Candidates for CMS Board of Education

Get ready for Election Day and meet the candidates running for office.

Each candidate was provided a questionnaire to complete and share their position on arts and culture. Below are the responses we received.

Things to know before you go vote

Candidates for CMS Board of Education, District 1

Annette Albright

2017 Candidate for CMS Board of Education, District 1

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), science or history while growing up and its impact on you.

When I was in the 3rd grade our school put on a performance of Madame Butterfly. I had never seen an opera and it was truly magical. The music, the lights, and all the costumes were nothing short of amazing. This performance helped me to realize I could go anywhere in the world with my imagination. I would often go back into the auditorium after watching that performance and I could see the opera over and over again in my mind.

Do you consider instruction in music, dance, drama, and the visual arts an essential part of a complete education for all Charlotte-Mecklenburg students? Please explain.

I do consider instruction in music, dance, drama, and the visual arts as an essential part of a complete education for all CMS students because all students should be offered the opportunity to discover their unique, creative, and individual talents. Due to limited resources and social and culture barriers, some students will only have exposure to knowing the arts thru public education.

Do you support funding of professional development to educate teachers on using arts-based techniques to integrate creativity and visual thinking strategies into academic subjects?

Yes, I do support funding of professional development to educate teachers on using arts-based techniques to integrate creativity because students have different learning styles. A student who learns more on the creative side would probably be more engaged if creativity and visual thinking strategies are introduced into academic subjects.

How can arts education support student outcomes such as reducing the achievement gap and preparing youth for college and/or meaningful careers?

While I was working at Harding High School the drama classes were cancelled. There was a group of students who had taken drama every year since entering high school and they were a close group; a few were seniors. At the beginning of the year there was no teacher but after about a month one was hired and the students loved her. Shortly after she was hired the drama classes were dropped. I walked into the drama room after the announcement and one student was crying. I asked her why she was crying and she told me that drama classes were the only way she had to escape the realities of her life and the world she lived in. Arts education can support student outcomes such as reducing the achievement gap and preparing youth for college by exposing them to people, places, and things that look very different than the world they experience on a day to day basis. Exposure to the arts also inspires and motivates students to reach their full potential.

Rhonda Lennon

2017 Candidate for CMS Board of Education, District 1

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), science or history while growing up and its impact on you.

I was always involved in music, dance and even ceramics. But the memory I still reflect back on is my 5th grade science fair project that focused on printing using classic metal print. My grandfather worked on a printing press, and I spent time with him learning how to set print and make my own calling cards. I researched the history of printing and won first place at my school and honorable mention at the regional science fair.

Do you consider instruction in music, dance, drama, and the visual arts an essential part of a complete education for all Charlotte-Mecklenburg students? Please explain.

I do think that education must incorporate the arts across the curriculum. I encourage all schools to have a STEAM lens on their programming

Do you support funding of professional development to educate teachers on using arts-based techniques to integrate creativity and visual thinking strategies into academic subjects?

Yes

How can arts education support student outcomes such as reducing the achievement gap and preparing youth for college and/or meaningful careers? 

Respondent skipped this question

Jess Miller

2017 Candidate for CMS Board of Education, District 1

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), science or history while growing up and its impact on you.

Science was something that not only always interested me, but something I also had an aptitude for. Animals, human body, dinosaurs, space, it didn’t matter I loved it all. In elementary school I got to go to a special STEM class for gifted students, which meant a lot to me because I wasn’t a great reader, and trouble at home manifested itself in poor behavior at school. When it came time for 8th grade class selection, I was recommended to take Algebra I and HS Earth Science. But this meant I would be in the advanced class for reading too, and that teacher, Ms. Bressan, was less sure of that, feeling that I might disrupt the learning and pace of other students who seemed ‘more committed’ to their education. I ended up in the ‘honors track’ and did great in math and science, not so much in reading. I acted out in class and Ms. Bressan knew I was that girl from ‘The Rock,’ my neighborhood, where fewer students in the district graduated from high school than other neighborhoods. Ms. Bressan started letting me skip class to spend extra time with the science teacher, and I took full advantage, feeling like Ms. Bressan didn’t really want me in the room anyway. 12 years after my science teacher gave up so much of her planning time so I could spend extra time in her room, I was a science teacher myself, looking to spread the love of science to a new generation.

