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Teaching Artists Program graduates share new skills with students

A group of TAP graduates, ready to help students with the methods they've learned.

May 07, 2019

Arizona State University students aren't the only ones to graduate beneath the ASU Gammage roof.

On April 22, 23 artists and teachers received their credentials to be certified teaching artists through ASU Gammage's Molly Blank Fund Teaching Artists Program (TAP).

TAP gives local artists and teachers the opportunity to learn how to implement artistic lesson plans into the classroom through the Kennedy Arts Integration Method.

The teaching artists who graduated all specialized in different artistic areas, including theater, music, storytelling, puppetry and visual arts.   

According to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, “Arts Integration is an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject area and meets evolving objectives in both.” 

“(The Kennedy Arts Integration method) has shown through research that it is effective in helping the kids retain what they learn and enjoy what they learn, said Desiree Ong, educational enrichment program manager for ASU Gammage.  

Not only are teachers and artists learning effective and innovative ways to teach students, but people from around the Valley can hire them to teach a lesson or lead a seminar. 

“We want to show the world that Phoenix has a thriving artist community,” Ong said. 

Hussein Mohamed, a graduate student at ASU, graduated from TAP with a focus in interdisciplinary arts and performance.   

“Now with the skills of this arts integration method, I can incorporate that into all of my international travels working with students,” Mohamed said. I feel I can be a lot more valuable as a future social worker, being able to teach certain lessons so that they can develop to their fullest potential or heal from any past traumas they might have had. 

Another graduate from TAP, Cheryl Mertz, has a background in teaching. Mertz spent her time in TAP focusing on theater, drama and storytelling.   

“There was a lot of growing within myself,” Mertz said. “I felt like a I came in with the education background piece, but definitely needed that artistry piece in order to help those students learn better in a more artful way.” 

Mertz said she is excited to watch more students grow through different methods of learning.   

"So many of our students struggle to tell what they know via paper and pencil, which is what testing is asking of them,” Mertz said. Through this program, I’m learning to help teachers understand that some of the most important skills can be better taught through art.” 

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