The Haddonfield School District aims to move from a Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM)-based curriculum to a Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Arts (STEAM)-based approach in its educational philosophy. To this end, a special task force will explore ways in which the Arts can be utilized to: remove barriers to learning; increase interest in science, technology, engineering and math; build partnerships among school districts and maximize opportunities for students. According to experts and advocates of arts-based learning, the arts hold great potential to foster creativity and new ways of thinking that can help unleash STEM innovation.
In my role as superintendent I will lead a school district task force made up of district representatives from the arts, administration, students and parents, as well as potential community partners. This task force will, at a minimum, meet on a quarterly basis. The task force will discuss and analyze information collected to evaluate existing programs in an effort to identify ways to expand the arts into the curriculum, develop before-and/or-after school activities, partner with surrounding school districts, increase funding, and increase participation in the arts. I will also lead the evaluative component by developing surveys, conducting interviews and facilitating focus groups to provide viable and productive feedback.
The work of the task force in the 2016-17 school year will culminate with a report summarizing recommendations which will be presented to the Haddonfield Board of Education for implementation in the 2017-18 school year. This analytical report will also focus on an overall philosophy for implementing and expanding components and opportunities for performing arts programs within the schools. It will also recommend action steps incorporating topics such as diversity, cross-curricular initiatives like arts and engineering, community outreach and inclusion, along with student-centered productions of contemporary social issues and challenges of today’s society. The intended roll-out of actionable items will begin in grades 9-12 and expand to other grade levels in future years.
BY DR. RICHARD PERRY, SUPERINTENDENT, HADDONFIELD PUBLIC SCHOOLS