When you think of rigorous classroom instruction, you probably think of the standard academic areas: math, science, language arts, history…but what about the arts? Rigorous arts education provides students with tools to succeed in many areas of life, and our arts teachers work diligently to challenge our students as performers, artists and scholars.

The arts provide students with an opportunity to build strengths including critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, discipline, creativity and more – not to mention the self-confidence that comes with mastering a tough solo or a new painting technique! At Broad Ripple Magnet High School for the Arts and Humanities, students receive a variety of opportunities to hone their skills in a rigorous environment. Students in the performing arts receive weekly private lessons; and advanced courses like AP Music Theory prepare upperclassmen for the challenges performers face after high school.


“When our kids leave [Broad Ripple], they are ready to go out and perform on the collegiate level,” said Choral Director Denise Johnson. “Our students are prepared at a competitive performance level as well as on the academic side of music with our advanced theory courses.”


At Nicholson Performing Arts Academy, teachers are employing an academically-infused arts model to help students engage the right brain and left brain while making connections between their arts and standard academic lessons. Principal Nathan Tuttle encourages arts teachers to use the vocabulary students are hearing in their other classes to make meaningful links between subjects.


“It’s not that I train my academic teachers to be arts teachers – nor do I train my arts teachers to be academic teachers – but I try to bring forth what the arts teachers are already doing to make academic connections through the arts,” said Tuttle.


Teachers collaborate to review pacing guides and identify commonalities between subjects – whether it’s talking about fractions as students break down the value of a sixteenth note or working on reading comprehension as they act out scenes from a play, the arts teachers of Nicholson are making contextual connections in their classrooms to open up new ways for students to learn.


“Many times an arts teacher may feel stereotypically less valued in a school, especially in a time where some people consider the arts to be expendable,” said Tuttle. By investing time and effort into this innovative model, the arts teachers at Nicholson are sure to know they’re valued for the impact they’re making on students!


Be on the lookout for more exciting updates on the state of arts education in IPS; our district is taking part in the newest implementation of The Kennedy Center’s Any Given Child initiative. Check www.anygivenchildindy.org for updates on our Community Arts Team’s progress as they study arts education in Indianapolis and create a strategic plan for increasing equitable access to arts opportunities in our schools!