NC Arts Council | Art Matters

Spring 2016

From the Director

Welcome to the inaugural issue of the A+ Schools Program e-newsletter, A+ Network News. The A+ team has pulled together news, resources and opportunities that I hope you'll find relevant, informative, useful and interesting.

This is our first edition, and with your input and suggestions, we hope it will continue to evolve. We plan to offer these e-newsletters at least twice a year, and we want you and your staff to have access to each one. Please click here and opt in so that you will continue to receive the e-newsletter each time it is released. We also hope each time you receive A+ Network News that you will forward the email and share it with your staff and community.

I hope you enjoy reading this first-ever A+ e-news and will let us know if you have any suggestions that would improve it.

Happy reading!

Small Hr


  • ESSA replaces the No Child Left Behind Act
  • The arts are included alongside math and language arts in its definition of a "well-rounded education."
  • This ensures that arts education programs (i.e., A+ Schools Program) and teachers are eligible to receive federal funds through provisions such as Title I, which supports disadvantaged students, and Title II, which supports teachers.
  • It includes funding for integrating arts into STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education (this is an area where A+ is currently working and partnering!)
  • Also included is a $20 million grant program for arts education known as the Assistance for Arts Education grant program.
  • In ESSA, the "core subject" language is dropped, and states are held responsible for a "well-rounded" education, which specifically includes the arts and music.
  • There is a little concern that some policymakers will read "arts" and "music" as "visual arts and music," neglecting other disciplines such as theater, dance and media arts.

What does all of this mean? Comprehensive arts education is gaining strength both locally and nationally and we need to think creatively about how we can continue to educate our constituents and raise the bar on how we look at arts education. A+ schools can certainly help to advocate based on their experiences and student successes.

Want to read more about ESSA?

Small Hr


The A+ Schools Program will welcome five new schools to the A+ Network this summer! Our new schools are:

  • Hickory Career and Arts Magnet High School in Hickory, N.C. (Catawba County)
  • Scotts Elementary School in Statesville, N.C. (Iredell County)
  • Yadkinville Elementary School in Yadkinville, N.C. (Yadkin County)
  • Dean P. Corey Academy of Fine Arts and Dual Language in Arlington, Texas
  • Jimmy and Laura Jones Academy of Fine Arts and Dual Language in Arlington, Texas

Our three new NC A+ schools will attend their first A+ Institute this summer (elementary schools in Raleigh and high school in Winston-Salem), and we will be sending a team of A+ Fellows to Texas in August to facilitate a 5-day Institute for our new Texas A+ schools.

Small Hr


This summer A+ is providing professional development at nine different sites for more than 850 educators from 31 schools! Here is where A+ will be in June, July and August:

  • June 7-9: Sioux City, Iowa
  • June 21-22: Mocksville, N.C. (Davie County)
  • July 11-15: Raleigh, N.C. (Wake County)
  • July 25-29: New Bern, N.C. (Craven County)
  • Aug. 1-5: Arlington, Texas
  • Aug. 8-9: Elk Park, N.C. (Avery County)
  • Aug. 10-12: Winston-Salem, N.C. (Forsyth County)
  • Aug. 11-12: Black Mountain, N.C. (Buncombe County)

We look forward to seeing many of you this summer! If your school was unable to attend an A+ conference this summer, A+ will be offering FREE professional development to our veteran schools in the fall of 2016. For more information, see the "A+ Opportunities" section of the newsletter below or contact Jennifer Huggins, Program Coordinator, at or (919) 807-6520.

Small Hr

A+ Opportunities


A+ elementary schools are invited to apply for a 2016 Crayola Leadership Grant. This grant opportunity is designed to support schools who want to increase school-wide creative capacity among teachers and offer creative experiences to all students. Each grant-winning school receives $2,500 and Crayola products valued at $1,000 and an opportunity to be highlighted in the Principal magazine supplement capturing best practices and success stories.

A+ schools are uniquely qualified to apply for these Crayola grants as much of what Crayola is seeking is already being done in most active A+ schools. Two A+ schools are past recipients of these grants, and we encourage more of you apply. If you need support or assistance, please contact Michelle Burrows, A+ Schools Program Director, at or at (919) 807-6503.

Applications are due June 20, 2016. Every early bird application submitted before midnight on Monday, June 6, will receive a Crayola product gift pack.

Visit Crayola's grant page to learn more and to submit an application.

Small Hr


We are excited about a new series of Global Arts Professional Development Modules available to all A+ educators, administrators and Fellows across the state and in our national A+ Network.

A+ Schools Program has partnered with VIF International Education to provide globally themed arts integrated professional development to teachers through the VIF Learning Center. The VIF Learning Center features professional development, digital badging, curricular resources and a social community of more than 16,000 educators from around the world.

As a result of this partnership, all A+ administrators and educators have access to the VIF Learning Center, which will provide access to the community, resources, lesson plans and professional development within the platform, including the A+ professional development modules.

