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Archives by Year: 2015

Success with STEAM

Arts are about experimentation. It is a process that looks at the familiar, then flips the perspective to reveal new thinking. Colors, shapes, and lines come together to create a desired or an unexpected result. Music and movement develop patterns and themes that challenge their surroundings. The freedom to think beyond a set structure creates authentic experiences through arts-infused education. And that critical, creative thinking is the basis of the STEM to STEAM movement.

It has been a mission of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) to change the conversation to add Art and Design to the national agenda of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education and research in America. The goal is to foster the true innovation that comes with combining the mind of a scientist or technologist with that of an artist or designer. Art and design education teaches the flexible thinking, risk-taking and creative problem solving skills needed to solve today’s most complex and pressing challenges±from healthcare to urban revitalization to global warming.

In an article for, Arts Integration Specialist Susan Riley wrote about the way that STEAM brings together the critical components of how and what, and laces them together with why. “Think of STEAM as teaching through integrated network hubs where information is curated, shared, explored and molded into new ways of seeing and being through collaborative risk taking and creativity. This means that students are using the skills and processes learned in science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics to think deeply, ask non-Googleable questions and solve problems.”

Educators are seeing a rise in student curriculum retention when the arts are part of the learning. That’s where Center for Arts-Inspired Learning’s experienced teaching artists are an essential aspect to the classroom. “It provides an authentic experience for learning,” said CAL Resident Teaching Artist Emma Parker. “The arts get kids up and out of chairs which energizes a different part of the brain. It takes the learning experience and makes it tangible.”

CAL artist collaborate with educators, using curriculum goals to find a new and different pathway in order to reach a broad section of learners. Developing these project-based strategies to tackle education engages students in ways to retain knowledge because they helped create their own learning. “When I go back into a school, students I had years earlier stop me in the hall to show me the dance moves we learned and tell me how it helps them with their subjects,” said Parker. “They are so excited to show me they remembered.”

Industries recognize there is no innovation without creativity. How can we keep challenging students and prepare for the needs of a 21st-Century landscape? Let’s start now with a creative present to spark their innovative futures.


Design Thinking Workshops, in partnership with the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt Institute, that prepare students for critical thinking, solutions-based learning.

Painting ratios and fractions by mixing paint and representing metrics through the visual changes in color.

Using dance and the force of the body to explore gravity in a combination of technology, science theory, and the movement of the human body.

Sound Science, taking a musical journey through the scientific concepts of how sound travels.

There are so many ways to integrate the arts into a rich learning experience. Talk to CAL’s Education Department to discuss the best ways to partner. View a sample of our programs or call 216.561.5005 to speak to one of our arts-integration experts.

Can the Arts Help a School Reach Its Full Potential

Franklin Elementary in Elyria Welcomes Teaching Artists Into Every Classroom

In the 2014-15 school year, Franklin Elementary in Elyria set many goals to build a stronger school. They want to increase depth of learning, test scores, student retention, and parental involvement. And they are using the arts to bring the school down the path to success. In a unique residency partnership, and with the support of a grant from The Stocker Foundation, all students are able to work directly with a Center for Arts-Inspired Learning teaching artist. CAL worked directly with teachers to find the best use for arts to underline their curriculum. Pre-K students used The Wiggle Jig program to improve kindergarten readiness by infusing movement and dance into other subject areas. Kindergarten, first and second grade students worked with the Arts for Learning-Between the Lions Residencies to engage in increased literacy development. Third-graders used the visual arts for a Marvelous Math Residency, creating a math-based mural that became a permanent fixture in the school. Fourth-graders used history lessons in a play celebrating the cultures that settled the state of Ohio. And fifth grade students worked in a Digital Filmmaking Residency to develop and film demonstration videos of various physical science concepts.

“Throughout the school year, the program really helped bring a lot of students out of their shells and parents were able to notice a difference in their students’ gross motor skills,” said Erin German, a PreK Teacher at Franklin Elementary. “Parents loved every extra support that we were able to give students last year.” All of this culminated in an evening of arts programming where adults and siblings participated in the same active learning and eager children could be the teachers for their families. And it was a night to showcase the new success and excitement at the school.

