It was not long ago that arts education in schools was thought to be a luxury, and many schools across the nation cut arts classes from the curriculum to make room for more time to prepare for standardized tests.
However, Copperas Cove ISD weaves the arts — to include fine arts, drama, music and movement — into its core classroom curricula with teachers instructing students in specific artistic skills and abilities.
S.C. Lee Junior High art teacher Ronald Cresswell’s arts integration is helping to create well-rounded, well-prepared learners and leaders.
Principal Brian Jost selected Cresswell as the S.C. Lee Junior High Teacher of the Year.
“Mr. Cresswell inspires others by performing the responsibilities of teaching the whole child as well as implementing campus initiatives,” Jost said. “Mr. Cresswell’s mentorship and devoutness to his students has made him standout to administration as a deserving recipient of this award.”
Cresswell utilizes the architecture of the mini-lesson in his art class. Each day, Cresswell models a lesson and then allows the students to practice.
“It allows for a student to see from the expert and then produce their individual work and accomplishments,” Jost said. “The procedures in Mr. Cresswell’s class and the ownership of the activities in class has made for a student–centered environment.”
Visual arts teach learners about color, layout, perspective and balance — all techniques that are necessary in visual and digital presentations of academic work. Arts experiences boost critical thinking, teaching students to take the time to be more careful and thorough in how they observe the world. Art instruction also provides challenges for learners at all levels.
Instructional Coordinator Kasey Bechtold said integrating art with other disciplines reaches students who might not otherwise be engaged in classwork.
“Mr. Cresswell has gone above and beyond to track student progress, learn material and prepare for items other than art,” Bechtold said.
Jost said Cresswell has contributed to how students’ learning is tracked in scenarios where it is not his material, nor a known selection of students.
“Mr. Cresswell elected to provide further English/language arts/reading instruction to 60 students when the campus conducted intervention classes,” Jost said. “This is a campus initiative. He met this initiative head-on, gained knowledge from the student performance and tracks daily, and the student understanding of the concept for the week.
“His methods of tracking the learning performance of students he normally does not teach has been copied by several other teachers.”
Cresswell serves as a campus mentor to new and developing teachers and began his administrative internship last spring. He provides intervention to students as well as offering a Friday club to promote student interests.