TROY - Based on a decade of exploratory, developmental and research work, the Bradford County Regional Arts Council and Bradford-Tioga Head Start established four "Research-Training Centers" with the mission of helping children ages birth to 5, especially those with disabilities, learn through the arts.
The centers also will establish teacher and artist partnerships to share tools, techniques and best practices in arts learning in the early childhood classroom.
Talisman Energy has donated $5,000 to help fund the 2010-11 year for the Troy Center.
Last year, each Research-Training Center consisted of a Head Start teacher and arts council artist. Included centers were Troy Head Start with teacher Laura Steele and artist Rand Whipple (theatre); Canton Head Start with teacher Rosie Engel and artists Gail Jones (visual arts) and Fiona Powell (storytelling); Sayre Head Start with teacher Kate Place and artists Mary Knysh (music) and Fiona Powell (storytelling); and Wellsboro Head Start with teacher Mary Wickman and artists Vanessa Knause (dance/creative movement) and KJ Reimensnyder-Wagner (singer-songwriter).
These teams, with the aid of Head Start and Arts Council administrators, identified specific learning goals and objectives, and research projects to be pursued. Administrators scheduled professional development sessions for less experienced teachers, teaching assistants and artists.
Administrators, teachers and artists collaborated at the four Head Start centers to incorporate a predominantly arts-based approach to helping children achieve Head Start learning benchmarks. Multiple educational strategies were identified for helping young children - especially those with disabilities - learn. Parents were included wherever possible.
In the coming two years, mentoring and training for the teaching staff in the use of high-quality arts activities will allow them to help children reach early childhood learning goals and objectives. These efforts will begin at the Research Training Centers and move to the other centers throughout the two counties.
Year One of the program was a resounding success. A statement from the head teacher Laura Steele at the Troy Research-Training Center underlined that success.
"Through the partnership with Theatre Artist Rand Whipple, we involved students and parents in creating a stage," Steele said. "Through creative play-acting and Rand's training, children learned to express themselves, and several hesitant children really emerged and made spectacular strides."
Participants in this program learn so much more than just basic curriculum; they learn life skills and experience the power or creativity that the arts bring to us every day. Both organizations plan to continue the four centers in the coming year and to expand upon them by extending the training to even more early childhood teachers and artists.
The Talisman Energy donation, as part of their community support program, will empower the Troy Research-Training Center to ensure continued progress for the Troy children and an expanded training of more Head Start teachers.