NAMPA -- As one of six ID21 Award winners, The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation is awarding Idaho Arts Charter with a $50,000 prize. The awards come after the 2011-2012 ED Sessions speaker series, and each award-winner exemplifies topics from the series.
The six schools are being awarded prize money after a months-long nomination and application process. The ID21 Awards recognize education programs that are sustainable, replicable and challenge assumptions about traditional learning methods.
Idaho Arts Charter is a public, low-income school (60% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch). Even with budget constraints, administrators and teachers say they have creatively stretched resources to make sure every student gets a unique and quality education.
Starting in elementary school, arts and technology are incorporated into every class, like drawing on smartboards for math lessons. High school students take specialized classes, like jazz band, choir, art, and dance.
"A lot of schools have dance teams and such, but we actually get to have a dance class where we get to experience ballet, jazz, and contemporary," student Nereida Rodriguez said.
The school brings in professional artists, like Grammy-award winning musicians, to help the students learn from the best. With many students from low-income families, exposing every student to top-rate art is another point of pride for the school's administration.
"They all get that hands-on work with those [professional artists] that that's their passion as adults, and what they've done with it as adults. And they get to see all of those things that they probably wouldn't get to any other way, sometimes because of their background," Principal and Director Jackie Collins said.
Student sing, paint, act, and dance in history and science classes too.
"Students take their academic classes and they take stand alone art classes, but in their academic classes, they're also doing arts based things," Collins said. "I mean if you're actually acting out the DNA process and going through it, you're going to remember that process versus just looking at it in a book and reading about it."
For the artistically-inclined, administrators say this method makes math easier for musicians and biology easier for ballerinas.
"If I'm having a hard time memorizing something, they're okay with me standing up and doing a movement to memorize how to spell it, or how to memorize a vocabulary word," student Patricia Fuentes said.
"It kind of comes instinctual I guess, without you even thinking about it," student Hannah Kepner said.
Collins' goal is for each of the roughly 750 students to go to college, and she says the small class sizes (around 60 per grade) makes that goal even more realistic. Students agree, and each high schooler who talked to KTVB said college was the plan.
"I do want to go to college. I want to study to be an anesthesiologist, but I'm thinking in majoring in music and also doing pre-med," Rodriguez said.
Ultimately, some of the students will be professional artists and others won't, but the creative skills, administrators say, transcend all career paths.
"Our goal is that we have students that walk away with an appreciation for the arts, that work well in groups. They are creative, they think outside the box," Collins said.
KTVB will feature all six award winners throughout the week online and each night during the News at 10:00.