ArtsBuild Imagine! Program Serves Hamilton County Schools Students For More Than A Decade

Tuesday, August 9, 2022
- photo by Millicent Garland Photography

Imagine!, an arts education program created by ArtsBuild in 2010, gives students an early, systematic introduction to the arts and local arts organizations. Through the program, all public elementary schools in Hamilton County can send their students (grades K-fifth) on a field trip to experience the arts at no cost to families or the school. 

"Last school year (2021-2022), ArtsBuild worked with our program partner arts organizations to offer a combination of in-person and virtual arts experiences for each grade level," officials said. "This allowed the program to serve Hamilton County teachers and students despite the ongoing uncertainty of field trip cancellations and temporary staffing shortages due to COVID-19 infection surges.

"The 2022-2023 school year will be the first full year that fifth grade has been added to the program. We expect about 14,000 students to participate in an Imagine! field trip this year." 

Each grade level is paired with the following program partners: 
Kindergarten - Creative Discovery Museum 
First grade - Chattanooga Theatre Centre 
Second grade - Chattanooga Ballet
Third grade - Chattanooga Symphony & Opera
Fourth grade - SoLit Theatre Express 
Fifth grade - Sculpture Fields at Montague Park 
Fifth grade - Hunter Museum of American Art 

"Teachers appreciate participating in the Imagine! program because the arts experiences integrate well with state standard curriculum to enhance learning in the classroom," officials said.

Kelly Shimel, fine arts coordinator for Hamilton County Schools, says, “Arts education and programming helps students develop vital communication and problem-solving skills. Through the support of ArtsBuild, all Hamilton County School elementary school students have access to arts programming which provides equitable access to arts experiences that help our students thrive and experience a future without limits! We are also excited that field trips will resume this year, as nothing can quite replace experiencing the arts in a hands-on or physical performance setting.”

More about ArtsBuild arts education initiatives: 

ArtsBuild will provide transportation for middle and high school students to see Americans and the Holocaust: A Traveling Exhibition for Libraries from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Library Association, an exhibit presented locally at the Chattanooga Public Library in January 2023. 

In 2020-2021, ArtsBuild worked with Lift Media to produce engaging and instructional video content for Imagine! that continues to be used by Chattanooga PBS affiliate WTCI as regular programming which is broadcast to homes in 35 counties in a 4-state region. The Imagine! videos are also accessible on ArtsBuild’s YouTube Channel. 

ArtsBuild hosts professional teacher training workshops each year about arts integration, which many Hamilton County Schools teachers and local teaching artists participate in. The teaching sessions are funded by the Tennessee Arts Commission and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and led by Kennedy Center certified teaching artists. 

For more information about ArtsBuild’s arts education programs and initiatives or questions about Imagine!, contact Programs Manager Amy Lowdermilk at amy@artsbuild.com. 

Imagine! is made possible by ArtsBuild donors and private foundations including Beacon Foundation Charitable Trust, Hamico Foundation, George R. Johnson Family Foundation, Lillian L. Colby Foundation, Tucker Foundation, as well as the City of Chattanooga and the Tennessee Arts Commission.

- photo by Millicent Garland Photography

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