By Steve Sandbothe, Senior Program Director

Springboard to Learning is so excited to announce our participation in the creation, design and implementation of The St Louis Canvass Project and St. Louis Teaching Artist Institute (TAI). This is a new, year-long, arts enrichment and leadership development program for middle school students in St Louis and a teaching artist’s professional development. The TAI was developed, and is facilitated, by Springboard to Learning Master Teaching Artist.  The TAI is designed to complement and support the Canvass Project by providing 26 area teaching artists with training in the practical aspects of teaching artistry as a tool to help them build sustainable and thriving careers as teaching artists and leaders in arts and culture.

The St. Louis Canvass Project is funded in part by the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) and three-year grant from Wells Fargo Advisors and is being developed by RAC in partnership with Springboard to Learning with curriculum development supported by FOCUS St. Louis.

In 2017, RAC began to test the idea of launching an out-of-school program for middle school students. The program was designed to use arts and culture as tools for advancing student social and emotional competencies, such as empathy, respect for racial and ethnic differences, and for gaining a greater sense of community connectivity and self-awareness.

The Canvass Project curriculum was inspired by the Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education, a teaching practice that provides students with hands-on opportunities to explore and understand the arts through “imaginative and experiential learning”. Three Springboard to Learning staff were trained in this method last May in a week-long training conducted by Eric Booth, Lincoln Center trainer, known throughout the country as the “father” of teaching artistry. The approach begins with each student’s innate ability to respond to works of art – visual and performing – and invites them to challenge preconceived notions of what they see and understand – a skill that could transfer to the classroom and their daily lives.

The St. Louis Canvass Project is offered on one Saturday per month from October 2018-May 2019 through four host sites:

Beyond Housing, 6506 Wright Way in North County
Intersect Arts Center, 3636 Texas Avenue in South City
St. Louis ArtWorks, 5959 Delmar Blvd near the Delmar Loop
Jazz St. Louis, 3536 Washington Avenue in Grand Center

Two Springboard to Learning teaching artists have been hired to provide arts-based learning activities at each host site. These teaching artists are required to participate in the year-long St. Louis Teaching Artist Institute.

Students will arrive at their host site at 9 a.m. for arts-based learning until 10:30 a.m. At that time, teaching artists and students will board a bus to an “excursion site,” where the students will visit an arts or cultural destination for an experiential arts-based learning experience. During the experience the students will interact with staff from the excursion site and be provided lunch. The teaching artists and students will return to the host site  for reflection and to wrap up the day until students are dismissed at 3 p.m. Excursion Sites include the St. Louis Art Museum, Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis Arch Museum, Contemporary Art Museum, the St. Louis Symphony, and a performance by COCA dance and the COCA Hip-Hop Crew.

The TAI kicked off with a two-day intensive training last month with 26 teaching artists, eight of which were hired to provide their expertise as teaching artists for the St. Louis Canvass Project. Those artists will have the additional duties of planning and coordinating Excursion Site activities following each TAI session. This work included designing lessons and coordinating with the partner arts institutions. The inaugural Teaching Artist Institute will continue for one Saturday a month through May 2019. We are so excited to be a part of this three-year project and see it as a real opportunity to expand and grow the skills of our teaching artist pool, as well as deepen our impact on arts instruction throughout St. Louis.