Do you consider instruction in music, dance, drama, and the visual arts an essential part of a complete education for all Charlotte-Mecklenburg students? Please explain.

Yes, in fact when I ran the 21st Century Community Learning Center we received an ASC grant and participated in several projects using art and STEM. One of these projects was in partnership with a private school in our community, bringing together a racially and socioeconomically diverse group of young people to study water quality and create a piece of artwork using laundry detergent bottles to make a statement about pollution and its impact on our waterways.
Furthermore, I have been involved with planning a new charter school that has arts integration as a focus area, based on research that students, particularly at-risk students, can benefit tremendously with the use of art as a vehicle for learning.

Do you support funding of professional development to educate teachers on using arts-based techniques to integrate creativity and visual thinking strategies into academic subjects?

Yes, funding for teacher professional development related to arts-based techniques is important. Visual thinking strategies and graphic organizers can be very effective instructional tools and have been shown by researchers like Marzano to greatly impact student mastery. Not only can arts-based techniques be engaging for students (and teachers), but they can spur the creativity we need to solve the world’s 21st century problems. Ensuring that teachers are aware of and competent in these strategies is beneficial. The good news is that we have great educators doing this work right now in our community that we can learn from and scale from.

How can arts education support student outcomes such as reducing the achievement gap and preparing youth for college and/or meaningful careers?

Studies have shown that exposure to a curriculum infused with arts not only decreases behavior issues, but increases levels of engagement, and helps students develop creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving skills. These skills are critical for achieving success and satisfaction in college, career and citizenship in the 21st century. Furthermore, arts-infused curricula have been shown to decrease the achievement gap, providing multiple entry points to academic content, multiple ways to demonstrate learning, and affirmations of diverse cultures. Finally, it is important to recognize the role that artists play in movements around social justice, equity and inclusion. We have seen this in Charlotte throughout the past year since the Uprising as well as in other communities around the country. Whether it’s Devin Allen’s iconic picture from the Baltimore Uprising, or the Stand Strong CLT emblem created after the Keith Lamont Scott Shooting, our artists document the status quo and the work to drive change in our communities. As we work to create a more equitable Charlotte and address issues of economic mobility, certainly the arts must have a place in our community, particularly for young people.

Candidates for CMS Board of Education, District 2

Thelma Byers-Bailey

2017 Candidate for CMS Board of Education, District 2

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), science or history while growing up and its impact on you.

I had many art experiences while growing up that were meaningful to me, especially with music because I had 12 years of private piano lessons in addition to playing cello in my school orchestra and singing in my high school chorus. With respect to science, when I was the first from my high school to enter the city wide science fair, I had to use several different forms of art to demonstrate my subject which was the evolution of the horse. I made clay models to show brain evolution and I drew sketches to show bodily evolution. I also drew maps showing migration patterns across the world over time as well as other examples of their evolution. My entry won Honorable Mention and was the start of numerous entries from my high school in the succeeding years, some winning national recognition.

Do you consider instruction in music, dance, drama, and the visual arts an essential part of a complete education for all Charlotte-Mecklenburg students? Please explain.

Absolutely. I think it has been proven that the study of music enhances the understanding and comprehension of mathematics for example. I believe the study of visual arts enhances the study of geometry as well as the life sciences.

Do you support funding of professional development to educate teachers on using arts-based techniques to integrate creativity and visual thinking strategies into academic subjects?

Yes I do. The crossover of these disciplines is not instinctual. It is unreasonable to think that teachers will be able to assist students in harvesting the benefits of this duality without instruction.

How can arts education support student outcomes such as reducing the achievement gap and preparing youth for college and/or meaningful careers?

Arts education is more fun than dry academics. The emotions that are created with students are having fun create stronger memories which when coupled with academic exercises produce more lasting achievements which are measureable. These are the gaps we are currently experiencing and are desperate to close.

Lenora Shipp

2017 Candidate for CMS Board of Education, District 2

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), science or history while growing up and its impact on you.