Arts Allow Freedom of Expression at Juvenile Justice Center

The arts are a powerful form of expression, especially for those most in need of channeling their hopes and strengths in new ways. For the first time in a long-term partnership with the Juvenile Justice Center of Cuyahoga County, CAL artists worked with the youth in their detention housing to engage in the arts in a way they have not been able to before. It opened possibilities to learn about themselves and for some, the opportunity to just be playful for the first time.

CAL artists designed projects that practiced discipline through percussion drumming, individual purpose through visual arts, drawing out and reflecting on personal experience through journaling, and creating trust through theater games. “Designing and creating a three-dimensional object can be a powerful force for change and growth,” said visual artist Kristen Cliffel. “Taking control of things that we are able to moves us forward and gives us purpose and meaning.”

Digital Storytelling Helps Students “Find A Voice”

Center for Arts-Inspired Learning’s partnership with Cleveland Metropolitan School District and the Ohio Arts Council gives platform for social issues

Immigration. Bullying. The importance of fathers. The dangers of taking the perfect selfie. Students are faced with a number of social issues that impact their lives, tap their curiosity, or make them examine their place in a larger world. But when do we ask young people their thoughts on what happens in their world?

This fall, Center for Arts-Inspired Learning asked those questions of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders from 12 schools across the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. The program, “Find a Voice,” used digital media to blend traditional storytelling techniques with modern technology to address local and global community needs. CAL teaching artists helped the students research and then weave together a social issue or autobiographical story into a two-to-three minute digital work with still and video images, music, narrative and voice, creating a cohesive and compelling multimedia presentation.

Experimenting with new forms of technology, the students learned how incorporating digital media adds impact and dimension to their stories. “I was really surprised at the maturity in the students,” said Jimmie Woody, a CAL Resident Teaching Artist who worked with several schools during the project. “They were choosing topics like human trafficking or telling stories from their lives and really putting their hearts into the process.”

Support for this program was generously provided by the Ohio Arts Council

WEDNESDAY, FEB 17 at 6pm

The red carpet rolls out at Cleveland State University’s Drinko Hall as one selection from each of the participating schools will be screened at a district-wide film festival. Open to the community, all are invited to see the world through the talented eyes of the next generation.

Three CMSD high schools take unique approaches to learning



When the Cleveland Metropolitan School District(CMSD) opened the Cleveland High School for Digital Arts in the 2014-15 school year, 15-year-old Marvin Watts took interest. “They told me I could write my own script,” he recalls. “It interested me because the school offers some classes you might not get until you go to college – like film – and I’m very interested in film.”
Not only did Watts get to write his movie script, he was able to direct, edit and turn it into an actual movie by the end of his ninth grade year. This year, as a 10thgrader, Watts is working on a new script while also concentrating on his core classes as part of a college prep curriculum.

The Cleveland High School for Digital Arts is one of three newer high schools in the CMSD, each offering a well-rounded basic education along with special tracks to cater to those students aspiring to go on to college upon graduation, study special interests – like Watts is – and develop critical thinking skills to make an impact in the world.

“The creation of schools like Digital Arts is a major goal of Cleveland’s Plan for Transforming Schools,” says Piet van Lier of the Cleveland Transformation Alliance. Passed by the state legislature in 2012, the Cleveland Plan seeks to provide quality options for all Cleveland children.

Digital Arts incorporates technology in arts, music and cinema around a core curriculum of college preparatory classes; Bard High School Early College allows students to earn an associate’s degree while earning their high school diplomas; and JFK E3agle Academy uses technology to master the skills needed for 21stCentury careers and college.

Some of the teachers at these schools share their perspectives on what these unique programs offer students in the CMSD.

Cleveland High School for the Digital Arts

Marsha Dobrzynski, executive director of the Center for Arts-Inspired Learningand Digital Arts advisory board chair, developed the vision for the school four years ago after watching students at the center creating a digital game about Egypt. What started as a game about modern-day Egypt and the Arab Spring eventually evolved into a game about ancient Egypt after the students began research for the game.

“Watching the way these kids became engaged in these art forms and taking a personal interest in learning I thought ‘why can’t we transfer learning from this program to high school,’” she recalls. “They were taking ownership over learning – researching their own content for the game.”

