Six public schools in the Richmond region have won awards totaling more than $46,000 from Partners in the Arts, a program of the University of Richmond School of Continuing Studies.

The awards fund cross-curricular projects that use the arts to change the way core subjects such as history, math, and science are taught. The awards allow schools to bring in visiting artists to train teachers and work with students and to buy supplies to implement the projects.

Each year, Partners in the Arts (PIA) awards up to $10,000 each to schools in the greater Richmond area whose teachers develop competitive and sustainable arts integration projects.

While centered on traditional art forms such as painting, dance and music, PIA awards also support projects that employ technology and new media to integrate the arts in ways that increase 21st century skills, including innovation, collaboration, and critical thinking.

Workshops emphasizing these skills, as well as new media, were featured at the recent Joan Oates Institute for Partners in the Arts, held June 27 – July 1, 2011, at the Modlin Center for the Arts. Teachers from schools receiving awards attended the Oates Institute, increasing their capacity to expand the arts into all classrooms.

The following schools received awards from Partners in the Arts for 2011-2012.

Franklin Military Academy, Richmond, was awarded $8,965 for a project called Franklin Military Academy’s Walk through History Mural, a project for grades 6 through 11 that will use Virginia Studies and U.S. and World History to create a series of murals that “teach lessons about the human experience in living color.” Students will work with a visual artist to depict key moments in history, researching SOL-covered historical periods and cultural settings, and adding interactive features to share what they have learned with other students.

Linwood Holton Elementary, Richmond, received $6,200 for a project called Improvise, Innovate and Imagine! which integrates oral language and writing, science, music, visual arts, theater and physical education. The project offers Holton students in grades 3 through 5 a year of simultaneously experiencing the creative power of the arts in relation to core subjects for each grade. The teachers also benefit from professional development workshops with visiting artists, so that they will have new skills to use in their classrooms each year.

Albert Hill Middle, Richmond, was awarded $7,590 for a project called America Steps Out, a unique approach to learning U.S. history through the study and performance of dance as an expression of social mores, class, gender and race relations. Working with dancers and historians of popular culture, grade 6 and 7 students will study the American colonial period, the Reconstruction era, the early twentieth century, and the issues that shape contemporary American culture and lifestyles.

George Wythe High, Richmond, received $7,658 for a project called Historical Perspective and Storytelling Applied to Contemporary Art, involving 12th graders in the study of history, English, and the visual arts with a focus on the African American experience. Students will enhance their knowledge of U.S. history, politics and social movements through the study of literature, speeches, and art from key periods. They will keep sketchbooks to explore themes and visual imagery that can form the basis of murals they will create with a visiting artist.

Robious Middle, Chesterfield, was awarded $8,760 for a project called Keep Your Watershed Together… Be a Part of the Whole! Students in grades 6 through 8 will study math, science and visual arts and create a mosaic representing Virginia’s Watershed System. Building on the school’s Expeditionary Learning approach, the project will involve students in science fieldwork, examination of the natural world through drawing, painting and photography, and the application of math concepts to the design and creation of a mosaic reflecting the complexity as well as wholeness of the Virginia Watershed.

Powhatan Elementary, Powhatan, received $7,350 for Jack’s Garden, a project that will involve middle and high school students as well. Students will partner with older and younger grades to cultivate a flower and vegetable garden and create garden decorations, sculpture and artisanal crafts. These activities will intersect with the study of biology, family and consumer science, agriculture, welding, math, language arts, and physical education. The culminating event will be a creative movement/theatrical production telling the story of Jack’s Garden, a book by Henry Cole.