The Midlands Arts Conservatory

Providing a Free, Public Education that Combines Arts and Academics

By: Shannon Boatwright

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Just one year ago, in January of 2016, I wrote this blog entry sharing news of a mission to bring an arts conservatory to Columbia, SC. With great zeal, I shared my support for this mission and why the arts are such a huge part of creating a quality, top notch education for the young minds of today.

“Amazing things happen and great knowledge is attained when the arts help to bring core school subjects to life. The joy of the arts is that they can be integrated into every subject. In a perfect educational world, every school would have a fine arts program and arts integration would be a part of every school’s curriculum. Students and teachers would only benefit; there are no negative aspects whatsoever, only the deepening of understanding. To those who recognize the benefits of, engage in and truly support the arts, bravo to you! And thank you.”
– Shannon Elizabeth Boatwright

I am thrilled to help announce that people have rallied behind the mission of the Midlands Arts Conservatory (MAC) and an outpouring of support is helping to make it a reality! Please help me continue to support the mission and share the progress of MAC. There are informational meetings being held this coming weekend that parents and families can attend to get all their questions answered. If you know of any student in the area with a passion for the arts, absolutely do not hesitate to share this info with them! For more details, please read the information below and share it in every way that you can. Let’s help make the arts shine so that young minds can be enriched, deeper understanding can be attained and creativity can thrive!

Arts Charter School to Open in Columbia:
Midlands Arts Conservatory

A committee of arts professionals, educators, parents and community members is moving forward with plans to open an arts charter school in Columbia. The Midlands Arts Conservatory (MAC) will have a focus on the visual arts, theater, dance and music.

mac-logo-squareThe school will hold two informational meetings for parents and the community: on Saturday, January 7th at the North Main branch of the Richland Public Library at 4:00pm, and on Sunday, January 8th in the second floor theatre at the main branch of the Richland Public Library at 3:00.

MAC will provide a free, public education that effectively combines arts and academics. The school plans to open in the Fall of 2017 with 6th and 7th grades, and will add a grade level each year, reaching 12th grade in 2022. The Midlands Arts Conservatory will be free for any South Carolina resident student in the appropriate grade level who has an interest in the arts and is willing to meet the high academic expectations of the school.

The school will be staffed with highly qualified arts and academic instructors in an environment that provides training, exposure and practical application in the arts and the integration of arts into the academics of the school. The student-teacher ratio in classes will be no higher than 20 to 1 and lower in specialized arts areas. MAC will have small group and individualized instruction in the arts with a wide spectrum of academic support available.

The MAC Planning Committee members understand the importance of a high-quality arts education for young people. They want to ensure that every child in the Midlands has the opportunity to experience the power of creative self-expression.

For more information, contact J Britt at (803)-630-1622 or (803)-630-1MAC; visit http://midlandsartsconservatory.org; or follow them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MidlandsArtsCon.

Realize This is the Real World

By: Shannon Boatwright

So there’s this video circulating on Facebook. It’s been out in the web world for over 6 years now. But it’s resurfaced, rightly so, since we’re in total back-to-school mode. I’d seen it before but I recently watched it again, getting a good chuckle. As a good, hardworking teacher, you certainly get the point of the video. Any school employee that deals with craziness from parents will get this video.

Sure, there are unworthy people out there in the education system who should not be granted the privilege of teaching or even be in the presence of students. Sadly, passionless, burnt out, sad sacks exist in the education world. Sometimes you just can’t avoid those types. But the truth is, they are far and few between. There are millions of truly passionate teachers and dedicated folks who do care so very much and try their hardest to do everything they can do to provide the best education for our children.

 

Watching this video again reminded me of the great privilege I have to inspire, educate and hopefully create outstanding, respectable, hardworking individuals that will contribute to society. All that said, as you watch the video and chuckle too, whether you’re a parent, grandparent, guardian or supporter of children and education in any form, please remember that all the weight does not fall on the shoulders of the teachers, administration or support staff. An enormous part of creating, building, and molding a successful student must come from a student’s support system at home AND must be met with an individual student’s own effort and dedication to doing their best.