As a child and student growing up I really enjoyed art and was good at drawing and creating different types of art media. I also sang in the chorus starting in junior high school and went on to West Charlotte High where I auditioned for drama productions and sang on both the Girls Ensemble and Mixed Choirs. We performed in several competitions throughout the district and nationally. When I later became an Elementary school teacher and a junior high school Science teacher, I used my talents in art to teach. I also enjoyed designing and decorating exciting bulletin boards that were themed based for my students each year. I loved teaching the Sciences especially having all of my students showcase their science projects and entering the Science Fair. I was a National Science Teacher Association member and was recognized as an outstanding Science Teacher in North Carolina.

Do you consider instruction in music, dance, drama, and the visual arts an essential part of a complete education for all Charlotte-Mecklenburg students? Please explain.

Yes, I believe the Arts enriches our students lives, The Arts and Sciences are inspirational and motivational. For instance, music, dance and movement is uplifting, it stimulates our senses. Instruction in the visual arts fosters the use of different modalities of learning styles. It is auditory, visual, kinetic, and tactical. It builds self esteem in areas students are talented and gifted. Art, Music, PE, Drama and Dance is an essential part of education. We must teach to the “whole child” !

Do you support funding of professional development to educate teachers on using arts-based techniques to integrate creativity and visual thinking strategies into academic subjects?

Yes, I have always encouraged professional development to educate all teachers to support critical thinking and creative learning using arts-based techniques in their lessons. I have always supported the Arts and Science Council as a school administrator. I advocated the importance of funding for the Arts and Science Council to my staff. I highly encouraged them to contribute and. my school always met 100% of its yearly goals.

How can arts education support student outcomes such as reducing the achievement gap and preparing youth for college and/or meaningful careers?

The arts and sciences is incorporated in literature, reading, writing and math. There is a connection for example between music, math and science. Drama and dance performances connect to literacy and writing (such as poetry, songs, lyrics,music). These learning opportunities support maximizing student achievement in reading, math and science. It also prepares our students to begin thinking about career and college choices they have talents and potentials for such as: Performing Arts, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

Candidates for CMS Board of Education, District 3

Janeen Bryant

2017 Candidate for CMS Board of Education, District 3

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), science or history while growing up and its impact on you.

From 7th to 10th grade, I was in a Fine Arts Creative Development program (I focused on costume and hair design) in my hometown. Along with honing my creative side, that experience strengthened my public speaking skills and my ability to communicate clearly to an audience, but it also gave me confidence to connect with others and through theatre begin understanding others’ emotions and perspectives. Because of the program, I was able to learn so much more than theatre techniques and the plots of great plays; I was able to learn how to connect with the people, issues and world around me.

Ultimately, I ended up in a Shakespearean troupe of high school actors that traveled to different schools throughout my home district, so the program became a field trip for others students. Since then, I’ve become a leader and advocate of the arts. That program was supported by and funded through a collaboration between our local fine arts center, the theatre and the school district.

Do you consider instruction in music, dance, drama, and the visual arts an essential part of a complete education for all Charlotte-Mecklenburg students? Please explain.

Absolutely, as champion for the arts, science and history I wholeheartedly support exposure to arts and culture as essential elements to any educational experience. Research indicates that students with experiences in music, art and culture perform better academically and are more likely to graduate. The arts represent a space for transformation for students, furthering their exposure culture, and simultaneously creating a more comprehensive connection to the world around them. We do not live in a one dimensional world so we cannot be OK with students who get a one-sided education. The arts build empathy and critical thinking.

In recent years we have been lax in our community’s public support of arts education, however this is shortsighted in the long-term growth of the “globalizing city” of Charlotte. Arts, Culture and History (or lack thereof) are fundamental to how we understand and relate to each other and can shape the identity of a city. The experiences of children related to field trips, curriculum, direct instruction and internship within the arts will fundamentally shape their relationship to their community and the value they place on creativity and place making.

Do you support funding of professional development to educate teachers on using arts-based techniques to integrate creativity and visual thinking strategies into academic subjects?

Visual Thinking Strategies engage learners through their participation with the arts, not as experts, but as learners. This strategy builds the teacher and student relationship while expanding their knowledge of visual art. It seamlessly ties into the larger promotion of multiple literacies for students as they explore a variety of media in any course. I support all professional development experiences that stretch and grow the professional capacity of teachers and students in the realm of 21st Century and College and Career Readiness. For me, art, culture and history are central to these values, supporting collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and analysis.

