Sunday, January 30, 2011

Alaska Administrators' Arts Retreat at Glacier Valley

Glacier Valley Elementary School was selected as one of two Alaskan schools to host this year's Administrators' Arts Retreat: Growing Art Education Leaders for Alaska. Thirty-five administrators, principals and superintendents from all over the state visited Glacier Valley to learn first-hand how we integrate the arts to help motivate and engage our students, while building a positive school climate.

This event occurred the same week that I was in Dallas attending the Teacher of the Year conference, but was left in the very capable hands of an incredible team of Glacier Valley staff, parents, sponsors and students who packed in just a few short hours:
  • visits to classrooms showcasing arts-integrated lessons,
  • tour of artwork exhibited throughout the hallways,
  • observation of the performing arts in Humanities class (photo below), and
  • lunch and panel discussion with key constituents of our Art is Elementary program

Performing Arts as Part of GV's Humanities Class (photo by Bethany Vaughn)

Our guests also found the interaction with our Student Ambassadors to be one of the highlights of the morning (see photo below).  Eighteen 4th and 5th graders were selected for their leadership qualities and participation in many of the arts activities offered at Glacier Valley.  As part of their preparation for this prestigious role, students practiced handshakes, eye contact and greetings at the door.  Mrs. Sielbach, our librarian and arts integration specialist, gave them tours of the artwork exhibited throughout the halls so that they could speak knowledgeably about both visual art elements and integrated core subjects.  Students practiced at home and came to school dressed in their best attire, ready to escort our guests from room to room, answer any questions and proudly share personal anecdotes of why the arts are an important part of their school day.

Student Ambassadors Greet Visiting Administrators (photo by Bethany Vaughn
Here are some of the journal reflections from the administrators about their time at Glacier Valley:

I would be so proud to be the leader in a school like GV.  The enthusiasm from teachers and students alike, the collaboration, passion - just a few of the things I will strive to promote and support. The development of community relations was so powerful. 
At GV I saw: 
  •  75 kids engaged in rhythm dancing under control, without the need of adult redirection
  • teachers relying on each other, who had obviously prepared
  • lots of extra people helping out
  • parents at the forefront of the program
  • A principal allowing to let the control move among his staff
  • lots of smiles and serious engagement

Thank you to Bethany Vaughn, a parent at Glacier Valley, who donated her time by photographing the entire event.  A slide show of her work and the day's events are posted above.  Also, thank you, Susie Denton, Katrina Laneville, Susan Sielbach and Ted Wilson for leading the charge!

Glacier Valley Student Ambassadors pose with Principal, Ted Wilson


  1. Thank you for inviting me to be the photographer.
    Bethany Vaughn
    Simple Beauty Photography

  2. This is a great blog. The administrators who visited Glacier Valley were deeply moved by the level of arts integration throughout the school. You have inspired new projects around the state. Thank you so much for your generosity to help improve arts for ALL students.
    Cristine Crooks, Executive Director, AAEC