Dobrzynski researched similar schools around the country and presented her idea to the Gund Foundation and Cleveland Foundation. Both foundations funded the school’s start up and provided funding again this year through the CMSD. The school opened as a CMSD public school at 1440 Lakeside Avenue in July 2014.

“Our goal is to be a college preparatory school that uses digital media to be that hook,” says Dobrzynski. “So many young people need to make it relevant to them. It’s a different way to approach subject matter. They get to understand why they’re working on things too.”

Digital Arts runs on a year-round schedule, with four 10-week sessions and three-week breaks, and the school day spans an extended day schedule – going from 9am to 5:30pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and lets out at 3:30pm on Wednesdays and Fridays. Every student gets laptops that they can take home

The school began with ninth grade students in its inaugural year. This year, tenth grade was added. Eleventh and twelfth grades will be added in each of the next two years. “We have 160 kids this year,” says English teacher Jennifer Poland. “Our goal is 200.”

Poland came to Digital Arts in its first year to teach film and transitioned into English this year. The school’s academic structure is one in which all subjects interrelate to encourage project-based learning. “The students are coming here are choosing to explore the digital arts,” explains Poland. “The core curriculum implements the core subject around the digital arts.”

For instance, last year the students filmed a cooking competition show that incorporated what they were learning about the Revolutionary War in chemistry, math, social studies, English and history. “We used history to research the foods available during the Revolutionary War, using their chemistry knowledge to win extra ingredients and cook the food and writing research papers about the era,” says Poland. The students filmed the whole show, and each student edited his or her own version of the show.

Each school year is based on an “essential question.” This year’s question for ninth graders is “How does change happen?” Students are studying street drugs – the social impact of them in social studies, the chemical reactions on the body in science, and writing research papers on how drug consumption changes behavior and affects society in English.

“The goal is to make them see the relations,” says Poland. “Kids don’t care about research papers, but once you tie it in through their lives, they’re connected.”

Digital Arts uses a learning mastery approach, in which students study a subject until they have a full knowledge of it. There is no such things as a failing grade, students simply stay at it until they have mastered it.

Bard High School Early College

Bard High School Early College first opened last year before moving this year to its new home at 13501 Terminal Ave. The school focuses on a liberal arts curriculum. Upon graduation Bard students not only receive their high school diplomas, they also earn an associate in arts degree from Bard College.

The school opened to ninth graders and eleventh graders last year. By the time it reaches full enrollment, Bard will serve grades nine through 12. Eleventh and twelfth graders at Bard are known as “year ones” and “year twos,” respectively, because they are on track at that point to earn their college degrees.

There are currently 260 students, most of them in ninth and tenth grade, and of this year’s twelfth grade class about 18 will graduate with their associate’s degrees in May.

“It’s about access,” says Bard principal Dumaine Williams. “A lot of students don’t necessarily have access to liberal arts and college curriculums in high school.” It also alleviates some of the stress some students feel about paying for college.

That access also means developing a different way of thinking, Williams says. “It teaches critical thinking, providing a voice. It’s taking a look at your work and saying, ‘what do you think?’ It allows you to look at four years of high school productively and get the most out of it.”

Alan Mintz, a working artist with a 26-year record of teaching in CMSD schools and at the college level, teaches art at Bard. “The atmosphere we’re trying to create is that of a college campus, rather than a high school,” he says.

Mintz agrees that Bard teaches high school kids critical thinking skills. “It’s using the process to focus them and help them better understand what they’re learning,” he says. “It’s run very much like a college with seminars and intensive discussions.”

In teaching art, Mintz encourages his students to reflect on what they are doing, rather than just creating a piece of art.

After more than 20 years in teaching, Mintz says he’s happy with the formula at Bard. “I feel very fulfilled as teacher, and I’m working my tail off,” he says.

Bard students must go through an application process to attend the school. They must have a good GPA, write a creative, self-expression essay, interview with a faculty member or admissions counselor and provide a letter of recommendation. But admission is not strictly based on their academic record.

“Basically, what we’re looking for are students who have a strong passion for learning,” says Mintz.

