cohorts work collaboratively through a series of meetings, virtual demonstration teachings, webinars, and professional mentorships specific to topics within the field of education. A strong local network of talented teaching artists is a valuable resource for community-wide arts integrated learning.
Held during National Arts in Education Week in September, ArtsBuild hosted an arts integration workshop at Barger Academy and the Chattanooga Theatre Centre for Hamilton County Schools educators. The workshop was led by Daniel Barash, a Kennedy Center Teaching Artist.
WTCI-PBS, one of our partners in education, produced a collaborative episode called “Story in Shadow” of the workshop participants’ retelling of a story written by Rita Lorraine Hubbard with a shadow puppetry performance.
Across the country, more than 100 arts organizations collaborate with their local school system as participants in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ Partners in Education program. ArtsBuild and Hamilton County Schools have been working together as a team through this program for over 20 years. As part of the program, ArtsBuild hosts free professional development workshops for teachers.
Chattanooga-Hamilton County is the 26th partner in Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child, a catalyst program of the Kennedy Center that improves student outcomes and creates community change by leveraging the power of strategic, coordinated arts education. Numerous studies point to the value of arts education in improving student outcomes, yet equity in, and access to, a strong, consistent arts education remains an issue for many students across the United States. Any Given Child seeks to help fill that gap by bringing together community stakeholders to create and implement a customized, unified, long-term plan for arts education for students in grades K-8 in Hamilton County.
In Chattanooga-Hamilton County, Any Given Child incorporates existing resources of the Hamilton County Schools, ArtsBuild, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, local arts and community organizations including the Chattanooga Theatre Centre and WTCI, and the Kennedy Center. Local educators and philanthropic and for-profit stakeholders provide additional resources. ArtsBuild serves as the lead organization for Any Given Child Chattanooga-Hamilton County with funding support provided by Hamilton County Schools.
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