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Strike up the band – Windy Fullagar, ASC Cato Lifetime Achievement in Teaching

29 Apr

Why this matters: ASC recognizes that creative individuals and teachers enrich the cultural lives of everyone in our region and beyond through their work.

Windy Fullagar, band director at Alexander Graham Middle School in Charlotte, is honored with the 2016 ASC Honors – Cato Lifetime Achievement in Teaching Award.

Windy Fullagar, band director at Alexander Graham Middle School in Charlotte, is honored with the 2016 ASC Honors – Cato Lifetime Achievement in Teaching Award. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

By Michael Solender

Alexander Graham Middle School Band Director Windy Fullagar got hooked on making music in the eighth grade.

She made a decision then that her career would always revolve around the band room. After 21 years teaching and serving the community, she’s still in the band room having the time of her life.

“I like the synergy of making music with others,” said Fullagar, a multiple Teacher of the Year award winner throughout her career in Charlotte, including last year’s honoree at Alexander Graham. “The best way to share this joy is through teaching. I consider myself lucky to be a teacher because I really love what I do.”

Through Fullagar’s instruction and guidance, first time band members overcome initial struggles with instrumentation and learn the joy of becoming part of something larger.

“I love seeing that little light in their eye when they figure it out,” said Fullagar, speaking of her younger students. “They’re able to push forward and create not just notes on the page but the emotion attached to the music as well. That is simply a joy to be a part of.”

Fullagar takes pride in continually striving to become a better educator. She seeks professional development opportunities to strengthen her own skill set and generously shares her knowledge with others.

She recently took on a leadership role with the North Carolina Music Educators Association. As chair of the Tri-M music honor society for the southern division of the National Association for Music Education, her work has direct impact on students across the southeast region.

Fullagar has assisted with the development of curricula and assessments for the district and serves as a lead teacher, coach, advisor and mentor for colleagues. “It’s incredibly important for me to share with my peers,” said Fullagar. “Sharing resources is just what teachers do.”

Recognizing exposure as a key component in developing interest in music for children, Fullagar routinely recruits new band members through creative introductory sessions held at area elementary schools.

“We take musical honor society students to talk with fifth graders,” said Fullagar. “We tell them what’s great about instrumental music and why they should consider joining. We also host instrument selection nights, where the children can actually come and see, play and hear the instruments.”

Fullagar’s infectious enthusiasm for her role doesn’t go unnoticed. One of her colleagues remarked, “There is no better way to earn a kid’s respect than by believing in them. It’s not shocking that a kid accidentally calls Windy ‘Mom’ at least once or twice a year.”

For Windy Fullagar, the love attached with that moniker suits her just fine.

Even better next year – Ann Jacob, ASC Cato Lifetime Achievement in Teaching

29 Apr

Why this matters: ASC recognizes that creative individuals and teachers enrich the cultural lives of everyone in our region and beyond through their work.

Ann Jacob, a fourth/fifth grade teacher at New Town Elementary in Waxhaw, is honored with the 2016 ASC Honors – Cato Lifetime Achievement in Teaching Award.

Ann Jacob, a fourth/fifth grade teacher at New Town Elementary in Waxhaw, is honored with the 2016 ASC Honors – Cato Lifetime Achievement in Teaching Award. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

By Michael Solender

Ann Jacob views challenging students as a way for children to achieve possibilities beyond what they imagine for themselves.

A future filled with possibility and opportunity is what awaits Jacob’s students as their classroom is transformed daily into a dream factory where no challenge is too great and no possibility out of reach. For more than 30 years Jacob’s enthusiasm for instruction and opening up pathways for students to excel has translated into success.

“I’m always thinking about how I can make things exciting for the students,” says Jacob, New Town Elementary School teacher of gifted 4th and 5th graders. “I like to take what’s presented and make it a little bit more creative, a little bit more exciting for the kids.”

No wonder the distinguished educator proudly notes teaching is not just her profession, it’s her hobby.

