Creative Schools Initiative

We use the arts as a tool to explore curriculum and inspire a love of learning. Our teaching artists collaborate with classroom teachers to create lesson plans that integrate the arts and social justice into the students’ core curriculum.

The Creative Schools Initiative (CSI) is an intensive arts integration program aimed at addressing the racial and economic disparity in access to arts education by teaching artistic skills and creativity while strengthening academic learning and contributing to a liberatory classroom environment that fosters young people’s sense of belonging, connection, and mindsets for learning. In 2014, Arts Corps received a 4-year, $1.8 Million dollar investment from the U.S. Department of Education to expand this program into Highline Public Schools and to conduct research to study the impact of the program on student’s academic engagement and learning mindsets. Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, teaching artists have been partnering intensively with 5th and 6th grade classroom teachers to integrate theatre and visual arts into language arts curriculum at four Highline elementary schools. Initial research findings from this project suggest that this model strengthens students’ learning mindsets and academic performance, especially for academically vulnerable groups (i.e. those classified as needing special education). 

In the 2016-17 school year, Arts Corps is also partnering with three Seattle schools to implement CSI partnerships, including Orca K-8, Hawthorne Elementary School, and Sand Point Elementary Schools. Teaching artists are embedded in each school to integrate poetry, theatre, and music into other core content areas over the course of the school year.

The Creative Schools Initiative (CSI) was initially piloted at two Seattle schools that are committed to enhancing student learning and school culture through the arts: Orca K-8 and Madrona K-8 middle schools. Initial findings from this pilot showed increases in self and teacher-reported student engagement, arts skills, and academic mindsets.

Listen to students from Madrona K-8 reflect on their experiences as participants in the pilot program:

(Audio by Amy Piñon)