JFK E3agle Academy

JFK E3agle Academy opened last school year to ninth grade students and this year houses ninth and tenth graders. The school uses computers to prepare students for today’s technology-driven world. The E3 in the school’s name stands for “Envision, Engage, Excel.”

Like Digital Arts, E3agle uses a mastery method to teach college preparatory classes and measure achievement. Rather than assign grades or fail a student who doesn’t complete the coursework satisfactorily, they simply keep at it until they have mastered it.

“We don’t give out Fs or Ds in mastery based learning,” says music teacher Aeneas Alldredge. “We have workshops for whatever they need help with. There’s good research that shows students learn at the mastery level and use it in everyday life. They have greater success.”

Ninth grader Isaac Eally, 14, says he prefers the seminars and workshops over traditional classroom learning. “It’s more advanced, more involved,” he says. “It’s interesting.”

Like Bard, the curriculum is designed to encourage critical thinking, active learning and leadership. E3agle also puts a technology spin on learning – every student gets a laptop. Classes are taught in the classroom and through an online curriculum.

“We’re trying to create a better balance of having students on the computer with the online curriculum as well as work in a regular more practical setting,” explains math teacher Louis Durbin, who has been with the school since it started. “The big thing we’re trying to create here is for students to be self-driven and motivated to watch over their own progress.”

Tenth grader Willie Parker, 15, was particularly attracted to the technology angle of E3agle’s model. “I like taking the computer home to work on most of the time,” he says. “I thought E3agle was a good chance for me to try something new.”

Tenth grader Joslainie Gonzales, 15, says she was intimidated by the new model when she enrolled at E3agle last year as a ninth grader. “At first it was a struggle, knowing how to use computers and online learning,” she recalls. “As soon as you get used to it you start catching up. Here, you do more with the computer but also even with the teachers. And it helps me to work at my own pace. If you need help with this, go to a teacher for help.”

Also like Digital Arts, E3agle operates on a year-round schedule of 10 weeks on, three weeks off. Teachers spend one of the off weeks each quarter on professional development.

Despite E3agle’s success, Durbin says they still have a long way to go. “As we’ve been changing students’ mindsets we’re also changing what we see happening in our schools,” he says. “By no means is anyone satisfied. This is a group who care and has high expectations. We’ve made great improvements, but we are nowhere near where we want to be yet.”

New schools driven by the Cleveland Plan

These high schools are too new to be rated by the Transformation Alliance, tasked by the state with assessing all public schools in Cleveland on its website and in its printed School Quality Guide.

“New schools like Digital Arts, E3agle, and Bard are very exciting in the context of the Cleveland Plan because they provide new opportunities for Cleveland families, quality options that can help guide students on the path to career and college,” says the Alliance’s van Lier.


Teen arts-based jobs training program has hired over 1,000 students for unique, inspiring experience

Free performance & CELEBRATION

Tuesday, AUG 4, 6pm at TRI-C METRO CAMPUS

Main Stage Theater, 2900 Community College Ave, CLE, OH 44115

Cleveland, OH (July 31, 2015)—Center for Arts-Inspired Learning’s student apprenticeship program uses the arts to prepare students for 21st-century success.

On their first day of work as ArtWorks apprentices, new students enter a room filled with strangers, artists, and goals—learn to work with other students from across Northeast Ohio to create new art. On the last day they leave inspired to pursue bold ambitions.

ArtWorks has employed 1,313 high school students from 69 Northeast Ohio schools in paid, arts-based apprenticeships that develop artistic expertise and cultivate core competences. By equipping students from diverse backgrounds with skills that are vital to educational and professional success—ingenuity, critical thinking, creative problem-solving, responsibility, project planning and management, communication, collaboration, and leadership—the program prepares for success in the 21st-century classroom and beyond.

Now in its 10th year, ArtWorks has grown in response to demand. Started by Marsha Dobrzynski and Deborah Ratner in 2005, the program began as a two-week pilot serving 50 teens under a tent in Shaker Square. It has expanded into a year-round program that engages a dozen partners in serving over 200 youth each year. Recent co-op offerings include dance, fashion design, recording arts, digital game design, photography, performance poetry, animation, and film.

