AUSTIN (KXAN) – As kids are getting ready to head back to class, Thursday night students and parents can check out a new concept for an elementary school in Austin.
The first fine arts academy just for elementary school students within AISD is set to open this fall at Blackshear Elementary School in east Austin and they are looking for additional students to transfer into the program.
Fine arts academies are not a new concepts at the middle and high school level but this is the first public elementary fine arts academy for AISD.
The idea behind creating it is to help kids foster an early appreciation for the arts.
In this setting students will be able to take dance lessons with professionals from Ballet Austin, musicians will come in to instruct on various instruments, Eastside Yoga will teach the art of yoga, there’s digital media, theater, and even cycling where the kids will work their way up to biking down to Lady Bird Lake.
How the day will run is students will have all of their regular classes including PE and music until 1:30 – the last two hours of the day is devoted to the fine arts.
That means two hours of instructional time in the classroom is being taken away. But the principal, Betty Jenkins, believes there’s plenty of research that shows teaching fine arts leads to better learners. Plus the school has been preparing for the change for the last two years.
“Making sure that we were still being successful academically even though our minutes are being reduced for the fine arts and therefore we started slowly,” said Betty Jenkins, Principal at Blackshear Elementary Fine Arts Academy. “We started giving up some of our academic minutes on Friday and then we started adding other programming.”
There is an open house Thursday night from 6 to 7:30p.m. at Blackshear Elementary School.
Seventy five spaces are open for students who would like to transfer into the program and there will be staff on hand to help parents with that transfer process if they choose.
The 225 students who track into Blackshear will automatically become a part of this program – although parents can transfer to another school if they choose.
“Sometimes you don’t know you don’t actually like something until you try it kind of like when you try new foods so therefore we give our students the opportunity for the experience,” said Jenkins.