CCS teachers, students unite for arts leadership academy

Published 4:00 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2024

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As the arts in education continue to grow, Covington County Schools is hosting several teachers and students during the Fine Arts Leadership Academy at the central office this week.

Jordan Wood, a physics and chemistry teacher entering her seventh year at Straughn High School, is overseeing the program. There are 17 participants, six teachers and 11 students, attending the academy this year.

“We are focusing on the visual arts in various mediums such as charcoal, 3-D sculpting with everyday items, and acrylic. We have a lot of fun, exciting projects this week for our students and faculty to do,” Wood said. “The Fine Arts Leadership Academy is not only about art, but it will also give students the confidence and tools needed to become leaders and arts advocates within their own schools and communities. We encourage our students to work with others and collaborate while they lift one another up.”

Wood is serving as director for the first time after being a participant for two years. She named her favorite part of the event as seeing talent of students within the system.

“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to lead this academy following the years and foundations built by Tina Shiver and Jennifer Withrow who have guided and supported me. As a physics and chemistry teacher, I am learning more ways to integrate arts into my own classroom,” she said.

According to Wood, the content is mostly the same for both groups. Teachers can apply what they learn at their own schools.

“Students learn techniques and new mediums as well as some art history and background. The teachers leave with resources, links, and materials they can use in their subject area. We have history, English, special education, math, and science teachers learning how to integrate the arts into their lessons for our schools,” Wood said.

The academy features select guest artists who are also on hand to assist the participants.

“Everyone will gain arts instruction from very talented artists. Our teachers are taking away content and tools to further provide arts instruction and expression to the rest of Covington County students. The most important thing gained from the experience is confidence in the students and teachers,” Wood said.

Charlotte Walden, a broadcasting and digital design teacher entering her third year at Andalusia High School, is the week’s lead guest artist. She was previously an art teacher for nine years before her employment with AHS.

“Charlotte is not only talented but is also great at conveying instruction to our students and providing resources for our teachers to use in the classroom. Our students and teachers are producing phenomenal works of arts and gaining leadership skills along the way,” Wood said.

Walden has been involved with the academy for the last few years.

“Educators are able to get good resources and have fun professional development slightly different than the typical days prior to the school year. For our students, they are introduced to projects involving artists and different techniques. We are privileged to be to offer this program right here in Covington County,” Walden said.

The academy is open to any student enrolled in Covington County Schools.

“This is that creative outlet for the students and teachers. It gives them resources and lesson plans that will hopefully turn into a good enrichment during the school year. One of my former students Avont Anderson was our guest artist on Tuesday, and that made for a neat, full-circle moment. This is something I look forward to every summer as it allows me to brush the dust off some of my old lessons,” Walden added.

Wood expressed her gratitude to CCS superintendent Shannon Driver and board members for their support of the arts.

“We very much appreciate Mr. Driver and our board for allowing us to hold this event each year and showing their support. We’ve made tremendous progress opening up opportunities for students to excel in Covington County Schools. This academy is just one more example,” she said.

Straughn High School students attending the academy this year are Reagan Bartholomew, Bri Cowan, Lauri Glisson, Catherine Kime, Christian Pate, and Lauren Wood.

Pleasant Home School students are Judah Adams, Jack Foreman, Alex Scott, and Chris Scott.

Helen Pool of Red Level School is also participating.

Teachers attending are Taylor Gentz of Florala High School, Mickey Glisson, Cindy Martin, and Angela Sanders, all of Pleasant Home School, Carrie Kime of Straughn Elementary School, and Ramona Thomas of Straughn High School.

All 17 participants will go to Troy University this Friday for a field trip. Art from the academy will be displayed at the CCS Board of Education before the school year begins in August.

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