Michigan schools considering a fully integrated and aligned fine arts curriculum now have a new resource at their disposal. School leaders at Concord Academy Petoskey are assisting other Michigan charter schools in the alignment and mapping of fully integrated fine arts curricula, development of a high-quality, comprehensive Internet resource, and implementation of professional development programs for new and aspiring teachers.
West Michigan Academy
Year Founded: 1996
Adminitration: David Lewis, Director and Carolyn Gilmore, Arts Coordinator
Location: 17350 Hazel Street, Spring Lake
Number of Students: 350
Number of Staff: 18 Teachers
West Michigan Academy of Arts & Academics is housed in a newer facility that features a state-of-the-art dance studio, a music facility and a drama room. The building also has large classrooms that will accommodate future growth. WMAAA recognizes that students have many different styles of learning and demonstrating their knowledge and skills. As a result, academic programs at WMAAA support the multiple intelligences of its students through developmentally appropriate, sequentially progressing, academically challenging courses.
WMAAA harmonizes arts and academics in a number of ways. For example, arts instructors and academic faculty will jointly plan their curriculum around a theme that rotates every 5 weeks, or students may be assigned to write an essay critiquing a production's choreography after attending a dance performance. Visiting artists are also part of the educational picture as evidenced by a visit from a Native American artist who shared his art and culture with the entire school.
Partnerships with Grand Valley State University's dance and music departments further enhances the academy's programs as does other community connections such as the two year grant that allows the Grand Rapids Symphony to teach and perform at the school.
Parent involvement is so important at the school that each parent signs a contract agreeing to support the academy's mission statement and code of conduct and to volunteer 25 hours each school year. Parents are held accountable and their support shows in the fact that there has been 100 percent attendance at parent/teacher conferences for consecutive years.
The academy's atmosphere of caring for each student is another of its strengths. Daily assembilies and other group activities help create a sense of belonging. Additionally, the staff knows each student on an individual level--academically, artistically, and personally. If anyone needs help or is experiencing difficulty, it is immediately recognized and addressed.
Michigan Association of Public School Academies
105 W. Allegan, Suite 300
Lansing, MI 48933
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