On July 9, 2019, a celebration of appreciation was held highlighting the partnership between Towson University’s Art Education Program and New Song Academy, a Baltimore City Public Charter School. On view was the recent artwork done by the fifth through eighth grade students, which was on exhibit for a special brunch and also for the eighth grade graduation ceremony taking place the following week. Representatives from Baltimore City Schools, the College of Fine Arts and Communications, and BTU, joined art education faculty members and art education students who helped to set up the art exhibit, among others. This partnership has been generously supported through BTU—Partnerships at Work for Greater Baltimore, for which we are grateful.

Now in its 27th year, the City Kids Art Program continues to grow and expand. The program brings under-served urban youth from Baltimore City to Towson University where they have the opportunity to explore the arts in a teaching and learning partnership with art education and elementary education students. This is done through a service-learning model in two art education classes: Media and Techniques and Art and the Child. This program has an overarching goal to break down stereotypes and to encourage the urban youth to gain a vision for continuing their education at the college level. The partnership exposes the urban youth to the college campus and the Center for the Arts, including three galleries and studio space made available to them. TU students get a “real life” teaching experience and the New Song children experience college life. We currently place all of our pre-service art teachers in city schools for their field experiences for elementary and middle school or high school.

For the past twenty-six years, groups of between 35 and 65 elementary and middle school students have been transported to Towson University every semester to receive interdisciplinary art lessons utilizing art education students from the Art and the Child and the Media & Techniques classes. This program has been initiated and operated under the direction of Kay Broadwater, professor in art education. Other faculty who have worked in the program are Diane Kuthy, Riselle Abrams, Bernadine Zienkiewicz, who have all trained university students to prepare arts integrated lessons for the first through eighth grade students. Field instructors, Shawna Pincus and Mike Bare, have also been instrumental working with the New Song Academy students. This year we welcome two new faculty members, Jinyoung Koh and Ada Pinkston, who will be working with the City Kids Art Program.

This program actually began with a desire to bring art education to a school that had none and to children who wanted to learn. It also began with a familiarity with the neighborhood and the needs that existed there. The Sandtown-Winchester community in Baltimore City is underserved on multiple levels and yet there is an inspirational vitality among the children and residents who live in the community. Sources report that the median annual household income in this community is approximately 12,000.00.

Throughout our program there have been four key values that we have emphasized. They are respect (for everyone involved in the program,) trust, commitment (on the part of our student teachers and on the part of the children) and high expectations. The staff and the children have expressed appreciation for our long-standing commitment. Because of our many years of partnership, we have the trust, warmth and easy communication that only comes with a long term commitment.

The City Kids Arts Program best aligns with two BTU Impact Areas: “high-quality and equitable education” and contributing to “vibrant arts and cultural community.” By bringing highly vetted and extremely well prepared pre-service art education students and stellar art lessons to the children that do not have an art program we have discovered a lot of untapped talent. Some of the especially engaged and talented kids have been granted scholarships and are invited to attend the Towson Community Art Center for extra art lessons. I believe our collaborative partnership actually contributes to all five BTU impact areas.

This program has been so successful that numerous requests come to us from varying schools in Baltimore City. Some of the schools we have worked with include City Neighbors-Hamilton and City Neighbors High School. We also partner with the Green School, Waverly, Tunbridge, Govans, Ace Academy and City College. The program has become a multi-leveled, multi-cultural experience with tangible results.

The City Kids Arts Program is recognized across the nation and there are two universities who have replicated our partnership model. California State University, Sacramento works with Latino children in arts infusion. South Dakota State University has established Success Academy. Local Native American children are transported onto their campus each week and in the summer for interdisciplinary learning.