Teaching & Learning

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Arts Program Expands

Roy Dexheimer, a superintendent from Ithaca, N.Y., would never have done this on his own. But there he was standing in the middle of a rehearsal room at the Juilliard School this summer in his khaki shorts and golf shirt. As the music of Vivaldi played in the background, he began making slow, sweeping motions with his arms, soaring high and swooping low with the grace of an eagle. The soft, nervous snickers of his colleagues--superintendents from throughout the state--quickly faded. They were impressed, even moved, by Mr. Dexheimer's interpretation of the music.

The exercise was part of the Lincoln Center Institute. Sponsored by the famed Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, the 23-year-old program aims to expose educators to the power of the arts and convince them of their place in the curriculum.

Throughout the years, Lincoln Center has held hundreds of similar workshops. Now, after more than two decades of working with teachers in local schools, the institute expanded this year to other areas of the country, with 17 arts organizations adapting the program for schools in their regions.

"Our goal first and foremost is to get the arts into schools in a substantial way," said Scott Noppe-Brandon, the institute's executive director. "We trust that when people interact with [an art form], they'll understand it. This creates an awareness of how important the arts are for schools."

While the superintendents learned about dance and movement, teachers in an adjacent classroom were being coached by local artists in using the visual arts, music, and drama in the classroom.

Mr. Dexheimer counts himself among the converted. "We're so busy raising standards that we forget there are more things in life than learning about the Louisiana Purchase," Mr. Dexheimer said. "As administrators, we spend our time on routine tasks; wondering where the money is coming from or if the buses are running on time. We don't spend enough time connecting those things to human expression."

Undeterred by the crash that ended Steve Fossett's attempt at the first nonstop balloon trip around the globe this summer, a team of pilots is set to launch its own dirigible in December. This time, students can follow along as the crew leaves Australia and travels at the edge of space, flying west over two continents and three oceans on its 18-day voyage.

The adventure, sponsored by RE/MAX International, a Denver-based real estate franchise organization, will be documented on the World Wide Web. Before the launch, students and teachers can learn about geography, human adaptation, aeronautics, and meteorology through the Ballooning Education Curriculum designed for the trip by the Center for Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. The curriculum will be translated into Spanish, Portuguese, and French.

Once under way, the balloonists will send students regular updates from their perch 130,000 feet above Earth. Students can learn about the scientific experiments the crew expects to perform during the trip and their observations of such natural phenomena as upward lightning. The Web site will provide minute-by-minute tracking of the balloon. For more information on the project, and curriculum links, visit

The Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, a successful 20-year partnership to help teachers improve their curriculum, is trying to clone itself.

With a $2.5 million grant from the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, the institute in New Haven, Conn., has given $20,000 planning grants to five universities to work with local public schools: Carnegie Mellon University/Chatham College, in Pittsburgh; the University of California, at its campuses in Irvine and Santa Cruz; the University of Houston; and the University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque. All five sites will be eligible for three-year implementation grants of $300,000 to $500,000, which will be awarded in December.

The institute was established in 1978 to improve teaching in New Haven's low-income communities, based on the premise that teachers from Yale University and the New Haven schools are professional colleagues with strong common interests in teaching and learning. Classroom teachers each spring determine topics for spring and summer seminars, which are then conducted by Yale faculty members.

Over the years, 435 teachers have become fellows at the institute.


Vol. 18, Issue 2, Page 8

Published in Print: September 16, 1998, as Teaching & Learning

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