Arts Focus Schools

What is an Arts Focus School?

An Arts Focus School is a school that incorporates the arts in its day-to-day teaching and learning through aesthetic education. A teacher team attends the DeltaARTS Educator Workshop Summer Session and works with DeltaARTS Executive Director Amelia Barton and Artistic Director Sandy Kozik to design the semester-long aesthetic education plan.

All teachers receive aesthetic education in-services. A work of art and a selected theme with guiding questions are the anchors and impetus for the semester’s in-depth focus. Each semester, trained teaching artists work with each teacher and his or her students during a three-visit residency to connect arts processes related to the focus work of art. The teachers connect the arts to other curricular areas and the students take ownership of their own individual learning during the process. Parents participate by attending classrooms during artists’ visits and also a parent arts education night. All aspects are evaluated and documented.

This program is supported in part by the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, and by the National Endowment for the Arts.


2017-2018 Focus Schools Attend Nut Remix at the Cannon Center

DeltaARTS Focus Schools, Wonder and Jackson Elementary, had an imaginative and enlightening first semester. All students and teachers attended Nut Remix by New Ballet Ensemble and the Memphis Symphony at the Cannon Center in Memphis on November 17th after engaging in aesthetic education residencies led by teaching artists. These residencies consisted of students experiencing the music and dance elements in the performance, reading and discussing different versions of The Nutcracker including The Nutcracker in Harlem and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, comparing and contrasting the original ballet with the Nut Remix version, and creating their own percussive and movement versions of specific scenes including the Battle Scene with the Mouse Kings.

As a major component of the Focus School program is teacher training in incorporating the arts in all teaching and learning, teachers “remixed” regular lessons in science, math, and language arts to include dance and music.

“I have added movement to phonics lessons now. Students often get bored just sitting on the rug for their lessons and adding movement keeps them engaged,” says Cathy Young, first grade teacher, Wonder.

“I was really excited to discover ways to incorporate dance into math lessons.” Zalpha Davis, fifth grade math and science teacher, Wonder

“From this experience I learned that music and dance elements can be tied to any lesson!” Felecia Madison, sixth grade teacher, L R Jackson.

Teachers and principals also remarked about the value of taking these students to this amazing arts facility to see such a professional production, noting that many of them had never crossed the bridge before this experience.

Sandy Kozik, DeltaARTS’ Artistic Director, would like to send a special thank you to Christie Wilson, District Literacy Coordinator, who helped him select a variety of grade specific Nutcracker themed books to incorporate in the Read Aloud Programs at both schools.

We also thank Arkansas Arts Council for their support of this most important and inspiring program. Next semester the students will focus on the Assemblage Art exhibit by Karen Kapps at ASU Mid- South and create their own found object works of art to hang permanently in their upcoming new school!

Teaching artist Patty Carreras and kindergarten students at L.R. Jackson creating rhythmic hand dances.

Focus school students arriving at the Cannon Center in Memphis for the Nut Remix performance.

Students and teacher, Patricia Turner, enjoying the Nut Remix performance.

2016-2017 Arts Focus Schools

L.R. Jackson Elementary & Wonder Elementary


The Mighty Souls Brass Band is the Focus Work of Art for 2016-17. They performed for both focus schools on November 16, 2016, at the Academies of West Memphis Performing Arts Center.

A school-wide parade was held on March 17, 2017, for both Focus Schools in the Wonder Elementary gymnasium. Parents, faculty, staff, and students strutted their stuff and students showed off the umbrellas they had decorated during their preparatory residencies. Teaching artists worked with the students to study New Orleans-themed culture, art, music, and choreography.




Enjoy the following clips from the Mighty Souls’ Focus School performances! (Click on each link to view the files.)