How can arts education support student outcomes such as reducing the achievement gap and preparing youth for college and/or meaningful careers?

Arts education requires discipline, innovation and creativity. It supplies the rigor of any academic experience while integrating the needed elements of personalizing learning. When students are exposed to new ways of thinking and learning and embrace the new experiences their creative expression brings, it can be transformative. Arts are able to help students at all levels connect with their studies and themselves which can only improve performance and give them outlets–both as social capital and career opportunities–to take their talents to the next level.

Students particularly those who may have limited access to specialized programming and arts experience, deserve to share in the joy of creative expression through rigorous instruction, exposure to a variety of arts based content and skill development so we need to ensure they get that. It can only help us a community and them as learners.

Emmitt Terrell Butts, candidate for District 3, did not submit a response. 

Levester Flowers

2017 Candidate for CMS Board of Education, District 3

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), science or history while growing up and its impact on you.

I had to recite a fifteen minute senior oration as a part of my high school graduation requirements.

Do you consider instruction in music, dance, drama, and the visual arts an essential part of a complete education for all Charlotte-Mecklenburg students? Please explain.

Yes, because it exposes students to a well rounded and culturally driven education.

Do you support funding of professional development to educate teachers on using arts-based techniques to integrate creativity and visual thinking strategies into academic subjects?

Yes

How can arts education support student outcomes such as reducing the achievement gap and preparing youth for college and/or meaningful careers?

It can expose students to varied concepts and intellectual disciplines that broaden their knowledge of art, music and drama.

Ruby M. Jones

2017 Candidate for CMS Board of Education, District 3

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), science or history while growing up and its impact on you.

Every year in elementary school, every classroom was required to put on a play or some sort of visual, musical or creative performance. It was the highlight of our year. We tried to outperform each other! Sadly, my only talent was saying a poem.

Do you consider instruction in music, dance, drama, and the visual arts an essential part of a complete education for all Charlotte-Mecklenburg students? Please explain.

As I learned in elementary school, every student has a talent tat makes them special. The arts humanizes and teaches in ways that all can understand. It is critical to our culture.

Do you support funding of professional development to educate teachers on using arts-based techniques to integrate creativity and visual thinking strategies into academic subjects?

Indeed, I do support! learning by doing, kinesthetic techniques enable more students to learn and “show that they know.”

How can arts education support student outcomes such as reducing the achievement gap and preparing youth for college and/or meaningful careers?

Students learn to read via raps, movement and creating. A student with visual art intelligence can give the events in history or express the main idea in a story through drawing. Art is an excellent outlet for teaching social, emotional skills, as well as about other cultures.

Blanche Penn

2017 Candidate for CMS Board of Education, District 3

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), science or history while growing up and its impact on you.

I will never forget when I was a teenager and I performed in a talent show. I played Tina Turner in front of my friends and the student’s body at school and the music stopped playing, but we had to keep on dancing and singing. It was so embarrassing but everyone said to us the outfits were beautiful and we did look nice on stage. I still believe because of that experience it helped me build my self-esteem and still today I perform on stage Tina Turner act. I play Tina Turner at many birthday parties function, churches, organizations, and centers. At my family reunion, my husband played Ide Turner and I did Tina Turner and we came home with the gold. I also went on to college and have a Bachelor Degree in Theatre from UNC-Charlotte.

Do you consider instruction in music, dance, drama, and the visual arts an essential part of a complete education for all Charlotte-Mecklenburg students? Please explain.

I do believe that the arts are an essential part of a complete education for all Charlotte- Mecklenburg students. I have a degree at UNC-Charlotte in a Bachelor of Art in Theatre and have done many workshops with students. This year I had a summer camp (Greater Charlotte Summer Art Camp) with two other individuals which were for only four weeks in music, visual arts, drama, and music. The children never played an instrument, worked on a stage, or danced with a focus before, and the visual arts was exposed to them in new ways. The camp was so successful that we were invited to Johnson C. Smith’s art event and the children performed. Not only that but after camp, the children have been invited back to the Moscal village to perform. The camp was so good we have our contract for the next six weeks and teachers workday to have a focus in music, dance, drama, and visual arts.

