N. Charleston arts school hosts statewide conference

N. Charleston arts school hosts statewide conference
April 17 17:46 2018 Print This Article

North Charleston Creative Arts Elementary School (NCCAE), an arts infusion magnet school, hosted a statewide conference for schools using the Arts Basic Curriculum (ABC) on Tuesday. NCCAE is among 79 certified ABC schools in South Carolina. The schools utilize elements of art, music, drama and dance in teaching the core subject areas.

Nestled among new homes in the Park Circle area, NCCAE has been an arts infusion school since 2013. The enrollment is approaching 500 students and has experienced growth in recent years, as arts infusion has grown in popularity. In addition to the grade-level teachers from kindergarten to 5th grade, the school has specialty teachers in piano, strings, music, art, drama, physical education and dance. A strings group performed for the assembled teachers and administrators to kick off the conference. The Title 1 school also has a literacy coach and a parent advocate.

Principal Eric Hansen told the group that the arts had a big impact on him as a student. He was able to assemble a classroom teacher faculty which already had “buy-in” to the arts infusion model. The model is intended to foster creativity, critical thinking, self-discipline, work ethic and problem-solving skills, according to the state ABC website. Hansen established @NCCAElementary, a school Twitter page, to recognize student and faculty accomplishments on an almost daily basis, with photos included. The school has six Family Vision Night performances each year to encourage parents, grandparents and community members to see how the arts have impacted the students.

NCCAE is at the site of the former Berry Elementary building. Cathie Middleton, who now oversees all elementary schools in Charleston County School District, laid the groundwork for the new school in 2011 while the classrooms were all in trailers. An assistant principal at Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary in West Ashley at the time, Middleton was given the authority to help design the new school building. It has a very welcoming feel with its teal and orange color scheme. The logo of school mascot Hootie the Owl, designed by Middleton’s daughter, is seen throughout the school. Middleton and Hansen made a concerted effort to promote the school in front of North Charleston neighborhood associations, churches and civic groups.

The school has a partnership with the non-profit group Engaging Creative Minds (ECM). This year, the group helped the 3rd grade students produce a stage performance explaining economics. The 4th graders prepared a modeling exhibit of the solar system and the 5th grade students created computer graphics of geometric shapes accompanied by music. ECM leader Robin Berlinsky emphasized how these week-long arts experiences make learning more fun and more relevant to the students.