As students at JCPS and surrounding districts are settling into the new school year, we are reflecting on memories of a summer filled with art at Cultural Pass Days, Waterfront Wednesdays, Shakespeare in the Park, and so much more!

Photo from the Elev8 Center ribbon cutting.

Back to School is a reminder of the critical role that art plays in learning. Art removes barriers to accessible learning by reinforcing motor skills, language development, decision-making tools, inventiveness, and by providing new ways to absorb information. Back-to-school time marks a significant turning point in our year – 5×5 and Teacher Arts Grants (TAG) opened earlier this month, providing opportunities for students in grades K-12 to experience art in and out of the classroom at no cost to them or their schools. This year, students at JCPS have even more opportunities to engage with art.

In April of 2022, Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) opened an Elev8 Student Learning Center, the first of three after-school centers the district plans to open. The mission of Elev8 is to prioritize academic success and create strong ties among families, students, schools, and communities.

“As we designed enrichment opportunities, we felt it was extremely important to provide experiences for students that they may not have had the opportunity to participate in previously. We also know that involvement with the arts is correlated with gains in reading, math, critical thinking, and verbal skills,” said Dr. Alicia Averette, Assistant Superintendent of Academic Support Programs and Special Populations for JCPS, “Arts programming allows students to connect with the world on a larger scale as well as their own culture. It also promotes a sense of belonging and stronger connection with school.”

Elev8 provides academic support for up to 250 students in grades K-12 who live in West Louisville. Students participating in Elev8 receive tutoring and hands-on learning in the areas of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math).

Louisville Jazz Initiative was an inaugural arts partner during Elev8’s launch this spring. During the 8-week session, students learned about the history of jazz and how it connects with their personal histories while they built confidence in their abilities as singers and musicians.

Chad O’Brien, Teaching Artist with the Louisville Jazz Initiative said, “The type of social and emotional lessons to be learned that go into making music, listening to music, etc. is totally different than any other pursuit that the students are experiencing in school.”

Fund for the Arts (FFTA) is proud to partner with JCPS to bring transformative arts in learning experiences to the Elev8 program. After a successful initial run in May and June of 2022, FFTA will continue this partnership with Elev8 centers, supporting many more talented teaching artists and providing arts experiences throughout the 2022-2023 school year.

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