“Teaching is the only profession I know that comes to a close every ten months and then starts all over again,” says Jacob, recognized as New Town Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year. “My immediate thought at the end of the school year is, ‘Next year is going to be even better.’ I want to be the teacher that 20 or 30 years from now, students remember.”

Jacob has achieved a well earned reputation among peers, administrators, parents and students as an innovator who views core curriculum as merely a starting point for learning. “As a teacher, there is so much I can do beyond what is required,” said Jacob. “There is so much richness and depth I can add to students’ education. I know I can make a difference.”

Jacob’s influence is felt through her tireless work in pursuit of educational grants allowing for expanded programming such as her recently secured North Carolina Bright Ideas Grant from the Union Power Cooperative.

“My proposal was called ‘Lights, Camera, Action: Tragedies and Comedies of Ancient Greece,’” said Jacob. “My art background led me to choose a theme supporting the ancient Greece unit. We use art history to gain background knowledge and the students performed a play where they dressed in togas and student woven headdresses, arm bands and belts using the techniques of the ancients.”

Teaching and inspiring her students is the last thing Jacob thinks about before she goes to bed and the first thing on her mind when she awakens each day, even during the summer months when school is out of session.

“Teaching is the one profession that makes other professions possible,” said Jacob. “I want to get better every day.”

Taking it to another level – Julie McConnell, ASC Cato Lifetime Achievement in Teaching

29 Apr

Why this matters: ASC recognizes that creative individuals and teachers enrich the cultural lives of everyone in our region and beyond through their work.

Julie McConnell, a biology teacher at William A. Hough High School in Cornelius, is honored with the 2016 ASC Honors – Cato Lifetime Achievement in Teaching Award.

Julie McConnell, a biology teacher at William A. Hough High School in Cornelius, is honored with the 2016 ASC Honors – Cato Lifetime Achievement in Teaching Award. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

By Michael Solender

For Julie McConnell, AP biology teacher and science department chair at Hough High School, teaching students to “think like a scientist” is a way to equip them with problem solving skills they’ll need in their studies and throughout their lives.

“Getting kids to collaborate is a much more effective learning technique than providing procedures and process for them,” said McConnell. “It’s all about taking it to another level and helping them see nothing is beyond their reach when they apply themselves.”

McConnell has been encouraging her students to excel over her 30 year teaching career, always creating a framework to challenge and engage them.

“Teaching is something I know I’m supposed to be doing,” said McConnell. “I get to do something that really matters. It’s important for me to have a relationship with my students. I expect a lot from them and I want them to have high expectations for themselves.”

McConnell was part of the inaugural staff that opened Hough High in 2012. Her impact was immediate and dramatic in establishing a rigorous science curriculum. She introduced AP biology classes at the school, founded Hough’s Science National Honor Society Chapter, founded and coaches the Science Olympiad team, and secured a grant for the purchase of laboratory equipment for biology, chemistry and forensics use.

Her accomplishments earned McConnell special recognition as MeckEd Teacher of Excellence and the Hough Principal Award for Technology in 2014.

“It’s exciting to know you made a difference for someone,” said McConnell. “I had a student tell me, ‘Don’t give up on me Mrs. McConnell,’ and I said, ‘Don’t give up on yourself.’”

McConnell seized a very big opportunity to open students up to the world of possibilities that science offers when she began a relationship with the Charlotte-based Echo Foundation. The foundation works closely with area schools annually, in­troducing them to Nobel Laureates, their work and the impact a single individual can have on society.

In their 2004/2005 program, the Echo Foundation brought renowned physicist, Douglas Osheroff to Charlotte. While teaching at North Mecklenburg High School, McConnell showcased Osheroff’s work, recreating his innovative pressure system in a real-time science experiment for a crowd of 350 students and teachers. McConnell’s continued to work with the foundation, working creatively to integrate science into the curriculum and relate it to the work of the featured Laureates.