Currently, Module 1: Bringing the Arts to Your Global Classroom is available online, and Modules 2 through 4, which focus on engaging, connecting and expanding through the use of global culture and the arts, will be available soon. For login information and access, please visit and see the listing for VIF International Education Learning Center.

Small Hr


In the fall of 2016, the A+ Schools Program will offer FREE professional development to veteran A+ schools (those schools beyond their first three years of implementation), who were unable to attend an A+ summer conference this year. Each free A+ PD is designed uniquely for your staff and will take into consideration your current needs and challenges around A+ implementation. If you would like to schedule a half-day PD for your staff, please check your 2016-17 calendars for potential PD dates and contact Jennifer Huggins, Program Coordinator, at or (919) 807-6520 to begin the planning. We are happy to be able to provide this opportunity thanks to recent legislative funding for the A+ Schools Program.

Small Hr

A+ Spotlight


A+ Fellows are the skilled practitioners who facilitate professional development for A+ schools and other A+ partners during our summer conferences and throughout the year. A+ Fellows are classroom teachers, administrators, professional artists and teaching artists — and all are experts in their fields. Learn more about two of our amazing A+ Fellows below.

Jan Adams, a dancer and educator, has been an A+ Fellow since 1995 when the program first started. In addition to being a public school educator for more than 20 years, Jan has also taught at N.C. School of the Arts, UNC Greensboro and performed with local, national and international dance companies. As a long-time Fellow with the A+ Schools Program, Jan believes that when students are allowed the opportunity to express their learning in an individual, creative way, that knowledge is locked in and becomes deeply personal. She currently teaches at The Arts Based School in Winston-Salem, an A+ school that is committed to this philosophy.

"I'm constantly inspired by other Fellows and the ever-growing network of students, families, faculties, artists and community participants who value the A+ Essentials that we laid out years ago as central tenets to a sound education," Jan stated when reflecting on her work.

Jan will work with several A+ schools this summer and "looks forward to reconnecting with many in our A+ family, and welcoming newcomers in North Carolina and across the country. The summer institutes offer an opportunity for schools to learn ways to make classrooms come alive with dynamic, creative energy, and to share best practices."

Peter Shanahan is a professional musician and teaching artist based in Winston-Salem and has been an A+ Fellow since 2012. As a professional flutist, Peter currently performs with the Winston-Salem Symphony and is a member of the Western Piedmont Symphony and Carolina Chamber Symphony. He is also on faculty at Radford University and the Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts.

When asked how his role as a Fellow has shaped his own work as an educator and musician, Peter shared, "Working within the A+ Schools Program has brought refreshment and inspiration to my work. I am constantly amazed at the creativity and diverse skill set of all the A+ Fellows. Thanks to my involvement with A+ and the connections made in the process, I am able to bring fresh and exciting ideas into my work with students of all ages."

Peter will facilitate numerous A+ conferences this summer: "My absolute favorite moment during summer conferences – and it happens at every A+ training – is reading the reflection forms of our teachers and coming upon a teacher that has an 'a-ha!' moment. It can be from a veteran teacher of 15 years reminded of the joy that can be found in education, or from a new teacher that feels the power of arts integration for the very first time."

Small Hr


Wendell Creative Arts and Science Magnet Elementary School in Wake County received the 2015 Elementary Magnet School of Merit Award from Magnet Schools of America. The recognition is one of five awards the organization gives annually, making Wendell Elementary currently the top elementary school among the 319 magnet schools that applied! Wendell Elementary has been an A+ school since 2009.

Principal Shane Barham credits the A+ Schools Program with helping his school achieve such success. "Over the past six years, we have used the A+ model to transform our school from a low-performing school to a school where all students are successful. We have used arts integration to help our students become more creative, better critical thinkers, more collaborative and effective communicators." Barham is also quick to point out that arts integration makes learning more fun and meaningful to his students. In addition to implementing strong arts integration at Wendell, teachers also incorporate Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences into their teaching, helping students learn in the ways they learn best. "Through our partnership with the A+ Network, we are preparing our students for college, careers and life in the 21st century," Barham stated.

As a veteran A+ school, Wendell regularly participates in A+ professional development, and Barham believes the ongoing professional development provided to his staff by A+ is key to the continued success and growth of Wendell Elementary. "The professional development provided to our staff is of the highest quality, and our staff has benefitted from whole-school and individualized training from A+. Our teachers would not be able to teach the way they teach without the ongoing PD provided by the A+ Schools Program. Our teachers have learned how to fully implement and integrate the arts into every subject area." Wendell also sends new teachers to the A+ New Teacher Training every fall: "They always leave the PD confident, excited and eager to implement what they have learned!"

In addition to receiving the Magnet Schools of America top honor, Shane Barham was also named one of eight regional Principals of the Year by Magnet Schools of America and a 2015 Principal of the Year finalist for Wake County. Congratulations to Wendell Creative Arts and Sciences Magnet Elementary — a great A+ school!