REAMS, celebrating the ‘art’ of learning for a decade

Kyle Grimm performs a piano solo as part of the newly established piano program at the Rockford Elementary Arts Magnet School.
Kyle Grimm performs a piano solo as part of the newly established piano program at the Rockford Elementary Arts Magnet School.

Rockford Elementary Arts Magnet School is celebrating its 10th year as an Arts Magnet program.

Magnet schools provide students with learning adventures that take them beyond the traditional instructional classroom experience. The goal at REAMS is to provide creative expression, critical thinking, self-confidence, communication skills, appreciation of the arts and multicultural experiences for all students through the artistic disciplines (dance, drama, literary, music and visual arts).

The school meets this goal by infusing the arts into core subjects and providing arts opportunities for the students in many different ways.

Teaching through the arts helps students experience concepts rather than merely discussing or reading about them.

REAMS fifth-grader Rayna Aker said: “I have been involved in a lot of arts opportunities at REAMS. The National Anthem Team taught me to work hard and have confidence in front of people. I now get more excited to perform than nervous. I really love our school because there are so many chances to perform and be involved in the arts.”

REAMS staff believes students learn best through active participation in real-life activities. Classroom teachers and arts specialists collaborate to connect the academic concepts studied in the classroom. The study of the arts has been linked to students’ increased critical and creative thinking skills, self-esteem, willingness to take risks and ability to work with others.

The development of magnet schools is based on the premise that all students learn differently. Students who attend classes with a unifying theme will learn more in all subject areas. A student who wants to be in school and makes the choice to be there has a greater likelihood of achievement, satisfaction and success.

Arts Coordinator Darren Eliason elaborated: “The opportunity to collaborate with colleagues on arts-related activities and opportunities is an essential concept at REAMS. Each teacher is given training on infusing different arts areas in the classroom. We have been fortunate to partner with several arts agencies over the past 10 years. The Perpich Center for Arts Education has been one of our most important collaborators. Their continuous training and connections have helped REAMS build relationships with several choirs, theaters, dance troupes, art museums, as well as statewide arts agencies. In turn, our students are offered opportunities that most other elementary school students don’t have on a regular basis.”