DiAE has made arts education accessible in Delaware for 40 years

Photos courtesy of DiAE

The Delaware Institute for Arts in Education is celebrating 40 years of bringing the arts into the classroom, and not just during art class.

Art and creativity are among the most important educational tools for many students. The arts encourage children to reframe concepts in a way that is unique to them rather than simply memorizing and repeating information. Creativity supports self-expression in the learning process, which is vital for some students to grasp and retain difficult concepts. Too often, the arts are only accessible in wealthy school districts, leaving underfunded schools without the programs kids need to cultivate a love of creativity.

Locally, the Delaware Institute for Arts in Education (DiAE) strives to integrate the arts into all aspects of learning in First State schools. The organization’s signature SPOTLIGHT event will celebrate DiAE’s 40th anniversary on September 21 at the Blue Ball Barn in Wilmington.

What is DiAE?

DiAE was founded in 1982 by University of Delaware professor Larry Peterson. The organization has attracted teacher artists from Philadelphia, New York, and the University of Delaware to work in classrooms across the state.

Today, Artistic Director Ashley Davis describes DiAE as an organization focused on arts-based education.

“The goal is to serve teachers across the state by finding methods and resources they can use to implement arts integration strategies in their classroom,” she says.

This is especially important for underfunded schools without funding for many arts education programs. DiAE uses arts residency programs to send “teacher artists” to K-12 schools to partner with teachers. Through these programs, teachers incorporate the arts into their lesson plans for any subject.

“Aesthetic education and arts integration is really a meeting between our team and teachers,” says AT Moffett, Executive Director of DiAE.

This meeting of minds can be a beautiful thing. Many excellent lesson plans have come out of artistic residency programs. A remarkable project comes from a French class in middle school. The French teacher worked with teacher-artist Yolanda Chetwynd to create a graphic novel project in which students learned about the process of creating a graphic novel. They then asked the students to create their own six-panel comic strip, entirely in French. Through this form of integrated learning, students practiced their French vocabulary while cultivating their creativity.

This relationship is beneficial for all parties involved. Students cultivate their creativity and have a new opportunity to learn. Teaching artists have a source of income through DiAE so they can create and teach art as a career. Teachers are also getting extra support in the classroom during a time of massive teacher shortages.

“Our teachers are being asked to do so many things right now,” Moffett says. “We see ourselves as supporting what is already in motion; complementing, amplifying and enhancing what they do.

What else does DiAE offer?

Along with the K-12 Art Residency Program, DiAE also offers the Delaware WolfTrap Program for Early Childhood Education (Pre-K and Kindergarten). Between K-12 and early education programs, DiAE is responsible for over 35 artistic residencies each year. The organization has helped more than 150,000 Delaware students cultivate a love of art and creativity, with that number growing every year.

DiAE also runs professional development programs to help teachers implement arts education strategies in their classrooms. These programs come in a variety of formats to meet the needs of different schools. From 90-minute virtual options to more involved comprehensive summer programs, professional development programs help school staff broaden and deepen their practice of integrating the arts with hands-on workshops.

SPOTLIGHT on the event and contact details

diaeThe SPOTLIGHT event at the Blue Ball Barn in Wilmington is a great place to learn more about DiAE and its signature fundraising event, which will feature Slam Poet Gayle Danley. The evening will also include hands-on demonstrations with teaching artists and a panel discussion with founder Dr. Larry Peterson. Administrators, teachers or arts education enthusiasts are invited to purchase tickets to celebrate the past 40 years and help cultivate a future for arts education in the First State.

Teachers and administrators interested in DiAE’s services can complete the online contact form or email Executive Director AT Moffett ([email protected]) or Artistic Director Ashley SK Davis ([email protected] ). Artists interested in learning more about becoming teacher artists with DiAE are also encouraged to contact us.

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