Here is a picture:
We had 20 students, and the invitation for next Saturday (Please see email below):

Miss Blanche this is Myra from today at the Science Fair. I spoke to you briefly regarding the youth resource fair that I wanted your youth band to be a part of.

OPERATION: EDUCATION Will be hosting a youth resource fair for parents and their children on Saturday, September 30, 2017, at the community space at Mosaic village. It will be a day filled with demonstrations and organizations addressing parents on how they can help their youth be more active throughout the school year with valuable and productive organizations.

Some of the organizations involved will be:
The Rising Stars Boys Program
Mogul Kidz LLC
Future Heros STEAM Program
African American Homeschoolers Of Charlotte
Dancing on the Go
The Males Place
Northwest Little League
Young Saviours Academy
And more are being added.

I would like for your youth band to come out, so a demonstration and set up an information table so that interested parents can register.

Please let me know if this sounds of interest to you.
Myra Foster
Publisher
#BlackOwnedCLT
Charlotte’s PREMIER Black Business Directory
OPERATION: EDUCATION is a division of The Teach a Man To Fish Foundation

Do you support funding of professional development to educate teachers on using arts-based techniques to integrate creativity and visual thinking strategies into academic subjects?

I do support funding of professional development to educate teachers on using arts-based techniques to integrate creativity and visual thinking strategies into academic subjects.

How can arts education support student outcomes such as reducing the achievement gap and preparing youth for college and/or meaningful careers?

I am an example of a student that went to a two-year college, then on to four-year college and now working on my Ph.D. When you have the support of the teachers, staff, community, parents, and the student’s anything is possible for our students. In order to reduce the achievement gap and prepare youth for college and/or meaningful careers, it can be done by:

  • College Ready
  • Evaluation and Assessment Report on Career Readiness at the school.
  • Did the eighth-grade graduate have a career plan? What grade do students have a career plan?
  • Review all students in a graduating cohort going to the ninth grade.
  • Track student path through high school.
  • Did parents and students meet with the guidance counselor and/or career teachers on a yearly basis?
  • English and Math, from the Common Core
  • Time Management
  • Financial Aid, Grants, Grades, EOG and testing grades
  • Prepared for postsecondary education
  • Knowledge and skill, credits courses
  • decision-making skills
  • metacognitive skills
  • writing competency
  • emotional/social maturity
  • organizational skills
  • realistic goals
  • critical reading skill

If students are not ready for college the student repeat classes, enroll in remedial classes costing parents additional tuition and experience difficulties getting accepted into many colleges. We can help our students be ready with love and care for all children.

Olivia Scott, Candidate for District 3, did not submit a response.

Candidates for CMS Board of Education, District 4

Carol Sawyer

2017 Candidate for CMS Board of Education, District 4

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), science or history while growing up and its impact on you.

I grew up in rural Indiana 50 miles from Chicago. My parents were Chicagoans, a rarity in my town. I was introduced early to the wonders of Goodman Children’s Theatre, The Field Museum, and The Lyric Opera. My early immersion in museums shaped my career path. Later I served as Director of Exhibits and Planning for the Museum of Life and Science in Durham helping transform it from a little nature center in the woods to a full scale science and nature museum.

Do you consider instruction in music, dance, drama, and the visual arts an essential part of a complete education for all Charlotte-Mecklenburg students? Please explain.

Yes. Arts education sparks imagination and expands possibilities. My first education advocacy was speaking to my rural board of education on behalf of cultural field trips to Chicago. Later, the flexibility afforded my daughter as a student at East Meck to intern in the costume department at Children’s Theatre of Charlotte gave her a taste of what would become her profession as a theatre props artisan.

The arts offer students the opportunity to find and express their passion in ways that can provide motivation and context for other academic subjects.

Do you support funding of professional development to educate teachers on using arts-based techniques to integrate creativity and visual thinking strategies into academic subjects?

Yes. I support integrating arts across the curriculum. As a volunteer in Title 1 schools, I’ve helped elementary students produce shadow puppet plays in support of literacy, used musical instruments to teach the science of sound, and built kaleidoscopes with students to explore the art and mathematics of symmetry. I’ve seen first hand the excitement that arts integration brings to other academic subjects.

How can arts education support student outcomes such as reducing the achievement gap and preparing youth for college and/or meaningful careers?