“These opportunities for the students are huge,” said McConnell. “I want them to know they really can change the world.”

Join the movement. Be an advocate.

29 Apr Studio 345 students speak with Senator Jeff Tarte about the power of the arts at the 2015 Arts Advocacy Day in Raleigh. The 2016 Arts Advocacy Day is May 25.

Why this matters: Because when ASC receives public sector support, all of Charlotte-Mecklenburg benefits through greater community enrichment.

By Amy Mitchell
Communications Manager

Advocating for arts and culture in Charlotte-Mecklenburg is essential in keeping our communities enriched, our students creatively engaged and ensuring Culture For All. The cultural sector directly impacts our region’s quality of life, economic prosperity and lifelong learning opportunities for students of all ages. Now is the time to advocate for the future of our cultural sector and the prosperity of our region; here are six ways you can start today and be an advocate.

Studio 345 students speak with Senator Jeff Tarte about the power of the arts at the 2015 Arts Advocacy Day in Raleigh. The 2016 Arts Advocacy Day is May 25.

Studio 345 students speak with Senator Jeff Tarte about the power of the arts at the 2015 Arts Advocacy Day in Raleigh. The 2016 Arts Advocacy Day is May 25.

Use your voice

Your voice is essential in providing Culture For All. Whether at the federal, state or local level, you have the opportunity to keep Charlotte-Mecklenburg culturally engaged. When ASC receives public sector support, all of Charlotte-Mecklenburg benefits through greater community enrichment. Our community’s cultural institutions rely on operating support from ASC to stay open. Businesses and tourists alike are attracted to well-rounded cities with plenty to see and do. Students learn how to be creatively literate. Quality of life abounds.

Keep current on the issues with VoterVoice

VoterVoice is a free tool that keeps you updated on arts advocacy issues and offers quick and easy ways for you to contact legislators to express your opinions. Sign up today and start advocating for the arts and cultural sector in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Attend local arts and culture events

Showing up for a festival, a performance or visiting one of our local museums is a powerful way for you to actively demonstrate what’s important in our community. Visit CharlotteCultureGuide.com regularly to find arts and culture events that ignite your passion. Even better, sign up for our weekly CulturePicks! email and we’ll make it easy for you to stay up to date on cultural happenings in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Buy local

Support local artists and creative individuals and help our region thrive as a hub of creative industries, attracting the best and the brightest in information technology, architecture, advertising, film production and research and development – all essential components of a thriving, creative economy.

Know the facts

Did you know Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s non-profit cultural sector generates $202.8 million annually in direct expenditures by audiences and organizations into the local economy? Or that for the past two years, 100% of high school seniors (38) enrolled in Studio 345 graduated from high school? Follow ASC on social media (Twitter and Facebook) and subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date on the impact of our region’s cultural sector.

Follow #CultureForAll on Facebook to learn more facts about the cultural sector.

Follow #CultureForAll on Facebook to learn more facts about the cultural sector.

Vote

Use your voice and vote this year. Make sure you are registered by October 14, 2016 here. Think about more than just the national elections; be sure to be informed about local races that are taking place as well.

Pick an action and start this week. Sign up for VoterVoice now so that you can be informed the public sector budget process this year. Plan to attend the Levine Center for the Arts Festival on May 21st with your friends and family. Register to vote. Find an action that inspires you, and then, just like that, you’re an arts advocate.

How are you advocating for the cultural sector this week?

Creating new possibilities with Studio 345

29 Apr Lucía Castañeda, an upcoming graduate of South Mecklenburg High School, will be attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on a merit scholarship this fall.

Why this matters: Because Studio 345 provides unique experiences for high school students, fostering a sense of belonging and inspiring students to pursue goals after high school.

By Amy Mitchell
Communications Manager

Studio 345 began four years ago with the dream of providing high quality arts education to Charlotte-Mecklenburg high school students during out-of-school time, free of cost to the students.

