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PAEA Names WASD a '2023 Outstanding Visual Arts Community'

District Wide

October 10, 2023 | Awards & Celebrations

The art department faculty members stand in a group.

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (OCTOBER 10, 2023) — The Williamsport Area School District has been recognized as a 2023 Outstanding Visual Arts Community from the Pennsylvania Art Education Association (PAEA) for its commitment to visual arts education.

This is the fourth time the district has received the designation since 2019.

Districts that receive the 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.

“Being recognized, once again, as an Outstanding Visual Arts Community is a testament to the love and dedication that our team of artist educators pours into their work each day,” said Dr. Andrea McDonough, this district’s K-12 art department coordinator. “From the abundance of smiles that fill the primary art classrooms to the determined focus of our college-bound senior artists in the high school studio spaces, it’s clear that we have something special here at WASD.” 

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.

“We’re incredibly proud of our teachers and this accomplishment,” said Kristin Takach, secondary curriculum and K-12 unified arts supervisor. “Our students benefit from the art curriculum as well as the endeavor of being creative across all academic areas. We’re grateful and fortunate to have such a talented group of talented and dedicated art educators. In addition to spaces in our buildings, locations throughout the community have been positively impacted by their work, which speaks to the quality of our art department faculty.”


Above are members of the WASD art department team. From left: Sandy Corson, Jackson Primary; Lori Moore, Hepburn-Lycoming Primary; Chelsea Cramer, Cochran Primary; Julie Hammond, Lycoming Valley Intermediate; Emily Armstrong, WAHS; Laurel Denham, Curtin Intermediate; and Dr. Andrea McDonough, WAHS. Missing: Kevin Werner, WAHS; Josh Larson, WAHS; and Carrie Bosh, WAMS. 

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