Increasing Arts Education Through a Service Year

Posted by Robert Simmons III, EdD, Mar 14, 2018 0 comments

At Lighthouse Elementary in Queens, NY, the kids love to dance. They just never expected it to be tap dance.

That’s where ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow Crystal Simon comes in.

“When I told them no hip-hop dancing—they fought me tooth and nail. But once we actually put our shoes on and we actually started to make noise the kids’ face lit up! They were enjoying it. And they would even come to me in the halls and be like, ‘Ms. Simon! I’ve been practicing! I’ve been practicing!’”

ArtistYear is the first national service program dedicated to partnering with school districts to provide every underserved student in America with access to arts education through a year of national service.

ArtistYear trains and supports AmeriCorps members to serve as full-time teaching artists alongside established arts educators or classroom teachers in federally-designated Title I schools. These young people serve in schools across Philadelphia as well as in school districts in Roaring Fork Valley, Colorado, and Queens, New York City. ArtistYear is working to expand into more cities across the country.

Crystal, an actor and tap dancer, is an alumna of Ithaca College and the National Theatre Institute Program at Eugene O’Neill Theatre. She’s among 30 ArtistYear Fellows that serve our country by using art for social good. They spend their service years teaching dance, theatre, music, filmmaking, or art in schools where funding is lacking, exposing students to the arts who would otherwise miss out on arts education.

ArtistYear is one of many service year programs that allow young people to address specific challenges in communities. In addition to increasing arts education, service year opportunities are available across the country in a wide array of issue areas, including education, the environment, disaster relief, health care, and many more.

Service Year Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making a year of paid, full-time service—a service year—a common expectation and opportunity for all young Americans.

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