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An Interview with Zionsville Middle School Orchestra Director

We spoke with Kathleen Swayze, of Zionsville Middle School, to learn about her opinions of the perfect educational system and the role of the arts in childhood development. Kathleen has previously worked with us as a Run coordinator to raise money for arts in education programming. To learn how you can bring Run for the Arts to your school, click here.

Q1: Why are you involved with Arts for Learning?

  • A1: I am very familiar with the Arts for Learning organization and have several friends who are artists.  I have seen various artists at work from my early days of teaching at Westlane Middle School, where when there was any available money it seems like we’d bring in an artist! – to current times when my school’s history teachers have used Arts for Learning actors annually. But most of all, I wanted to do an activity with my Music Honor Society that could encompass students from multiple schools doing a community activity (Run for the Arts) where we can be a beneficiary OR a benefactor!

Q2: In your opinion, what role do the arts play in childhood development?

  • A2: Besides being a lot of fun, the arts develop important skills – creativity, leadership, teamwork, discipline and dedication, repetition, attention to detail, and self esteem, just to name a few.

Q3: What would the perfect educational system look like to you?

  • A3: The perfect educational system to me has a lot to do with the Suzuki method where parents are involved 100% in their child’s learning and progress.  That is FIRST AND FOREMOST.  I feel like kids need a good chunk of their day devoted to activities that develop their right-brain, as well as physical activity.  I know that many kids who are unmotivated in their academic classes are VERY motivated in their fine and performing arts classes.  Those students need to be celebrated and encouraged.  I think so many “special learners” are beat down all day long – I try to encourage and nurture those kids.  They know my class is a safe place where they know what to expect every day and won’t get yelled at for not being perfect.  I definitely think that the arts should be integrated into academics.  The music and art teachers can reinforce what is being taught in the social studies classes and English classes, for starters!

Q4: What do you like to do for fun?

  • A4: When I was a KID I spent my free time either playing outside or doing musical activities inside (trying to reproduce my favorite songs on the piano, for instance).  Now I compose music and play sports (soccer and volleyball).

Q5: Place you’d like to visit?

  • A5: Place I’d like to visit…I have been to Hawaii once and I would like to go back!  Also, France is one of my favorite places, I have been there twice.
March 6, 2014

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