Apprentices develop self-confidence through a variety of challenges, completing service-based projects, and hosting performances. Students participate in workshops with community partners focusing on financial literacy, resume writing, interviewing skills, and college admissions and financial aid processes. Presentations by guest speakers increase awareness of career opportunities and ways in which skills developed through arts education are valuable in a variety of professional settings. Apprentices leave the program with portfolios to use when applying for educational and employment opportunities—and ready to see a future of opportunity.

About the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning

The Center for Arts-Inspired Learning (formerly Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio) enriches the lives of children and promotes creative learning by uniting arts and education.  Organized in 1953, the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning is the only multi-arts resource for schools and communities in the region  whose primary purpose is to make learning through the arts an essential part of young people’s education. Programs take place in public, private, and parochial schools as well as libraries, hospitals and other civic spaces, reaching nearly 220,000 young people each year. For more information visit


Actor Matthew Lillard, Director Stephen Belber in Cleveland for Film Screening of MATCH—to Benefit Center for Arts-Inspired Learning

Film’s actor and writer/director will join producer Matt Ratner for a Q+A following screening on January 31

Cleveland, OH (January 13, 2015)—Center for Arts-Inspired Learning (formerly Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio) welcomes a special screening of Match, a new film based on the Tony-nominated play of the same name, on Saturday, January 31 at 4pm at Cleveland’s Cedar Lee Theatre. An in-person Q+A will immediately follow the screening with actor Matthew Lillard, writer/director Stephen Belber, and producer and Shaker Heights native Matt Ratner. Proceeds from this screening will benefit Center for Arts-Inspired Learning’s mission to integrate arts into the education of Northeast Ohio students.   

The film, which debuted this spring at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, stars Lillard, Patrick Stewart, and Carla Gugino. Stewart plays Tobi Powell, a beloved and aging Juilliard dance professor now leading a semi-hermitic life. As he is interviewed by a woman and her husband (Gugino and Lillard) for a dissertation on the history of dance in 1960s New York, it becomes increasingly clear that there are ulterior motives to the couple’s visit. Tribeca said “director Stephen Belber weaves effortlessly between riotous wit and delicate poignancy, unraveling the story of three people forced to confront ideas of responsibility, artistic commitment, and love.” The film will be released nationally on January 14, 2015.

Tickets for this benefit screening are $20 and are available online at

Produced by David Permut, Matt Ratner, and Rick Rosenthal

Written by Stephen Belber

Starring Patrick Stewart, Carla Gugino, and Matthew Lillard

Cinematography Luke Geissbuhler; Edited by Madeleine Gavin

Production by Permut Presentations, Sentinel Pictures, Tilted Windmill Productions, and Whitewater Films

Distributed by IFC Films

About Writer/Director Stephen Belber

Stephen Belber is an American playwright, screenwriter, and film director. He was born in Washington, D.C., attended Trinity College in Connecticut and the playwriting program at The Julliard School. Amongst his award-winning theater credits, Belber also wrote the screenplay for the 2001 film adaptation of his play, Tape, directed by Richard Linklater. Belber made his Broadway debut in 2004 with his play Match. He also directed the feature film, Management (2008), starring Jennifer Aniston and Steve Zahn.

About Actor Matthew Lillard

Matthew Lillard is an American actor, film director, and producer. He was born in Lansing, MI and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He is known for roles in the films Serial Mom, Hackers, Scream, She’s All That, The Descendants, and Trouble with the Curve. Lilliard has also founded various theater groups.

About Producer Matt Ratner

Shaker Heights native Matt Ratner is an American producer. His other Producer credits include War Story (2014) with Catherine Keener and Ben Kingsley, and the 2015 releases Still Punching the Clown with Henry Phillips and J.K. Simmons and Band of Robbers with Kyle Gallner and Hannibal Buress, and Executive Producer of Manson Family Vacation (2015) starring Jay Duplass.

About the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning

The Center for Arts-Inspired Learning (formerly Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio) enriches the lives of children and promotes creative learning by uniting arts and education. Organized in 1953, the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning is the only multi-arts resource for schools and communities in the region  whose primary purpose is to make learning through the arts an essential part of young people’s education. Programs take place in public, private and parochial schools as well as libraries, hospitals and other civic spaces, reaching nearly 220,000 young people each year. For more information visit  ###