Portrait of Superintendent Cheatham drawn by son Theo.
Portrait of Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham drawn by
her five-year-old son Theo

From self-portraiture to drama and dance, our students are experiencing the beauty of art in all forms, both in and outside the classroom. Driving this work is our arts education team, led by Laurie Fellenz, who continually looks beyond school and district boundaries to find and bring in arts opportunities from the community and from around the country. 

In this piece, we introduce you to a collection of arts experiences that are enriching our students’ lives. 

Learn about the arts programs in our elementary schools, including the after-school arts program at Lake View Elementary, Disney Musicals in our schools and the award-winning stop-motion animation at Crestwood Elementary.

Check out arts education in our middle schools and find out why one teacher calls it "a springboard to high school."

Here we feature the Hip Hop Studies course in our high schools, in which students dig into the history of hip hop as an art form and as a culture. You can also learn more about the Project Soapbox Challenge.

Any Given Child 

Since 2013, we’ve partnered with the City of Madison and Overture Center for the Arts on a Kennedy Arts Center opportunity called Any Given Child. Laurie Fellenz says this program gives our students access to theater, drama, dance movement, spoken word, and other art forms not always accessible to students outside of sometimes expensive after-school lessons or classes. 

Creating art, building a community

In our district, we strive to build community in our schools, making sure every student and family feels welcome and a sense of belonging. Art is an integral part of that. Laurie Fellenz describes several of our school gardens that also have art installations, projects created collaboratively by families and the community. 

Many times schools bring in local artists to take the lead on a project but it’s truly a community effort. “Lincoln, for example, if you go out to their school garden and area, they’ve got a mosaic sundial. You have the welcoming kiosk at Hawthorne. Glendale, when you walk in there’s an art installation. Randall did a big mural on their playground last year,” says Fellenz. She says these projects, and programs like Disney Musicals in Schools, are really pulling communities together. 

Whether it’s music, drama, dance or a school garden, art has the ability to bring schools and the communities surrounding them together.

We are thankful to all the organizations and community members, as well as our teachers who give their time and resources so our students can experience art in all its forms. 

To see more art from our students, follow the MMSD Arts Education Facebook page