Rewarding Creative Leadership in Schools Through Crayola Program

Aug 14, 2019 11:10 AM ET

In 2018, Crayola partnered with the National Association of Elementary School Principals to present its ninth annual grant awards program, Champion Creatively Alive Children. Each year, the program awards 20 elementary and middle schools from across the country with $2,500 and an additional $1,000 in Crayola products to fund innovative initiatives to increase art-infused education school-wide.

Grant recipients report these initiatives result in a more collaborative, creative school culture, increased family engagement and stronger student achievement. To date, the program has impacted approximately 90,000 students.

Principal Debbie Broadnax, a 2018 Creative Leadership Grant Award recipient from Atlanta, Georgia, said, “I’d get calls from parents saying, ‘I don’t care which teacher my child gets next year, as long as it is one of the arts-integration teachers.’ The drive toward more effective approaches came from both teachers and learners.”

To integrate the arts school-wide, Broadnax knew she needed to address three essentials for e ective implementation — professional development (PD), peer observations from fellow teachers and best practice procedures.

“Arts integration PD isn’t about sitting and listening; by its nature it is hands-on, with active application of new ideas,” explained Broadnax. “We reimagined our school vision by making a three-dimensional mobile. That creative, interactive process helped make our thinking visible as we articulated priorities.”

The grant program has also been a forum to help educators use the arts to benefit students who struggle with challenges related to human literacy — the knowledge of and fluency in communicating with people.

Bobby Riley, principal in Burlington, Vermont, and 2018 grant award winner, uses the arts as therapeutic listening to improve human literacy. Riley’s grant aided him in developing a process that focuses on achieving desired long-term results by following a series of six R’s: Readiness, Recognize, Regulate, Respond, Reflect and Restore.

“Kids don’t intentionally get in trouble,” said Riley. “When they act out, there is always something else going on,” he continued. “The arts help, especially in that moment, kids who have difficulty articulating what is at the root of the issue.”

“Each of the 20 school recipients of the Champion Creatively Alive Children grants brings new insights that help Crayola strengthen the role of art in education — which is core to the company’s mission and essential for students’ well-rounded education,” said Cheri Sterman, director of education, Crayola.

Read more in Hallmark’s 2018 Caring in Action Social Responsibility Report.