Like the school voicemail message states, this is the REAL world and “your child must be accountable and responsible for his or her behavior, classwork, and homework.” The answer to why a particular student is failing at anything, may not be due to a teacher’s fault. Always stop to consider this and make sure that your student, your child, is making an honest effort.

My personal mantra for the new school year, as a passionate, Arts-loving Drama teacher, is one of Brendon Burchard’s many fabulous quotes,

“Grant me the strength to focus this week, to be mindful and present,to serve with excellence, to be a force of love.”

Here’s to a successful new school year that will hopefully produce a sea of inspired, educated, standing-ovation-worthy students that will move on to do great things in their lives that will make a positive difference in this crazed world of ours!  🙂

The Privilege of PACE…

By: Shannon Shull

I have discovered that our great state of South Carolina has really done something right with an amazing program called the Program of Alternative Certification for Educators (PACE). The program has been bringing incredible educators into the public school system since 1984, and is open to professionals who have graduated from college, worked within Teacher Quotethe workforce and have a passion for teaching. But it is NO easy task to get accepted into this prestigious program. Applicants have to meet very high standards and pass certification tests. Once an applicant has met all the requirements and been accepted into the program, an applicant can be hired by any public school in South Carolina. When hired by a school, the applicant signs a three year contract, continuing to train and work toward gaining their teacher certification while teaching in the classroom. It is an incredibly intense program – a program in which I can vouch for because I have the honor of being a part of it!

There are so many of us passionate educators out there in every field you could imagine, who all share a love for teaching but never received a degree in education. So this program is a fabulous way for highly qualified people to get paid to teach as they are getting their teacher certification.

I am incredibly honored to be a PACE teacher. When I attended Winthrop University, I started out as a theatre education major, but the performance major was more attractive to the_influence_of_a_good_teacher_me at the time. In terms of scheduling, I could not fit in the theatre and dance departments with the performance that I so desired AND all the education major requirements. So, at the time, I chose the theatre and dance performance focus. After working in the entertainment business in Los Angeles for ten years, teaching privately and doing arts integration in the public schools here in South Carolina, my passion for teaching led me to the PACE program.

I recently survived the first INTENSE pre-certification training at the end of July. Two full weeks – ten days, 8am to 5pm, every day full of priceless education training. We were taught everything an incredible, willing teacher needs to know in order to be the best teacher they can be. The training was so intense, it literally felt like a college education degree crammed into two weeks. Daily assessments, assignments and lesson plans kept many of us up into the wee hours of the night. One night I was up until 2am working and then back up at 5am to get back at the work before heading to the training. The program is very strict  – and rightly so, because it will certainly weed out anyone not suited for or willing to be the best teacher they can be. Participants were scored on all assessments and assignments. I was determined to do my absolute best and am very proud to say that I achieved an almost perfect score.

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” — Albert Einstein

Teacher QuotesI take the role of teacher very seriously and consider it a great privilege to be in this amazing position to inspire and educate our young people. This year will mark my first full time teaching gig at a public school – I am honored to say that I am teaching drama at Chapin Middle School this year. I could not be more thrilled! And I have the SC PACE Program to thank.

For more information about PACE, check out their website: http://ed.sc.gov/agency/se/Educator-Services/Alt-Licensure/pace/.

Though the program is demanding and intense, South Carolina is doing its young students a great service by giving professionals with a passion for teaching the opportunity to educate within our public schools.

“Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” –William Butler Yeats

Teachers are true gems of society and bare a great responsibility. As I begin my journey into the world of teaching in the public schools, my respect for this priceless profession is boundless!

Vote for Dr. Epps in Dancing with the Stars, Lexington

It takes two to tango, and Dr. Epps is cutting a rug for Lexington Medical Center in the Dancing with the Stars, Lexington competition on April 22, at the Koger Center.

