Asher among rural school districts receiving Art Tech grants

Special to the News-Star
arts and crafts supplies including paints and brushes

Eleven rural Oklahoma school districts, including Asher Public Schools in Pottawatomie County, have been selected to receive a new innovative fine arts program for the 2021-22 school year. 

Oklahoma Art Tech is a $5.8 million grant over five years to expand access to visual arts, dance, drama or music courses to schools that would otherwise have limited or no arts programs.

“Every child deserves access to a well-rounded education, which includes exploration of the arts. Art Tech is addressing this need in rural schools, which experience greater challenges in offering specialized academic programs,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. “The infusion of fine arts into the classroom promotes engagement that enriches overall student learning and achievement, and is an evidence-based strategy that supports the success of the whole child.” 

Art Tech, administered by the Oklahoma State Department of Education and funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, equips classroom teachers with a no-cost standards-based fine arts curriculum and art supplies. In addition, visiting teaching artists provide monthly hands-on lessons. Teachers and school administrators also have access to a state arts education specialist for instructional support, guidance and collaboration. 

Art Tech will focus on PK-5 programs in its initial year and will expand to include middle schools and high schools in 2022-23. Applications for next year will reopen in fall for all districts. Art Tech is possible through partnerships with the Chickasaw Nation, Osage Nation, Oklahoma Arts Council, University of Central Oklahoma's LX Studio and University of Oklahoma's Center for Educational Development and Research.