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Museum, school redesign art education for area students

By Christina Lane
Jan. 13, 2013 at 5:24 a.m.

Longview Museum of Fine Arts is bringing art education back into Pine Tree schools.

Through a partnership between the museum and district, representatives from LMFA go to the intermediate and primary schools on a regular basis to provide arts education.

"Art teaches them confidence," said Ann Werline, the museum's children's education director.

"It allows them to discover things about themselves quickly," she said.

Pine Tree Intermediate School Assistant Principal Shannon Hennigan said the partnership formed after the Parent Teacher Association wanted to bring back art classes. Fine arts funding was among programs slashed two years ago by the state legislature.

"Art is usually one of the first things to be cut, honestly," Hennigan said. "But, it's so important. We want kids today to have the opportunity to learn the things we learned about when we were kids. They've been learning about things like symmetry and primary colors."

The idea helped the intermediate school find a time to coordinate its 18 third-grade teachers, she said. Pine Tree Intermediate School has about 350 third-graders in 18 self-contained classrooms, which means each teacher is responsible for educating the children in all of the core subjects.

"We're able to have all 18 third-grade teachers meet and plan while the kids are divvied up between music, P.E., the computer lab and now art," Hennigan said.

The PTA helped with the partnership so the school didn't have to budget funds for LMFA staff to come to the campus, she added.

"I know that if we didn't have Ann here, we wouldn't have an organized art activity for our students," Hennigan said.

It also allowed Werline, a former third-grade teacher, to get back into a school. She wants to see the program expand, possibly with retired educators who want to volunteer taking the reins and preparing lessons.

"Art flows to every aspect of teaching," Werline said. "You can use art as a way to make learning fun in every subject - even in math."



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