Dr. Amy Epps, a cardiologist with Lexington Cardiology and a Lexington school graduate, is competing against 11 local celebrities in the event sponsored by Lexington School District 1 Education Foundation.

Each vote raises funds to support district programs and initiatives that are outside the scope of the district’s Annual Fund Budget, such as outfitting STEM Labs at Lexington 1 schools, equipping media centers with up-to-date technology and supporting professional development for teachers.

Dr. Epps has been training with professional dancers from Columbia’s Ballroom Company since early February, check out the video below:

Vote for Dr. Epps today!
www.dancingwiththestarslexington.com/vote.

Back to School

By: Katie Austin

It’s that time of year when summer is coming to a close, when daily routines consist of packing lunches, participating in after-school activities, and completing homework assignments.  Wasn’t it just yesterday that summer began? Where did the time go? Time flies when you are having fun, and it goes even faster as you get older.

I bet that when I mentioned school you thought I was talking about my son, Brandon, who is starting his senior year in high school. I will definitely take the opportunity to talk about him because I am so proud of all that he is accomplishing as he gets ready for his next chapter.  Actually, the student I am talking about was me! Yep – I am back in college as a part-time student at the University of South Carolina.  I can’t believe that I am once again a student who has homework assignments and tests.  I thought it was time to tackle another bucket list item – finishing my Computer Information Systems (CIS) degree.

Why go back to school? I want to finish what I started so many years ago.  I figure that if I can beat cancer, I can certainly finish my degree!  However, you don’t need cancer to motivate yourself to accomplish what is on your bucket list.  Pick one thing, make it a priority, tell yourself that you are important and that you can reach any goal you set as long as you continue to believe in yourself. Since I have a job, I can’t go back to school full-time, so I plan to take 2 or 3 classes a semester. I’ll keep chipping away at my dream of one day walking down the isle with my degree in hand. I will get there one day, and I will take it one step at a time until I reach the finish line.

This semester, I am taking 3 classes. I start my day at 5:00am, go to work, attend classes in the evenings, and get home between 8 and 9pm. One of my classes is Business Writing, which is every other Saturday starting at 9:00am and ending at 1:30pm.  I am sure many of you are thinking “Why take a class on Saturday?” For one, it is only every other Saturday and, most importantly, there are only 9 class days needed to complete the course. Despite homework, projects and the occasional quiz/test, it has been the easiest of my classes.

Are any of you back in school or taking classes outside of work?  Or are you tackling a different item from your bucket list?  Please share your story and your tips to stay motivated!

Wishing everyone a blessed day and hope to hear from you soon 🙂

School Is In … Almost!

By: Roshanda Pratt

A show of hands, how many parents are ready for school to start?  I apologize to my teacher friends who have heard all summer from weary parents.  I love my children. I love them when they are in school too!  The start of a new school year is always exciting.  Don’t you think so? This year my oldest will be in first grade.  Her siblings will be in 4th grade and 2k.  In anticipation for the upcoming year, here are my top ten reasons why school is cool! My second grade teacher would be proud of that line.

10. Who doesn’t like going shopping in a crowd fighting people for school supplies? (Insert sarcasm)

9. Tax Free Weekend. ’nuff said.

8. The “new” smell of pencils and backpacks.

7. Labeling school supplies. It is like tagging presents at Christmas.

6. Daytime activities like grown up shows, books and the alike.

5. Lunch dates with the husband… again without the children.

4. Mid afternoon naps. Ahh, with no interruptions!

3. Back to school commercials, especially those by Target.

2. Making my famous Peanut butter & Jelly sandwiches (insider)

1. And the number one reason why I love the start of a new school year…

The excitement of my children learning something new – and then “teaching” it to me.

What would you add to the list?  I hope you enjoy the final days of summer.  And I pray your children have a great start to the new school year!

Ro