Arts Integration Model School

Vision Statement

At Drew ES, students will collaboratively connect as an arts integration community to promote curricular achievement through inquiry, divergent thinking, and creativity; thus, developing an appreciation for the arts as they relate to critical life skills and experiences.

What is Arts Integration?

Simply put, arts integration is when there is a natural connection between the curriculum and the art form. The teacher teaches both the arts objective and the curriculum objective side by side enabling students to make connections between them and their real life world.

What does it mean to be an Arts Integration Model Elementary School (AIMS)?

Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary is one of three schools in Montgomery County Public Schools that was selected as part of a three year United States Department of Education grant for Arts Integration from 2003-2006. In 2008, the school received the prestigious Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts National Schools of Distinction in Arts Education Award. The school was one of five schools selected from across the nation to receive this honor. We are presently in our fifteenth year as an arts integration model school providing many exciting arts related opportunities for our students.

Drew Elementary has partnerships with many area arts organizations. These partnerships provide professional development for staff members and opportunities for our students to visit and participate in art forms outside of school. One partnership is with the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Changing Education Through the Arts (CETA) program. This unique program allows our principal to meet other administrators working in arts integration schools. The principals meet three or four times a year and learn about best practices and strategies for arts integration. Not only do the administrators participate, but staff members are provided professional development opportunities to learn new and interesting ways to integrate the arts into the curriculum thus impacting student learning as well.

Another partnership is with Towson University's, Arts Integration Institute, Towson, MD. Teachers participate in graduate level courses related to Arts Integration such as Drama in the Classroom and Enhancing Reading through the Arts. Teachers have the opportunity to practice what they learn and develop an action research project based on arts integration. At the end of their course work, they receive an 18 credit, Arts Integration Certificate.

In addition to outside organizations, teachers develop partnerships within the school and with visiting artists in residence. Students have the opportunity to work with artists, learning about their craft while enhancing their understanding of curriculum content through the arts.

  • Students in kindergarten participate in a program called, Creating Original Opera, exploring music and dance. 
  • Students in our school community based program participate in a drum circle with their friends in the general education program.
  • Students in third grade have a true Artist in Residence experience with a published Author/Illustrator. Before the students participate in a two day seminar, they spend time learning about the artist and reading his work. During the author's visit, he will be working with the students to create and illustrate a character which they use to write into their very own fiction story.  
  • The Arts Team also collaborate with the media specialist and the classroom teachers to develop project based learning experiences that engage students creatively as well. 
  • In fourth grade, students work with a playwright, learning the craft then developing their own original plays.  For 2 years in a row, at least one of their plays have been chosen and performed at local theaters, such as the Adventure's Theater at Glen Echo. This year they have been a part of Think Big Cafe, a collaborative pilot program with Glenstone and the Strathmore AMP Theater.
  • Grade Five students participate in a museum project.

What does this mean for our students?

Students are exposed to a variety of art styles and techniques including dance, movement, theater, music and visual arts. They learn about problem solving, use thinking skills and learn more in depth about each particular art form. Perhaps most important, they make connections between real life, the curriculum and the arts. Arts integration is integral to the School Improvement Plan and ties directly to developing critical thinking skills for student learning. Using a strategy called Artful Thinking, teachers use visual art as a way to engage students in thinking. The same skills used in observing and interpreting art are then applied to the subject or topic. The visual art allows students to express their ideas and thoughts through a neutral subject and provides an opportunity for students to see their thinking on paper, charts, post-itsĀ®, or graphic organizers. All teachers including Special Educators use Artful Thinking in their classrooms.

Peace Weaver's Wheel 5th Grade Class of 2004

kennedy center
Changing Education Through the Arts


see, think, wonder