The district worked in collaboration with Delta State University's Bologna Performing Arts Center to receive the grant-funded program.
The concept comes from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. and is designed to expand educational partnerships in school systems.
The primary purpose of these partnerships is to provide professional learning in the arts for teachers.
The Partners in Education program requires the participating school district to form a partnership with a local arts organization — this is where BPAC comes in.
"The idea is to connect different pieces in the community through the arts," said BPAC Executive Director Laura Howell.
WBSD Curriculum Director Dr. Sherry Shepard was excited to announce details of the program to the board.
"The goal here is to support the curriculum and increase student engagement," said Shepard. "I think teachers are really excited about it — they are hungry to keep students engaged."
WBSD learned of its selection in January, after which Shepard, Howell and Myrtis Tabb, DSU associate vice president of finance and administration, attended program training at the Kennedy Center.
Only 12 districts were selected nationwide.
The partnership between WBSD and BPAC will offer teacher trainings embodying the Kennedy Center strategies, which teachers will then implement in the classrooms.
Teachers at the elementary and middle school levels will be trained.
The purpose entails a three-tier structure: 1.) Expand teachers' content knowledge of and ability to integrate the arts into the curriculum; 2.) Deepen teachers' appreciate of the arts; and 3.) Foster life-long learning.
The trainings will equip teacher with tools to affect change in their classrooms.
"The key goal of integrating arts with other subjects is to reinforce specific skills and content though hands-on arts activities," said Howell. "When students are making or creating things that incorporate content from other subject areas, they are better able to integrate and retain what they are learning."
The first of these trainings will take place on Oct. 15, with the grant allowing for at least five trainings before the completion of the school year.
"I'm really excited about this opportunity to train West Bolivar School District teachers so we can enhance student learning through the arts," said Shepard.
The Partners in Education program is based on the belief that teachers’ professional learning is an essential component of any effort designed to increase the artistic literacy of young people.
The Kennedy Center's has been providing teacher training since its establishment in 1976.