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Sierra Arts Foundation: Helping Local Students Think Creatively

sierra-artsAs a mother of two young Washoe County School District Students, I recognize the pressure our schools are under to develop well rounded students.  As the Executive Director for Sierra Arts Foundation, Reno’s designated Local Arts Agency, I also know what integrating arts curriculum can do to connect students to their core curriculum and meet evolving objectives in both.

In order to succeed in college, career, and life, young students need a complete and balanced education that provides a broad range of skills and knowledge. They need the ability to think creatively, to collaborate, to create, and to solve complex problems—all skill areas that are developed through quality instruction in the arts.

Recognizing the importance of arts education, Washoe County School District has a long-standing partnership with Sierra Arts Foundation and the Kennedy Center for Fine Arts to provide year-long, curriculum-based arts education to K-6 students in visual arts, dance and movement, literary arts and digital arts. The partnership also provides professional development in Arts Integration for educators as well as this year’s pilot program for Veterans STEM to become WCSD’s first Arts Integrated School.

If we are serious about boosting graduation rates, improving struggling schools, and giving our students the best opportunities to succeed and thrive, we need to make sure that every child in every school has equal access to the arts and creative learning.

Through extensive research, we have found that:

  • Low-income students highly engaged in the arts are more than twice as likely  to graduate from college than peers with no arts education.
  • For English Language Learners (ELLs), gains in student language proficiency scores increased more than 10X with arts engagement in the schools.
  • At-risk students with access to the arts — inside or outside classrooms — do better academically, aim higher in their career goals and become more civically involved.
  • Students involved in the arts feel less bored in school and watch fewer hours of TV at home.
  • 72% of business leaders say that creativity is the number one skill they seek when hiring.
  • Arts and creative learning supports the PERSONAL, ARTISTIC, CIVIC, and SOCIAL development of our nation’s students.
  • Students engaged in arts learning score higher on their SAT’s than peers with little school-day arts instruction!
  • The arts INSPIRE students and promote growth in self-confidence and empathy and increased SOCIAL TOLERANCE.

In and beyond the classroom, we encourage everyone to use our new Facebook page, Sierra Arts Foundation Arts in Education as a resource to promote arts education, advocacy and support to benefit all students in our community.

To learn more about Sierra Arts Foundation, visit sierra-arts.org.

annie-zuckerAnnie Zucker is a native Nevadan, born and raised in Reno. She attended Oregon State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies, then went on to achieve certification in nonprofit management from the University of Nevada, Reno. As a member of the Global Alliance for Arts in Healthcare, Zucker understands that healing is more than quality medical care, it is about the heart, the mind and the spirit—and that art, music and environment can help this process. During her time with Renown, she managed a cadre of more than 750 artists, musicians, and volunteers who engaged with patients, performed for the public, maintained gardens and offered pet therapy to provide emotional support to patients and their families. Under her direction, the Healing Arts Program at Renown was listed as a best practice by the American Hospital Association in 2014. Using her passion and experience working on the business side of the arts, she now sits at the helm of northern Nevada’s premier arts organization since 1971, Sierra Arts Foundation. The nonprofit provides education, development, training, financial support and promotional assistance for artists and the community, such as teaching artists for children and at-risk youth, grants for artists, musicians in elder care facilities, and curation of office space galleries.

If not sharing her love of the arts with her husband and two young children, Cooper and Kinsley, they can be found outside hiking and biking the beautiful northern Nevada trails.



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