the Superintendent’s Seat:
Integrating Arts into the Curriculum
by Dr. Carole G. Hankin with Randi T. Sachs
I heard that this issue of Education Update would be focusing
on arts in education, I was so proud. This past spring, Syosset
Schools received two national awards in recognition of our arts
in education programs. The Magna Award was given us by the National
School Boards Association, and the Kennedy Center Alliance for
Arts Education Award of Excellence named our district as the
number one in the country for arts education.
The award committees gave us numerous reasons why we were chosen
for the awards. They cited many examples of the program opportunities
we provide for our students, but they all have two factors in
common: One, the arts are integrated into all facets of student
curriculum, in every grade, in every possible way. Two, we teach
our students by helping them to appreciate the finest art and
music and to experience them in a firsthand learning environment.
Over the past five or so years, we have developed partnerships
with a number of fine cultural institutions in New York City.
Our high school students learn opera from the same coaches who
train the singers at the
Metropolitan and then they perform on stage with these talented
Our middle school students enter the witty world of Gilbert
and Sullivan through a partnership with the New York Gilbert
and Sullivan Players, and also perform on stage in a full-scale
production with the professionals.
Elementary, middle school, and high school students learn about
art through visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the
Museum of Modern Art. What makes these visits unique is that
their own teachers receive training from museum educators on
how to use the art they will see in the museums in lessons that
are integrated into their classroom curriculum.
It has been said that art is not just a part of life, but that
art is what makes life worth living. It is our mission to give
our students a lifelong appreciation of the arts so that they
may enrich their own lives in many ways.
We have been very fortunate to have an extremely supportive
Board of Education—the best in the country—and community
of parents who also understand the important role that the arts
play in providing a full education to our students. In addition,
in all of our district’s ten schools, we have had the
complete cooperation of administrators, faculty members, and
staff. Together, we have made the arts—music, theater,
visual arts, dance, video—an integral part of the student’s
curriculum, and we have all benefited from this.
The question is not how much arts education should we provide
for our students, but how much arts education CAN we provide
for our students?
In Syosset, we have found that our students will embrace every
opportunity to learn and experience fine quality arts and cultural
programs. This should be a priority for all schools.#
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