Integrated Arts
Academy at
H.O. Wheeler
The Integrated Arts Academy offers its students an interdisciplinary curriculum and a dynamic approach to learning where the arts are central to academics. Students actively create, communicate through, and respond to their own and other’s work in the disciplines of visual arts, dance, music, and theatre. Adhering to Vermont Standards of Learning, the thematic program enhances the understanding of and connections between the fields of knowledge.  Creativity is pervasive in the student-centered curriculum and demonstrated in the physical environment. Collaboration among students, staff members, parents, and community arts partners enrich the in-depth learning with the arts to develop the skills and dispositions necessary for 21st Century learning.

Each faculty member in The Integrated Arts Academy at H.O. Wheeler will weave the arts into their teaching and create a school in which the arts – theater, dance, visual art, and music – play key roles in every subject studied. The teachers of art, music and physical education/movement will provide students with expert training in the art forms while working closely with the classroom teachers and professional staff. For example, together the art and classroom teachers might lead a study focusing on patterns as they look at particular author/illustrators, or the music and classroom teachers might look deeply at the concepts of cycles as they create music describing ecosystems. The Flynn Center’s Education Program and the St. Michael’s College Arts in Education Program in conjunction with a variety of  local artists and arts organizations will offer professional development and resources to meet the needs of the school’s teachers and students.

Through partnerships with the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, St. Michael’s College Arts in Education Graduate Program, and other local arts organizations including the Vermont Youth Orchestra, the integrated arts magnet school will build upon national research supporting strong connections between arts integration and student achievement.

The Flynn Center’s signature professional development program Words Come Alive! where teachers learn how to strengthen students' comprehension and retention of curricular concepts and texts with theater and dance, began in Burlington in 2001, and since then, over thirty Burlington teachers from various schools have received training in Words Come Alive! techniques, and contributed lessons to Flynn Center publications.  Look for Burlington students and teachers featured in the video on Flynn’s Words Come Alive! video (scroll down).

Saint Michael’s College, with support from the Flynn Center for Performing Arts, will offer professional development opportunities to enrich school needs that may include curriculum design, assessment, collaborative models, differentiated curriculum, seminars for educators as artists, courses and workshops on media literacy, book literacy, visual culture, multicultural education, drama and dance across the curriculum, as well as other art forms, educational strategies, and current topics.  Teachers at the school engaged in professional development through St. Michael’s College may gain credits towards their Master’s Degree, or their Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Arts in Education. 

The teachers’ enthusiasm for the effectiveness of using drama and movement in their classrooms has contributed to strong community interest in this magnet school. Not only have teachers found that arts deepen student learning and engagement, but that participation in the arts has developed students' confidence, collaborative skills, and critical, interdisciplinary thinking: all skills deemed critical for success in the 21st century.  The faculty of the Integrated Arts Academy will draw on the Words Come Alive! techniques in creating interdisciplinary lessons, but will also develop skills in music and visual arts as they create units of study focusing on broad themes. 

Dec. 8, 2008.  Wheeler teachers integrate collage into a lesson about weather systems as part of a specially designed eight-month professional development program organized by arts intergration experts from the Flynn Center and Saint Michael's College Graduate Arts in Education program.