The Art of Partnerships at Bronx Envision Academy
By Abner Oakes
ISA's Director of Outreach
An ISA partner school, Bronx Envision Academy opened its doors in 2011 with a mission to empower students to be passionate about and well-prepared for their futures so they can be successful in college and their careers. Specifically, Bronx Envision’s art-rich instructional model, focus on project-based learning, and its partnerships with vibrant community arts organizations give students the opportunity to learn necessary content knowledge while gaining an understanding of art.
Bronx Envision has partnered with Visual Understanding in Education to train educators to use its Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) discussion protocol, an education method of discussion centered in visual understanding. VTS consists of teacher-facilitated discussions about art images that jumpstart a process of deeper learning in other subjects. Through VTS’ rigorous group ‘problem-solving’ process, educators cultivate students’ willingness and ability to present their own ideas while respecting and learning from the perspectives of their peers. Teachers implement this method by discussing diagrams in science classes, analyzing patterns and transformations in math, and discussing the use of historic images as primary and secondary sources in social studies.
These community art partners provide teaching artists who collaborate with Bronx Envision educators to incorporate art into core subject areas. For example, English classes published collections of writing and created an anthology with the Community-Word Project. Using transformations and geometry concepts, math classes worked with BRIC Contemporary Art to create mosaics that will adorn the school.
“We’ve been fortunate that ISA has supported us in creating our own vision and finding our own place in the ISA model, and we are privileged to have the art partnerships that have helped shape our curriculum,” said Emily Shu, founding principal at Bronx Envision Academy. “These local partnerships offer the opportunity for teachers to collaborate with artists and integrate their activities into lessons, but it also gives students the opportunity to explore art through project-based learning.”