Teacher leads students in dance

Representatives from the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center and Waterloo Community School District are headed to the nation’s capital Jan. 31-Feb. 3 to present their recent collaborative efforts in the Cedar Valley. 

The Kennedy Center Partners in Education (PIE) annual meeting is a conference where organizations from around the country come together to discuss their shared work in strengthening learning for all learners through the arts. The Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center and Waterloo Community School District were chosen to present from a pool of speaker proposals and will present their developing model for teaching artistry training and arts integration within the Waterloo Schools’ curriculum. 

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to share our work with other Kennedy Center Partners in Education,” shared Jennifer Onuigbo, community relations manager at Gallagher Bluedorn. “Our hybrid model of placing both locally- and nationally-based teaching artists in our schools is a framework other partnerships can replicate, and we look forward to sharing lessons learned and gathering tips from national experts in the field of arts integration.”

Onuigbo has worked closely with Travis Gratteau-Zinnel, district instructional coach for fine arts at Waterloo Community Schools, to develop and implement arts integration programs in Waterloo Schools over the past year. This approach to arts integration allows for students to learn from teaching artists within and outside of the Waterloo community. This focus on community-based representation was noted by the Kennedy Center, who reimbursed the local partnership for their work in developing local teaching artists and has helped put the Cedar Valley on the radar as a leader in this work.

“Arts integration is something every educator can use in the classroom to more deeply engage students in learning,” Onuigbo explained. “With the University of Northern Iowa’s rich history of educating future teachers and championing the performing arts, I am proud to represent the Gallagher Bluedorn and UNI in this partnership.” 

 “Arts integration efforts place an emphasis on community by and through the arts in various educational settings,” said Gratteau-Zinnel. “I’m grateful for this opportunity to support this ongoing partnership to benefit the Waterloo Community School District’s students, teachers and families.” 

The two organizations will continue to grow their partnership and further their impact on Waterloo students’ education. An arts integration workshop is scheduled on March 25 at the Central Rivers AEA for area educators, preservice teachers, and teaching artists. Quynn Johnson, an internationally recognized dancer, teaching artist and author, will be the keynote speaker for a morning of demonstrations, discussions, and networking. For more information or to register, visit gbpac.com/engage-explore/arts-integration-workshop-cedar-valley