ArtsBridge Receives $250,000 Grant

Paul Jackson

Lawrence University News Services reports that the university had been chosen to take part in a $250,000 grant, according
to a Jan. 23 press release. Lawrence received the grant from the National Geographic Society Education Foundation for the ArtsBridge program. Five other schools also received grants for educational
programs. ArtsBridge, founded by President Jill Beck, will use this grant to implement a new teaching technique in local elementary schools.
The goal of the program’s new technique,
called “Mapping the Beat,” is “teaching
history and geography through music,” says Lawrence student Sarah Tochiki. Tochiki, a senior music education major, is currently Lawrence’s only “Mapping the Beat” scholar and is administering the curriculum at Edison Elementary School in Appleton. When asked about her opinion of the program, Tochiki said that she would have wanted an opportunity like ArtsBridge when she herself was in grade school. “I really wish I could have participated
in a program like this,” she said. “It is just a great approach to learning.”
Soon, students nationwide might have the opportunity that many older students have missed. Research on the success of this project, as measured through the students’
social studies performance, is being accumulated at the Center for Learning Through the Arts, a research site located at the University of California at Irvine. If successful, programs like ArtsBridge could be easily implemented nationwide.
The advantages of the grant and program are numerous. Jasmine Yep, Lawrence’s regional director for ArtsBridge, strongly believes that the program, in addition
to being an educational advantage for involved students, has broader implications
as well. “This program creates partnerships
between Lawrence and the community
through the effort of our students and their students,” stated Yep.
Increased visibility within the community
is a huge advantage for the university,
but Lawrence students may still find themselves wondering what direct impact it has on the majority of students who not at all involved with the project or program. “Hopefully, through the grant, more Lawrentians will take advantage of the program and be willing to tackle the curriculum and get into the schools,” said Tochiki.
Such a trend would inevitably lead to what Yep calls “teacher/artists” – a completely
new approach to education. Citing the need to connect the program with university students as a whole, Yep went on to point out that “students are able to bring other students, friends, from a variety
of departments into the classroom,” an advantage to the lesson being taught. This interdisciplinary approach to elementary education, a hallmark certainly foreseen by Beck, is the Lawrence philosophy and “Lawrence Difference” in action.
Because the stipend received by the National Geographic Society Education Foundation is to be spread out over the course of three years, current Lawrence students who are as yet unaffiliated with the ArtsBridge program are welcome and encouraged to apply for the coming two years of “Mapping the Beat.” Selected students
will be eligible for a $1,500 tuition grant and the opportunity to take an ArtsBridge orientation course for credit. Applications for fall term are due in mid-May, and all interested parties are advised to contact Jasmine Yep for more information.