The new film “Purple Dreams” documents the multiple ways that participating in the arts motivates students to stay in school, dig in more deeply and work together toward goals. “Purple Dreams” follows students from Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, Northwest School of the Arts as they mount the musical “The Color Purple”.

Unfortunately, many CMS schools with high concentrations of students living in poverty have eliminated the arts from their curriculum. In 2016-17, at Druid Hills Elementary, the only arts offering for 6th-8th graders was band. At Bruns Academy, 6th -7th graders could take art or band while 8th graders were limited to band alone. These schools did not offer chorus, drama, or dance. It’s not working — bleak data on student achievement in these schools casts doubt on the effectiveness of the recent “core subjects only” strategy that eliminates creative electives.

Stephanie Sneed

2017 Candidate for CMS Board of Education, District 4

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), science or history while growing up and its impact on you.

While growing up I learned to play multiple instruments including the piano and clarinet and was in the marching band. These experiences helped me to become a well-rounded student and allowed me to develop characteristics and life skills that I have carried into adulthood including focus, discipline, multitasking, responsibility, commitment, teamwork, time management, leadership and appreciation of hard work.

Do you consider instruction in music, dance, drama, and the visual arts an essential part of a complete education for all Charlotte-Mecklenburg students? Please explain.

I believe it is essential and a vital component of education. There can be no substitute for the arts and it should be a mandatory part of our curriculum. We know that student participation in the arts and music create well-rounded students who experience greater success academically. Besides developing academically, students that participate in the arts often develop life skills such as self-confidence, decision making and leadership. Lastly, Just as adults, students need a space to relieve stress so they can be productive and the arts provide a constructive outlet for students.

Do you support funding of professional development to educate teachers on using arts-based techniques to integrate creativity and visual thinking strategies into academic subjects?

Of course. Educating students cannot have a cookie-cutter approach. Our teachers should be equipped and have many tools at their disposal to ensure a successful academic career for our students. I am a firm believer that the professional development for teachers in arts-based techniques will lead to more successful outcomes for our students.

How can arts education support student outcomes such as reducing the achievement gap and preparing youth for college and/or meaningful careers?

Closing the achievement gap is an integral part of my platform. We know that children do not learn the same and some students benefit greatly from art-based techniques. Additionally, as previously discussed, children that participate in the arts and music are generally more well-rounded and have greater success academically. Besides developing academically, students that participate in the arts often develop life skills such as self-confidence, decision making and leadership. These attributes are integral in preparing students for post high school life. An investment in our children now will pay dividends in the future.

Queen Thompson, Candidate for District 4, did not submit a response. 

Candidates for CMS Board of Education, District 5

Margaret Marshall

2017 Candidate for CMS Board of Education, District 5

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), science or history while growing up and its impact on you.

I grew up on a farm in a rural area one hour north of Charlotte. My parents were big believers in music and made sure that my siblings and I were exposed to all types of music; classical, sacred, R&B, even the radio gospel hour on Sunday night! My mother in particular wanted my sister, brother, and me exposed to arts performances and we regularly attended the Community Concert productions in my hometown of Lexington. I will never forget watching the great pianists Ferrante and Teicher perform in the high school auditorium. They inspired me to dig a little deeper and practice piano even harder so that my time at the piano became a place of creativity and peace from teenage angst. Exposure to the arts gave me a place of respite, helped me academically, and was just fun. Expanding access to the arts for all students in CMS is vitally important.

Do you consider instruction in music, dance, drama, and the visual arts an essential part of a complete education for all Charlotte-Mecklenburg students? Please explain.

I absolutely do. I studied piano for 11 years and was a “band kid.” I know that those experiences helped me develop my math skills, gave me discipline, and offered me social development skills. I want CMS to offer the most well rounded education to all our students and arts education is foundational in that endeavor. I believe that arts education embedded in coursework offered by CMS will get our students where they need to be academically faster and more effectively. Arts education taps the entire brain and helps that brain make connections that are lasting and productive. Any great teacher knows that engaging the whole child will raise reading and math scores as well as give that child social and emotional confidence. Arts education is a perfect vehicle to making that happen.

Do you support funding of professional development to educate teachers on using arts-based techniques to integrate creativity and visual thinking strategies into academic subjects?