For Lucìa Castañeda, a student at South Mecklenburg High School, Studio 345 was a dream come true. “I felt unable to explore art in my high school classes,” said Lucía of her first experiences studying visual art in a classroom. “I felt discouraged to explore my own creativity outside of the confines of the assignments.”

She knew a friend that had previously participated in Studio 345, so when she saw an information table about the program at her school, she was already familiar and ready to get involved. After Lucía’s discouraging experience in a traditional classroom setting with visual art, she was eager to find a new creative outlet.

Her first experience in Studio 345 was music, “worst decision ever,” says Lucía of that first trimester. “I’m not musical at all, but I found the environment of Studio 345 so welcoming and open to everyone, I knew I wanted to stay involved.” Lucía signed up for screen printing the next trimester, and found a studio that let her explore her creativity and learn more about visual art.

Lucía Castañeda, an upcoming graduate of South Mecklenburg High School, will be attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on a merit scholarship this fall.

Lucía Castañeda, an upcoming graduate of South Mecklenburg High School, will be attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on a merit scholarship this fall.

Through participating in Studio 345 with professional teaching artists that also serve as mentors, Lucia was able to find the kind of artistic guidance she was hungry for. “The mentors are more like friends,” said Lucía. “They teach art concepts and really allow students to apply them in their own way.”

Having the appropriate materials and freedom to explore her own creativity was what was most important to Lucia as a young developing artist, and that was what kept her coming back for more at Studio 345 each trimester.

Participating in visual art classes at Studio 345 allowed Lucía to build a portfolio of her work that served as a catalyst to opening up opportunities for advancement in her craft. Armed with confidence from encouraging mentors and a stellar portfolio of work, Lucía was accepted into the North Carolina Governor’s School program for art in 2015, and in 2016 she accepted a Merit Scholarship to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) this fall.

Lucía’s original digital art piece, “Los Peces en el Rio,” was on display in Spirit Square.

Lucía’s original digital art piece, “Los Peces en el Rio,” was on display in Spirit Square.

Already an accomplished young artist, Lucía has built an impressive resume that includes receiving several awards for her digital art piece titled “Los Peces en el Rio.” This year she was awarded the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Gold Key for the Mid-Carolina Region, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Art & Writing Contest Award and an Honorable Mention in the PTA Reflections Art Contest.

Lucía’s experience in Studio 345 has inspired her to concentrate her studies at SAIC in art education and art therapy. Lucía believes that all students should have access to a high quality arts education, and is already a strong advocate for arts programming that is accessible to all.

“I tell everyone I can about Studio 345, and how awesome the program is,” said Lucía. “I’m already advocating for the importance of art education for students, and I think a program like Studio 345 needs to be available to more students all over the world.”

How well do you know Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s public art?

19 Apr The Firebird, located in front of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art at Levine Center for the Arts and created by Niki de Saint Phalle. Bechtler Museum of Modern Art Photo by Gary O'Brien - gary@garyobrien.com

Why it’s important: Public art creates livable cities, enhances neighborhood identity, strengthens economic development, educates children and adults and enriches the spirit and pride of citizens.

The Firebird, located in front of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art at Levine Center for the Arts and created by Niki de Saint Phalle. Bechtler Museum of Modern Art Photo by Gary O'Brien - gary@garyobrien.com

The Firebird, located in front of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art at Levine Center for the Arts and created by Niki de Saint Phalle. Bechtler Museum of Modern Art Photo by Gary O’Brien.

Compiled by Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

It’s been said (at least by us) that you wouldn’t know Charlotte-Mecklenburg without its public art, which begs the question:

Just how well do you know Charlotte-Mecklenburg?

Take our quiz to test your knowledge of the sculptural works that create a sense of space and place in our community.

If you passed: Congrats! Celebrate with the Public Art Commission and ASC at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, April 23, 2016, at the dedication for the public artwork “Now is Fireworks” in Charlotte’s Elizabeth neighborhood. The dedication doubles as the local celebration of International Sculpture Day, an event held worldwide to further the International Sculpture Center’s mission of advancing the creation and understanding of sculpture and its unique, vital contribution to society. The event takes place at Studio K, 2024 E. 7th St., Charlotte.

