Access to Arts Education Expanded Through ASC’s Wolf Trap

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Why this matters: Because engaging students within the first few years of their lives is critical to their future success.
Erin Badger-Coffey, teaching artist for Wolf Trap residency, at Bethlehem Center Head Start, Stroud Park Court.
Erin Badger-Coffey, teaching artist for Wolf Trap residency, at Bethlehem Center Head Start, Stroud Park Court. Photo by Nancy Pierce.
By Angela Haigler

NC Wolf Trap, a program of ASC, uses arts integration in pre-kindergarten classes to ensure children are ready for kindergarten in literacy and math. Last year, the program served 996 students in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region.

The program has made such an impact that it continues to expand into additional counties. This growth means that even more children will have the chance to benefit from this internationally acclaimed program. Research shows how effective arts-focused education is as a tool for reaching children in their early years.

For the past three years NC Wolf Trap has steadily expanded, most recently adding the North Carolina counties of Rutherford, Vance and Gaston. Additionally, South Carolina is represented for the first time in the program’s history with York County.

NC Wolf Trap Director Kathryn Bentley said outreach has been part of her goals since she became the director in 2012.

NC Wolf Trap Director Kathryn Bentley

“I wanted us to have a presence in as many places as possible, while still maintaining program quality and effectiveness,” Bentley said. “We’ve been able to do that, and we are very proud of our efforts.”

Program growth also includes a new offering, Baby Arts Play!™, available for families in York and Mecklenburg counties for children aged 0 to 3 years old. Baby Artsplay!™ classes demonstrate the important connection between the performing arts and infant/toddler development. Through family and classroom residencies, parents/caregivers will learn strategies for incorporating singing, dancing, drama, and other multi-sensory activities into their child’s daily routine to increase engagement and improve learning.

“The nation as a whole is becoming more aware of how important early childhood education is,” said Bentley. “Our efforts are a way for us to continue to acknowledge this importance by positively impacting early education through the arts.”

NC Wolf Trap is one of 17 national sites of the acclaimed Wolf Trap Early Learning through the Arts Program. The regional program, the only one in North Carolina, began in the 2006-07 school year and provides teaching artists for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) Bright Beginnings classes and More-at-Four classes in Mecklenburg County.

The seven-week residencies partner professional teaching artists with early childhood educators to provide arts-based instruction to help ensure children under the age of six are prepared to enter school.

For more information about NC Wolf Trap or Baby Artsplay!™ contact Kathryn Bentley at or call 704-335-3047.