Quincy Art Center reimagines K-3rd grade art program, expands it to rural areas

Quincy Art Center

QUINCY — Illinois does not require schools to provide visual art education for students in kindergarten through third grade. Children in these grades don’t always get to experience the power of art in their classrooms.

“Starting early with art is so important,” Rachel Roundtree, director of education at Quincy Art Center, said in a press release. “It helps build critical thinking and fine motor skills that some children sorely need, especially at that young age. This program is meant to empower teachers and grant new artistic opportunities to students who may not otherwise have them. Art is for everyone.”

The Art Center’s Starting with Art (stART) initiative, formerly known as smART Kids, bridges that gap by providing schools with standard-based lesson plans and art supplies for free. The art lessons are taught by classroom teachers after they’ve received training via videos created by Roundtree. After completion of the program, teachers are eligible to receive professional development credits.

“Visual arts experiences are beneficial for students for many reasons. Creating art enhances problem-solving skills, increases imagination and creativity, reduces stress while boosting self-esteem. The Quincy Art Center stART lessons allow QPS kindergarten to third grade teachers to provide quality art opportunities within their classroom,” said Todd Pettit, superintendent of Quincy Public Schools.

The stART program was launched in 2007 and currently serves more than 2,000 students in Quincy public and parochial schools. The program will be expand in spring 2023 to rural Adams, Brown, and Pike counties in Illinois. There’s no cost for teachers to opt in to the program.

The stART program is made possible by the Tracy Family Foundation and a grant from the Community Endowment Fund and the Noma Meyers Eaton Fund through the Community Foundation. It is also funded by the Samantha Otte Fund through the Community Foundation, Quincy Noon Kiwanis, Gem City Breakfast Kiwanis, the Breakfast Optimist Club of Quincy, the Illinois Arts Council Agency and from other individual donations.

To help the Art Center expand the stART program, the Art Center’s Arts Leadership Academy students will be raising money for the program between now and March 2023. The Arts Leadership Academy is comprised of 16 high school students learning about community involvement and nonprofits.

For more information about the stART program, visit quincyartcenter.org or call Roundtree at 217-223-5900.

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