The West Virginia University College of Creative Arts has received a $92,000 grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation to develop and initiate Summer Institutes for Teacher Education in the Arts (SITE in the Arts) for 2004 and 2005.

The summer programs for arts educators will improve and enhance K-12 instruction of the performing and visual arts in public and private schools in West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania.

I am thrilled that the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation will be a partner in this initiative,said College of Creative Arts Dean Bernie Schultz.This is the largest grant of this type in the history of the College of Creative Arts, and it will allow us, working with area teachers, to advance the quality of arts education in our region.

In addition to the Benedum Foundation, other partners involved with the College of Creative Arts in planning and implementing SITE in the Arts include the Community Foundation of Fayette County, Pa.; selected arts teachers currently practicing in K-12 education; and the departments of education in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

SITE in the Arts is a response to needs identified in a 2000 National Endowment for the Arts Survey called Arts Initiative for the Millennium (AIM). The survey assessed the professional development requirements of fine arts teachers in West Virginia and revealed ongoing needs for improved arts training for educators, as well as guidelines for the integration of technology in the arts classroom, and the establishment of models of student assessment for the arts.

The survey emphasized that the arts must become an educational priority at local, regional and national levels. William Winsor, associate dean of the College of Creative Arts, initiated the SITE in the Arts program, guided the grant application, and serves as principal investigator with the Benedum Foundation.

The departments of education in both West Virginia and Pennsylvania approved new student attainment standards for the arts in 2002 that are intended to result in improved student performance,Winsor said.We want to be able to assist teachers in meeting the needs of these students. SITE in the Arts will fulfill the mandates of the new student attainment requirements as well.

SITE in the Arts will enrich and nourish the teaching and practice of the arts through an intensive two-week curriculum and residential experience.

Teachers who take part in the program will be involved in workshops that provide fresh teaching strategies, renew current teaching methods and that teach innovative instructional techniques, particularly those that utilize technology designed specifically for the arts classroom. They also will learn ways to develop connections between the arts and other disciplines.

In another part of the program, participants will work on individual goals in their areas of concentration, including visual arts, theatre and music.

SITE for the Arts will be held at the Creative Arts Center and teaching personnel will include faculty members from the College of Creative Arts, as well as professional artists selected specifically to meet the goals of the program. Cyndi Conner-Bess, a faculty member in the WVU Division of Music, serves as the program coordinator.

Twenty teachers in each discipline will be accepted on a first-reply basis to participate annually and the program will be offered free of charge during the two-year implementation phase. Optional graduate credit at the participantsexpense also will be available through WVU .

After the term of the grant expires, it is expected that applicable enrollment and tuition fees will enable the program to become self-sufficient.

Schultz said the College of Creative Arts has had previous experience and success with similar summer programs. In 1992 and 1994, the College hosted two-week summer sessions for art and theatre teachers respectively. Both were funded by one-year, non-renewable WVU Special Initiative Grants.

Based on previous success, our plan is to create a program that we hope will serve as an adaptable model and format for similar teacher workshops across our country,Schultz said.

The grant was made in conjunction with the Building Greatness Campaign, which is being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University and has generated more than $262 million. The WVU Foundation is a private non-profit corporation that generates and provides support for West Virginia University.

The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation was established in 1944 by Michael and Sarah Benedum, both West Virginia natives, as a memorial to their only child, Claude, who died while serving in the First World War. The Foundation authorizes grants in West Virginia and Southwestern Pennsylvania in areas of economic development, education, health and human services, community development and the arts.