Following an AiSC residency in her Hastings, Nebraska, classroom, Irina Erickon said, “Our students’ experience with Keri was remarkable. She has planted a seed for love of jazz at Longfellow. By bringing some French language and culture into her lessons, Keri has excited and inspired our students to study language and learn more about music and art.”
Jazz artist Keri Chryst is just one of the nearly 80 artists available to schools and nonprofits through the Nebraska Arts Council’s Artists in Schools & Communities Program Sponsor Grants. Together, these artists work with teachers to design activities that enhance educational programs and address learning standards or curricular goals.
African drummer and dancer Charles Ahovissi has been working with kids in Sidney, Nebraska, for years, teaching students African tradition and building their self-esteem along the way. According to North Elementary teacher Judy Roach, Mr. Ahovissi “met and exceeded his goals because students continued talking about what they had learned, even during recess and with their families… He was very supportive and encouraging to struggling students.”
In addition to teaching art technique, AiSC artists bring other important lessons to the classroom. Dorothy Harman, a teacher at Montclair Elementary, noted that percussionist Michael Fitzsimmons not only taught students about drumming and rhythm, but also how to listen to themselves and others and how to lead and follow.
All of these lessons and others culminate into experiences for children that might otherwise be missed in their education.
Ann Lawless of Completely KIDS in Omaha noted that many of the children in their program have limited exposure to arts and culture. “One of the reasons that Completely KIDS focuses on art exposure is because there are so many amazing learning and development opportunities embedded in the arts.” Of a recent residency with AiSC visual artist Kristin Pluhacek she noted, “All of the visitors that come to Completely KIDS will also get to view the Stairway Jungle and it will serve as a talking point about the importance of exposing underprivileged youth to the arts.”
Any Nebraska public or private school or nonprofit community organization is eligible to apply for an AiSC Program Sponsor Grant. Residencies must include 20 or more contact hours (activity time with participants) with the artist. Scheduled time may span a number of days, weeks or months.