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The Art of Learning

Potomac Elementary will start new arts program in the fall.

Students at Potomac Elementary will have the opportunity to incorporate the arts into the learning process next fall.

The school is one of three elementary schools in the county selected to participate in the Arts Integrated Model Schools (AIMS) program.

“It’s putting the arts on an equal footing,” said school Principal Linda Goldberg.

Community members are excited about the new opportunities. “Mrs. Goldberg was instrumental in having us selected as an arts focus school,” said PTA President Sandy Bonner.

The two other elementary schools included in the program are Charles E. Drew in Silver Spring and Kensington Parkwood in Kensington.

To kick off the program this summer, the school will be sending about 80 percent of its faculty to a variety of training programs. The school’s music teacher and four third-grade teachers will be going to Cincinnati, Ohio to attend a workshop presented by the New York Metropolitan opera guild to help them to develop an opera with the students.

“There’s a whole network of opera schools in Montgomery County,” Goldberg said. She said that faculty members from these schools sometimes share ideas and tips, and Potomac now will be a part of that network.

Teachers will also be attending two other programs, held locally to learn other ways to integrate arts education into the curriculum. The programs will seek “to broaden the teachers in different art forms,” Goldberg said. She will be in attendance with them. “If the principal is not behind this thing, it does not go,” she said.

In addition to the development of an opera — which will include elements of music composition, writing, performance, and a host of other disciplines, Goldberg gave a history presentation as an example of what the students could be doing. She explained that typically, students might be assigned to develop a poster or collage.

“No one would ever explain to them what makes a good poster,” she said. Now teachers will be able to help the students to understand the design aspects of the poster, in addition to the history lesson.

Another example she gave is the popular museum concept, where the students would develop the exhibits and explain them to visitors. “We know the children are much more involved in the projects,” Goldberg said. “There’s much more ownership when this is involved.”

She also pointed out studies about the effect integrating arts has on the children’s education. Goldberg noted that it is not possible to establish a direct correlation between the program and academic performance, but “test scores do go up,” she said.