Williamsport named Outstanding Visual Arts Community for the third time

Williamsport Area School District  |  Posted on

For the third time, the Williamsport Area School District (WASD) has been recognized as a 2022 Outstanding Visual Arts Community from the Pennsylvania Art Education Association (PAEA) for its commitment to visual arts education.

Districts that receive the endorsement demonstrate the importance of their visual arts programs by meeting the following criteria:
• Rigorous and inclusive programs: Arts programs demonstrate rigor using standards-based curriculum taught at every level by highly qualified and certified arts educators.
• Highly accessible programs: Art programs are offered to all students at every level of education with a sustainable budget for the visual arts.
• Highly visible programs: Schools and districts identify their programmatic accomplishments, curriculum for all levels, art staff, mission statements, and arts events using their school websites and social media.

“The supports in place within our district affords us this opportunity to be recognized and stand tall as a driving arts education force in our area,” said Dr. Andrea McDonough, the district’s K-12 art department coordinator. “Our entire department is grateful that our school district and Board of Education see the value in providing a strong arts education program and continue to support it.”

Schools providing these opportunities equip students with visual literacy, according to PAEA. Visual literacy constitutes the new thinking and learning skills of a digital age and a creative economy. These are the types of cognitive skills young people will need to find their place in a globally competitive workforce.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that the arts and culture sector is a $699 billion industry, which represents 4.3% of the nation’s gross domestic product — a larger share of the economy than transportation and agriculture. The nonprofit arts industry alone generates $135 billion in economic activity annually (spending by organizations and their audiences) that supports 4.1 million jobs and generates $22.3 billion in government revenue, according to Americans for the Arts.

Technology innovations such as big data, data analytics, and visualization will simply increase the importance of visual and spatial learning skills.

“Williamsport has always had a strong arts community supporting our programming,” said Dr. Chad Greevy, secondary curriculum and K-12 unified arts supervisor. “Look at our influences from two strong colleges, strong local organizations, museums and galleries to many influential artists around the area. WASD attracts the highest-quality visual arts educators because that is what the community expects — the highest-quality visual arts opportunities for our students. This recognition from the PAEA as an Outstanding Visual Arts Community is the result of the commitment that the WASD art department makes daily to its students.”