If you failed: It’s time to start learning about public art in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Start at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, April 23, 2016, by joining the Public Art Commission and ASC at the dedication for the public artwork “Now is Fireworks” in Charlotte’s Elizabeth neighborhood. The dedication doubles as the local celebration of International Sculpture Day and takes place at Studio K, 2024 E. 7th St., Charlotte.

McColl Award winner building community through circus

1 Apr

Why This Matters: Telling the stories and traditions of multi-ethnic communities adds context and meaning to Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s larger story.

“Nouveau Sud, Nouveau Cirque,” a cirque-style performance that incorporates the “underground” dance, acrobatic and physical theater scenes, will be performed April 29-30, 2016, at Booth Playhouse.

“Nouveau Sud, Nouveau Cirque,” a cirque-style performance that incorporates the “underground” dance, acrobatic and physical theater scenes, will be performed April 29-30, 2016, at Booth Playhouse. Photo credit: “Nouveau Sud, Nouveau Cirque.”

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

There’s an element of danger in circus.

If performers don’t work together, they put themselves at risk.

It’s a metaphor for how the members of any town or city need to rely on each other, said CarlosAlexis Cruz, an assistant professor of voice and movement at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Cruz plans to use it as a way to illustrate how local residents can work together to create something beautiful in his project “Nouveau Sud, Nouveau Cirque,” which translates to “New South, New Circus.”

CarlosAlexis Cruz.

CarlosAlexis Cruz.

“I think what ‘Nouveau Sud’ is saying is even though we all come from different sides and different perspectives and strong cultural points of view, we’re all actually in this together,” Cruz said.

“We all want this region to be our home and the only way we can succeed in that is if we feel this place can be different and welcoming.”

Funded by ASC’s $25,000 McColl Award, “Nouveau Sud, Nouveau Cirque” is a cirque-style performance that incorporates the “underground” dance, acrobatic and physical theater scenes that thrive within Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s ethnic communities.

Through the physical language of dance and movement, the stories and traditions of Latino, African-American and Asian-American communities will be tied to the larger story of Charlotte-Mecklenburg in this examination of what it means to be a citizen of the “new” South.

“There are so many interesting cultures and people here,” Cruz said. “I still feel that we should all benefit from that.”

He began work on his contemporary circus back in September 2014 shortly after winning the McColl Award, which is named in honor of Hugh and Jane McColl for their long-term commitment to the cultural community and given every three years with the purpose of investing in the creation of a new work of art.

That month he offered a glimpse of the ground “Nouveau Sud, Nouveau Cirque” would cover at ASC’s “Imagine 2025” event. In the colorful, breathtaking performance, African-American and immigrant experiences were linked by break-dancing, Latino folk dancers and poetry recited in both Spanish and English.

Break-dancers and Latino folk dancers in a performance arranged by Cruz at "Imagine 2025."

Break-dancers and Latino folk dancers in a performance arranged by Cruz at “Imagine 2025.”

Since then, Cruz’s social circus previewed its artistry at Blumenthal Performing Arts’ “Breakin’ Convention” last October and more recently at the McColl Center of Art + Innovation in March and at April’s Creative Mornings Charlotte event at Bechtler Museum of Modern Art at Levine Center of the Arts.

It will be presented in its entirety April 29 and 30 at Booth Playhouse at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte.

“People are really excited,” he said. “It’s a diverse group exploring an art form that is not as mainstream or present in our area. That makes it unique.”

 

Want to Go?

“Nouveau Sud, Nouveau Cirque,” which translates to “New South, New Circus,” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. April 29 and 30 at Booth Playhouse at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, 130 N. Tryon St., Charlotte. Tickets are $10. For more information, visit http://www.carolinatix.org/events/detail/the-nouveau-sud-project.

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