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home : schools : triton high news October 13, 2015

12/4/2012 1:02:00 PM
Triton begins arts integration project with Perpich Center for Arts Education

Teachers and students at Triton High School are embarking on a long-term adventure with Perpich Center for Arts Education, using state Legacy funds to create new curriculum that fuses academics and the arts in ways that the participants believe will help to increase learning, heighten student interest and build community in their schools.

Ashley Ehlert, Andy Jensen, and John Schreiber make up the Triton team of teachers who are a part of the Perpich Arts Integration project this year, and were selected to participate by a Perpich Center review panel as part of an application process.

"The teams of teachers who are participating in this project are clearly dedicated to their students and energized to develop arts-integrated curriculum that can deepen learning and bring the classroom alive in new ways," said Alina Campana, project coordinator. To develop and teach arts-integrated curriculum, these teachers are receiving professional development and funding to create rich learning opportunities in their classrooms. They are working as a team and with a total of 51 teachers in a network across Southeast Minnesota; their first workshop was in August.

Thirteen schools in 11 school districts in southeast Minnesota are part of the project: Austin High School, John Adams Middle School in Rochester, Kenyon-Wanamingo Elementary School, LeRoy-Ostrander Schools, Mabel-Canton School, McKinley Elementary School in Owatonna, Plainview-Elgin-Millville Community Schools, Sibley Elementary School in Albert Lea, Southland Middle and High School in Adams, and Triton High School in Dodge Center.

The professional development arm of Perpich Center for Arts Education, a state agency located in Golden Valley, received its second appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund of the Minnesota Legislature in order to work with this group. Perpich began this work three years ago with a group of Lakes Country schools in northwest Minnesota, made possible by Perpich's first Legacy Fund appropriation.

During those three years, the Perpich team led workshops and provided coaching to schools and individual teachers as they integrated arts and academic subjects and worked together in cross-disciplinary teams, using their own curriculum designs. The schools in southeast Minnesota will pursue the same goals, creating new curriculum, collaborating, and team teaching in the classrooms.

The Legacy Amendment, approved as a state constitutional amendment by voters in 2008, raised the state sales tax by three-eighths of a percentage with the resulting revenue dedicated to preserving wildlife, cleaning up the water in state lakes and rivers, park and trail maintenance, supporting arts, arts education and arts access, and preserving Minnesota's history and cultural heritage. The bill runs through 2034 with 19.75% of the revenue appropriated to the Arts And Cultural Heritage Fund.

Recent academic studies cited by the National Endowment for the Arts, "increasingly point to connections between strong arts programs in schools and academic achievement by students," says Sue Mackert, executive director for Perpich. "And research is also suggesting that arts education has a positive effect on young people's interpersonal skills, confidence, motivation to succeed and preparation for work."

A key element of the Perpich Arts Integration project is to share what the teachers have learned, along with their lesson and unit plans, on the web where other educators from around the state can access the curriculum and related materials and learn about the process these teachers have used to work together, develop curriculum, and learn from results. The project's website is at

Perpich is a state agency that serves all school districts in Minnesota. Created in 1985 by the legislature, the agency seeks to advance K-12 education throughout Minnesota by teaching in and through the arts. Perpich staff and faculty provide outreach, professional development, research, curriculum and standards development. The agency includes a statewide arts education library and a two-year public arts high school open to students from throughout the state.

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