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WASD Art Department Named '2019 Outstanding Visual Arts Community' by PAEA

District Wide

September 23, 2019 | Awards & Celebrations

WASD Art Department Team Photo

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (SEPTEMBER 23, 2019) — The Williamsport Area School District art department has been recognized as a 2019 Outstanding Visual Arts Community from the Pennsylvania Art Education Association (PAEA) for its commitment to visual arts education.

Districts that receive this endorsement demonstrate the importance of their visual arts programs by meeting the following criteria:

  • Rigorous and inclusive programs: Arts programs demonstrate rigor using standards-based curriculum taught at every level by highly qualified and certified arts educators.
  • Highly accessible programs: Art programs are offered to all students at every level of education with a sustainable budget for the visual arts.
  • Highly visible programs: Schools and districts identify their programmatic accomplishments, curriculum for all levels, art staff, mission statements, and arts events using their school websites and social media.

“In the WASD, we are growing a connected community of creative individuals who have the artistic skills to self-express, take risks and cultivate positive change in the world,” said Dr. Andrea McDonough Varner, the district’s K-12 art department coordinator. “The PAEA distinction of Outstanding Visual Arts Community is one that our team accepts with pride and will continue to uphold on behalf of our students.”

Students at WASD celebrate the importance of a well-rounded education with opportunities to engage in arts education courses at all grade levels, McDonough Varner added.

Schools providing these opportunities equip students with visual literacy, according to PAEA. Visual literacy constitutes the new thinking and learning skills of a digital age and a creative economy. These are the types of cognitive skills young people will need to find their place in a globally competitive workforce.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that the arts and culture sector is a $699 billion industry, which represents 4.3 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product — a larger share of the economy than transportation and agriculture. The nonprofit arts industry alone generates $135 billion in economic activity annually (spending by organizations and their audiences) that supports 4.1 million jobs and generates $22.3 billion in government revenue, according to Americans for the Arts.

Technology innovations such as big data, data analytics, and visualization will simply increase the importance of visual and spatial learning skills.

“This recognition exemplifies the dedication of a highly committed team of art professionals who are passionate about serving the students of Williamsport,” said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Susan Bigger.  “The Williamsport Board of Education strongly believes in developing and nurturing the whole child through comprehensive curricula that allows students to excel academically and creatively through robust course offerings at all levels, K-12.”

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