WASHINGTON, Aug. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- With government and business leaders now emphasizing creativity as an essential 21st century skill for every student, Crayola is launching an initiative to inspire creativity in the next generation of Edisons, Armstrongs and Zuckerbergs.
Crayola has teamed up with the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the National Art Education Association (NAEA) and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) to create the "Champion Creatively Alive Children" program. The professional development program emphasizes creativity as a 21st century skill and addresses the need for arts-infused education in schools. It empowers art teachers to become the "chief creative officers" in their schools and ensures that principals have the tools to lead their faculty to develop the originality in every child.
The U.S. Department of Education is hosting a professional development event based on this program at its national headquarters to put Department staff, who work on behalf of students every day, in touch with teachers and principals, their counterparts in the classroom. All participants, including principals and teachers from the Northeast, were told "don't come as you are, come as you were" with a child-like spirit. Hands-on activities led by Cheri Sterman, Crayola Director of Education and Child Development, will draw out each participant's creativity to show how art activities build critical thinking and collaboration skills in students.
"We're hosting this event today because Secretary Duncan and the Department recognize the importance of integrating the arts into teaching and learning from cradle to career," said Suzanne Immerman, Director of Strategic Partnerships for the U.S. Department of Education. "Our students today really need more than knowledge and skills to succeed. They need ingenuity and imagination, and arts education is the ideal way to infuse creativity and critical thinking in their efforts to be productive citizens in a global workforce."
At the session, Rachel Goslins, Executive Director of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, will present key findings from the Committee's newly-released report, "Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America's Future Through Creative Schools." She will emphasize the critical role arts education plays in closing the achievement gap and building students' innovative thinking skills.
"Creativity and innovative thinking are essential skills for success in school and in the 21st century workforce," said Ms. Goslins. "It is not enough merely to graduate more students from school; we must engage and inspire them while they are there, and prepare them for successful careers afterwards. All of our research points to the power of the arts in schools to increase academic achievement in reading and math, engage more students in learning and build creative thinking skills. Programs like "Champion Creatively Alive Children" are crucial in giving principals and teachers the tools they need to ignite the potential in all of their students."
Other education thought leaders who will present include: Suzanne Immerman, Director of Strategic Partnership for the U.S. Department of Education, Gail Connelly, Executive Director of NAESP, Deborah Reeve, Executive Director of NAEA, Tim Magner, Executive Director of P21, and Victoria Lozano, Vice President of Crayola. Sharon Hartley, Crayola Executive Vice President, will deliver 36 pieces of children's artwork to be on permanent display at the Department of Education. The artwork was inspired by children's vision of the theme "what creativity means to me."
"Creativity is a skill that every child needs," said Mike Perry, Crayola President and Chief Executive Officer. "We started this program asking ourselves 'What if every principal and teacher championed creatively alive children in their schools?' Imagine how ready these children will be to face 21st century challenges with a strong foundation in creative thinking."
The "Champion Creatively Alive Children" professional development program includes videos showcasing how arts-infused education builds the 4Cs – critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, communication. A fifth video devoted to arts-infused education advocacy helps art teachers become the chief creative officer in their schools. Each video tells the story of a school that was awarded one of 20 "Champion Creatively Alive Children" mini-grants from Crayola and NAESP for the innovative ways they are integrating art across the curriculum. Five facilitator guides accompany the video series to enable principals and teachers to lead workshops and staff and parents' meetings around art as a way to building 21st century skills. The entire series is available at no charge on Crayola.com.