Allen Elementary receives prestigious award for arts education

Allen's specials team celebrates the award.

Allen’s specials team celebrates the award with Principal Kerry Beal (far right)  and Robin Bailey, back row, right, who coordinates the district’s fine arts curriculum.

By Jo Mathis
AAPS District News Editor

Arts education thrives at Allen Elementary, which now has a prestigious award to prove it.

Allen has been named the DTE Energy Foundation School of the Year for 2016 for “exceptional work in arts education.” The award is given in collaboration with UMS, which is located at the University of Michigan and is one of the oldest performing arts presenters in the country.

Allen was nominated for the award by AAPS Fine Arts Coordinator Robin Bailey, who is impressed with the strength and collaboration of Allen’s special areas team.

Art teacher Deb Campbell is a member of the special areas team at Allen Elementary. Photo by Jo Mathis.

Bailey said those teachers routinely integrate their curriculum with the general classroom teacher curriculum. They also use all that UMS has to offer, including student performances, teacher workshops and UMS Teaching Artists visiting and working with students.

For example, Allen students two years ago attended the Hubbard Street Dance of Chicago student performance, which included a piece called “One Thousand Pieces” to Philip Glass’s music which was inspired by Marc Chagall’s “America Windows.”

But it didn’t stop there.

In art class, students created stained glass window paintings.

UMS then brought a small troupe from the Hubbard Street Dance Company to Allen to work on creative movement with the students.

Principal Kerry Beal stands in the world language-Arabic room.
Principal Kerry Beal stands in the Arabic classroom. Photo by Jo Mathis.

“After the student interaction with the Hubbard Street Dancers, the music and p.e. teachers took the students in the gym so they could continue creative movement experiences,” said Bailey.


The school was nominated on behalf of its fulltime teachers of music, physical education and art, but the special area team also includes the media specialists and world language teachers of Arabic and Spanish.

Allen Elementary Principal Kerry Beal said she admires how closely the special areas teachers work together as a team for the benefit of the students.

“They do not just take their own area and just go work on music, or work on phys ed, or just go work on world language,” she said.   “They meet regularly, they look at their data, they plan together, and that’s where the strength comes into the rest of our program here at school.”

Jim Leija, director of education & community engagement at UMS, said he was delighted to honor the school for its excellent commitment to arts-integrated experiences.

“We especially want to recognize, Ms. Deb Campbell (art) , Ms. Kimberly Coulson-Mobley (music), and Ms. Katie Hamilton (physical education) who have worked together for several years collaborating with classroom teachers to create rich, dynamic arts-integrated experiences in their classrooms,” he noted. “They’ve also received tremendous support from school media specialists, librarians, and colleagues in world languages. Their commitment does not stop in classroom: Ms. Campbell and Ms. Coulson-Mobley have presented at art and music conferences throughout the state sharing their projects that not only demonstrate, but advocate the benefits of keeping the arts alive in schools. Most importantly, we want to acknowledge and thank Principal Kerry Beal for her continuing support of the arts and arts-integration at Allen Elementary.”

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