Professional development for teachers to promote creativity and visual thinking strategies is something that teachers naturally gravitate to and request and I most certainly support. At the core of teaching is how to make a lesson “stick” and come alive and arts-based techniques are the perfect way to achieve this. The ability of our children to be creative and to organize data and reach conclusions is central to their education as the amount of information at their fingertips has exploded. Training teachers to enhance learning through arts based instruction embedded into the curriculum is low hanging fruit.

How can arts education support student outcomes such as reducing the achievement gap and preparing youth for college and/or meaningful careers?

Arts education promote creativity, confidence, discipline, and social-emotional learning. These qualities all contribute to a child’s ability to learn and meet the levels of reading and math proficiency that we as a community want for them. Since the arts taps all areas of the brain, young children make permanent and lasting connections that facilitate learning. Parents are often drawn to participate with their children in arts activities and performances in a way that they are not with other subjects and as result, the more engaged parents are with their children, the better the learning outcomes. Older students can use arts training to enter the “creative economy” – over 58,000 strong in the Charlotte region – and have opportunities to pursue arts education avenues or enhance their abilities to communicate and collaborate in other areas of study. Often times arts involvement keeps students in school who are struggling and give them a path to build a successful life and career. There is academic, economic, and emotional value in improving and expanding arts education.

Jim Peterson

2017 Candidate for CMS Board of Education, District 5

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), science or history while growing up and its impact on you.

Let me share a more recent experience. My daughters have danced in various programs for a very long time(over 10 years.) During that time I have had amazing joy and opportunities to participate with them in daddy daughter dances. I have been onstage at the Blumenthal and many other venues more times than most of the kids in these dance programs. Let me tell you, it is a wonderful experience that neither my daughters nor I will ever forget. Charlotte has a wonderful art community and I want to make sure our children have access to those growth opportunities as part of their greater educational experience.

Do you consider instruction in music, dance, drama, and the visual arts an essential part of a complete education for all Charlotte-Mecklenburg students? Please explain.

Yes, the arts are a great addition to a well rounded educational experience. One of my daughters is a tremendous ballet dancer in addition to being a very good violist in her school orchestra. I believe the instruction in these have given her a solid base of learning, physical, and mental growth that simply is not found in other activities.

Do you support funding of professional development to educate teachers on using arts-based techniques to integrate creativity and visual thinking strategies into academic subjects?

Yes, I am a strong believer in professional development opportunities for all of our teachers. Adding skills to enhance creative teaching strategies in traditional subjects is a huge bonus to both student engagement and teacher interaction. When kids have teachers that are passionate and interactive with their lessons, kids actually tend to pay more attention.

How can arts education support student outcomes such as reducing the achievement gap and preparing youth for college and/or meaningful careers?

Arts education provides students with additional ways and paths to learning. Children learn in different ways and with differing styles. While some excel in text books others can flourish in creative studies. The beauty of diverse learning is the diverse society we get from the variety of skills in our communities. I tell my kids all the time that if everyone was the same, we would have a very boring world. God gave us all wonderful gifts of unique skills. The achievements and success of a child cannot only be judged in traditional studies but may sometimes need to be seen through their grace and joy in the arts.

Please reach out to me with any concerns, recommendations, or even just for discussions regarding CMS and your kids. I look forward to the opportunity to be a part of your life through our School Board.
Jim Peterson for CMS in District 5.
Website: www.ElectJimPeterson.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JimPetersonCMS

Jeremy A. Stephenson

2017 Candidate for CMS Board of Education, District 5

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), science or history while growing up and its impact on you.

My mother entered college on a theater/performing arts scholarship and the arts here played a profound impact upon my entire life. I wad the kid in AP Calculus while also AP Art History and AP Portfolio Drawing. When we moved here 12 years ago from Chicago one big reason was the existence of The Light Factory for my wife (MFA, Photography, Art Inst of Chicago).

Do you consider instruction in music, dance, drama, and the visual arts an essential part of a complete education for all Charlotte-Mecklenburg students? Please explain.

Absolutely! Music, visual, parts are critical to cognitive development in complimenting concepts in math and language.

Do you support funding of professional development to educate teachers on using arts-based techniques to integrate creativity and visual thinking strategies into academic subjects?

Yes.

