Six public schools and one independent school in the Richmond region have won awards totaling $42,000 from Partners in the Arts, a program of the University of Richmond School of Professional and Continuing Studies.

The awards fund cross-curricular, thematic 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 carry out 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. PIA Awards support projects that use a wide range of art forms, including visual, performing and digital arts and creative writing, to teach the preK-12 curriculum. Projects are designed to make lasting changes in how the curriculum is taught and to build students’ 21st century skills, including innovation, collaboration and critical thinking.

Workshops at the 2012 Joan Oates Institute, held June 25-29 at the Modlin Center for the Arts, emphasized creativity, its importance to learning, and how teachers can ignite the creative process in themselves and their students. The institute is part of a University of Richmond course that can be taken for undergraduate or graduate credit and provides teachers with leading-edge theory and hand-on methods for using the arts across the curriculum. Projects developed by teachers at the Joan Oates Institute may form the basis for proposals submitted for PIA Awards, while award recipients for the coming year have the opportunity at the institute to refine their projects and closely plan their implementation.

The following schools have received awards from Partners in the Arts for 2012-2013.

Armstrong High School, Richmond, was awarded $7,500 for Not too far From Here: A Plein Air History of Richmond. Students will investigate the history of their neighborhoods and communities through guided tours, journaling, video and audio recording, and “open air” drawing and painting. The project brings together English, art, and Virginia history and government.

Pocahontas Elementary School, Powhatan, was awarded $7,600 for Come Tell Your Story: A Powhatan Perspective – Local History through Storytelling. Students will document family and community members’ life stories in writing and video as a way to increase understanding of cultural differences in Powhatan County. Subjects integrated through the project include social studies, music, visual arts, science, and language arts.

Miles Jerome Jones Elementary School, Richmond, was awarded $3,000 for a project called Dance by Design for pre-K and kindergarten students. The project uses creative movement related to monthly themes in the core curriculum, such as changing seasons, animals, and the five senses, to teach young children literacy and number skills. The project will bring together music, language arts, math and science.

Clover Hill High School, Chesterfield, was awarded $6,100 for The “Paths” Project, which combines English, history and visual arts to record the experiences of the community’s World War II veterans and their families. Tenth through twelfth graders will interpret these experiences in written and visual representations that will be shared in the Paths journal, both online and in print.

Laurel Meadow Elementary School, Hanover, was awarded $6,500 for Laurel Meadow’s Lion’s Den, a project that will allow students to write across the curriculum on topics such as the life processes of plants and animals and the cultures of Native Americans. Student will create hand-made books that will be placed in the “Lion’s Den,” the school library’s reading area, where students also will paint a mural.

The Steward School, independent, was awarded $5,000 for The Leonardo Project, which will allow students to create a digital database exploring photography’s relationship to the acquisition of scientific knowledge. The database will be a modern version of Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebooks, with students developing observational and analytical skills through their own photography and writing.

Mary Munford Elementary School, Richmond, was awarded $6,300 for Seasonal Gardens under the Sun, a project that integrates history, environmental science, language arts and visual arts. Students will visit gardens such as those at Maymont and the Wilton Plantation as well as historic sites in the region to create hand-made books of specimens, drawings, and journaling reflecting the changing seasons of the year and apply this knowledge to cultivating the school’s garden.