A Look at Arts Education

A Look at Arts Education

September 16, 2019 2 By Ronny Jaskolski


Art has had such a huge impact on where I
am today. Art kind informs almost everything that we
do. When I found dance I found a purpose. I found a reason I should get better grades
and a reason I should get out of high school. Funding for the arts are the first thing to
go. The first thing to be pulled out of schools. The last thing to get funded. I was very lucky, I think I grew up in a time
where there were more arts in schools. My biggiest memories are like taking trips
to museums. I still love doing it today. You learn about history differently when you
get to see the things up close like that. I have seen countless times where the arts
changes the lives of children, all the way from life and death to just confidence building,
to helping in the classroom. When I was that six-year-old little boy that
did not want to be one of only three boys in a ballet class – we put a limitation on
ourselves, but I would say if that’s what your passion is, then go for it and do the
absolute best you can do. Let’s not forget. I know we just changed this. Developpe at the end and cross it just a little
bit. Yeah, let’s not forget that. At COCA we offer ACT tutoring, we also have
a homeroom we offer counseling, we run the gambit if a kid needs it we try to find a
way to do it. Ladies can we see this – can we see this X
– the X there. Cece, everybody, come back to me really quickly. We’ve had students that took the class who
were deemed bullies or were deemed unteachable, but I think what it was is that they never
had success. Because I don’t know who are the good students
and who are not academically, it’s a fair field. It’s what you bring as an individual, the
creativity and the willingness to, to learn. I’ve seen these kids come out of a successful
moment in dance class and find out later that they went back into the classroom and they
tried harder and their grades started to get better. My mom was a single mother and we lived on
the north side of St. Louis, which is kind of the rough area. She had her own demons. She battled substance abuse. She was a teenage mother with three boys and
life was crazy for her, she didn’t know how to raise us and once I found dance I figured
out how to raise myself. The arts makes you think, makes you solve
problems in a more creative way. I definitely wasn’t the kid who loved school,
I was not very good at school. Dance kind of turned me around like 360. I went straight forward. Not just to improve as a dancer, but to improve
as a student so that I could become a dancer because when I came to COCA all possibilities
opened. Here when I was at COCA I saw the Alvin Ailey
American Dance Theater when they performed and I knew I had to be there. 12 years I spent with the company. I’ve been around the world twice almost. I’ve really looked up to Antonio and teachers
like him for a long time and to be able to see his career as an Ailey dancer and him
in the studio with us. It makes us work a lot harder for sure. I think it kind of motivates me. I know that I’m here every night so I have
to work extra hard to get all my schoolwork done so that I can go to a good college. I think it’s really important to have arts
incorporated into our lives because it brings so much happiness and joy to my life I know
that if more kids were able to experience that they would be happier and even be able
to do better at school. Ballet is not easy. We give them the discipline and the rigor
it takes to become successful people. I’m not sure if I want to be a professional
dancer or if I want to go to school, but I know that I want dance in my life for sure. You’re taught that math and English are the
most important things and then you find out, oh, I can make somebody laugh too or someone
can actually make a drawing of something. That’s a contribution in a different way. Including the arts when we talk to students
is critical because everybody doesn’t know that they like math and science. Kids that are artistic find out by default
later in life that man, I didn’t know I was math and science when I was doing art. I think it’s really important for a kid to
get an art education as well as a STEM, education so therefore STEAM to include the arts. I’m a huge advocate of STEM, science, technology,
engineering, and math education and then I put in the arts and I actually put in design
so my nomenclature for that is STEAMD. I’m just very committed to that, I think that’s
the way we tap into people’s inspiration. Art had a huge influence in terms of opening
my eyes about the possibilities of how you can even exist in the world, how you can communicate. How you can change people. It’s supposed to be something that’s being
added to the culture for certain reasons, so I think it should be held to a different
standard. Does it open the conversation? Does it provoke us in a different way? Does it allow us to think differently? See something that we didn’t see before? The biggest thing I learned as a student of
the arts was the fact that it allows you to be free, and you get into your own world and
start imagining things the way that you wish they were, which is very similar to being
out in space looking back at this incredible planet. Then wondering what you’re gonna do when you
come back to make it better. Main gear. Lading gear now down and locked. Main gear touchdown. I feel like I’ve been inspired by so many
artists, but if I look at really what inspired me, it was a teacher who had an appreciation
for the arts. I’ll never forget this teacher’s name, Mr.
Robello. He would bring a guitar to the classroom every
day and he would play music all the time and I’m like this is fantastic. And it gave you such an appreciation just
for music, and then he did something with me where I used to crack jokes all the time
in class, right? And he got so tired of it because I would
disrupt the class – and he came to me and he said, Look, Larry, when we come back from
lunch, there’s like 15 minutes when it’s tough to get the students focused. That’s gonna be joke time. You can tell jokes during that time, but the
rest of the day – silence. Alright? And I was like, Okay, that’s a pretty good
deal. And so here was a teacher who actually encouraged
me to do pretty much what I’m doing now at that age. I was inspired so much by that, by someone
who channeled my expression into something that was positive. To know that the NEA cares all the way from
east St. Louis to New York City to California – It’s huge and it shows people how important
the arts are. We are grateful, we’ll forever be grateful,
but a lot of us wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the NEA. There’s like a whole of people who don’t have
access to private funds and the public money isn’t there. And that’s where public money can really make
a difference in exposing young children to art that they wouldn’t be exposed to, having
centers in areas that don’t necessarily have the ability to have that type of thing whether
it’s museums, whether its art centers, performing arts centers. That’s the type of thing for me that keeps
a culture going, keeps it moving, keeps it alive and keeps it vibrant.