How can arts education support student outcomes such as reducing the achievement gap and preparing youth for college and/or meaningful careers?

The arts can expose children to a future that exists outside their immediate four walls and ignite a spark or grab a hook to a lifetime love of learning.

Candidates for CMS Board of Education, District 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allen Smith

2017 Candidate for CMS Board of Education, District 6

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), science or history while growing up and its impact on you.

I have always used art, in one form or another, to express myself. When I was a kid, I wasn’t very studious, but I loved anything artistic — especially movies and television. In elementary school, I would stay up watching old reruns on Nick at Nite and would find ways to pay homage to them in my work at school. I remember one project in particular where we had to role-play for our DARE class. While other groups put together simple skits, I helped our group assemble a full, dramatic piece complete with props, police, and the music from an old episode of Dragnet. As an adult, I studied film in college and fell in love with things like postmodernism, bricolage, and intertextuality. I went on to earn an MFA in screenwriting, and had the opportunity to share my passion for art with students as a teacher for Duke TIP. I currently work as a multimedia producer, and everything I get to create exists in a really fun cross-sectional space between drama, music, and video. Art has definitely had a profound influence on my life; it’s a core part of who I am.

Do you consider instruction in music, dance, drama, and the visual arts an essential part of a complete education for all Charlotte-Mecklenburg students? Please explain.

Absolutely. People often think of these subjects as supplemental, but for many students (myself included), things like drama, music, dance, and visual arts provide the kernel that all of their educational experiences build upon. I believe the studies that show the impact it has on all students. For instance, something like theatre can improve academic performance, build self esteem, and aid in reading comprehension. It has also been shown to help students boost their SAT scores. It’s also something that helps close achievement gaps by connecting with students who have different learning styles and interests.

Do you support funding of professional development to educate teachers on using arts-based techniques to integrate creativity and visual thinking strategies into academic subjects?

Yes. Teachers are incredible and they are all capable of transformative work in their classrooms if we give them the right tools and the flexibility to have an impact on every student.

How can arts education support student outcomes such as reducing the achievement gap and preparing youth for college and/or meaningful careers?

I mentioned this above about theatre, but it really does apply to all arts education. Art is in everything we do. Music and color theory, for instance, are intertwined with mathematics and science. Art is tangible and relatable. Students can study something like the Civil Rights movement, but show them photos of Dorothy Counts braving the angry crowds at Harding High School, and the lesson becomes much more layered. Students don’t just learn about the event; they learn about bravery, empathy, and justice too — skills which are crucial in preparing them for the meaningful lives as adults. To borrow from Kurt Vonnegut, art makes our souls grow. It shows us who we are. It challenges our beliefs and teaches us that there are many ways to solve problems. It is what makes us human.

 

 

 

Sean Strain

2017 Candidate for CMS Board of Education, District 6

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), science or history while growing up and its impact on you.

While I am certainly more mechanically and technically inclined than artistic, arts were encouraged and celebrated in our home growing up. I have fond memories of my time in the band, a middle-school class in video production, and certainly enjoyed both science and history over the years.

With my father in the Army, we took full advantage of the opportunity to live overseas, exploring European history an d culture as a family. My wife and I continued this passion, and did the same with our time together in Europe. I will never forget the Hermitage museum in St Petersburg, certainly one of the most stunning collections of art in existence, which we made a point to visit on our 20th anniversary trip to explore Russia.

Do you consider instruction in music, dance, drama, and the visual arts an essential part of a complete education for all Charlotte-Mecklenburg students? Please explain.

While we rightly measure academic achievement and focus on the “3 R’s” in education, there is no question that development of creativity, imagination, and the more “artistic” functions of the right brain are equally critical to the complete development and education of the child/student.

Do you support funding of professional development to educate teachers on using arts-based techniques to integrate creativity and visual thinking strategies into academic subjects?

There is strong evidence to support the effectiveness of arts-based techniques in academic education, and I support further investment in PD to this end.

How can arts education support student outcomes such as reducing the achievement gap and preparing youth for college and/or meaningful careers?

Whether in academics (K-12 and university) or the workplace, the creativity and innovation that develops through arts education has been shown time and again to deliver greater results. Both universities and employers increasingly look for well-rounded individuals as a result.

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