Information for Classroom Teachers

Through The ArtsCenter’s Artist Residency program, professional Teaching Artists engage your students in arts-based learning experiences.  The arts are used in the classroom setting to enhance learning, reaching students with various learning styles, and offering hands-on educational experiences while exposing students to a variety of art forms.

Focus Schools

The ArtsCenter and the Orange County School System have renewed the Focus School program, which enables Title 1 schools in the Orange County School system to receive Artist Residencies and to attend a School Show at no cost.  Our Focus School Residency integrates the arts into the classroom over a 5-day residency.  Residencies connect both to the School Show your classes will be attending, and to the subject of your choice (math, social studies, literature, etc).  Days can be consecutive or spread over a longer period of time and are most often scheduled with 4 sessions taking place before the School Show and 1 session taking place after the show.  Generally, an artist will spend the morning with your grade level, moving between classrooms at 45-minute-to-1-hour intervals.  Our residencies are designed to teach curriculum in new and exciting ways and are fun for students and teachers alike!

Teachers at Central Elementary, New Hope Elementary, and Efland Cheeks Elementary schools can register for School Shows and corresponding Artist Residencies by filling out the Focus School Program Registration FormMore information on our 2015-2016 School Shows is available here. 

Focus School Registration

For more information, help choosing an art form, or questions about the reservation process, contact the School & Family Programs Coordinator at (919) 929-2787 x. 214 or via email at  The Focus School Program is made possible through a partnership with Orange County Schools and the generous support of The Grable Foundation, The Nicholson Foundation, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Orange County Arts Commission.

Art Forms and Examples from 2014-2015

Visual Art

Our Teaching Artists are trained in a wide variety of visual art forms including (but not limited to) mask and puppet making, ceramics, painting, photography, and drawing.  Visual art education provides children with a wide skill set, teaching innovation, creative problem-solving, and spatial reasoning, among other important skills (PBS).  Visual art residencies are particularly effective for enhancing math, language arts and science lessons.

  • Ceramics artist Jason Abide led a visual arts residency connected with the School Show Storytelling by Donna Washington at Central Elementary School.  Jason is a veteran ceramics teacher who works with children year-round at The ArtsCenter.  The 3rd grade attended Storytelling on April 30th.  The classroom teachers and Art teacher at Central worked with Jason to develop a residency based on the life-cycle of a plant, which children had been studying in class.  Each student created a series of 4 ceramic tiles representing the life-cycles.  After the residency, Jason created mosaics from the students’ ceramic tiles and installed them in the school as a permanent exhibit.
  • Also at Central, actor and puppetry artist Cameron Prevatte completed a residency with the 4th grade classes.  Students created shadow puppets, learned about light sources and the mechanics of movement, and developed and performed scenes using their puppets.


Music can enhance classroom learning by energizing learning experiences, aiding in memorization and understanding, increasing attention, building community, and allowing children time for creative expression (Johns Hopkins University).

  • Musician Charles Pettee returned to the PreK and Kindegarten classrooms at New Hope Elementary this year to lead a residency in connection with The ArtsCenter’s presentation of The Rainbow Fish, a musical by ArtsPower.  During the residency, Pettee read the story of The Rainbow Fish and introduced students to characters through song, connecting each character with a different musical instrument.  Children were prepared to attend the performance and learned the themes of the story, such as sharing and community, through this residency.

Dance And Movement

Dance and movement are often used to teach about world cultures in our residencies.  Students and teachers appreciate this time to get up and move around, which helps students connect with each other, builds confidence, and gives children a creative outlet (The Inspired Classroom). Dance and movement are very popular choices for our Artist Residencies!

  • Dance and theatre artist Katie Moorehead worked with the Kindergarten classes at Central Elementary, emphasizing shapes and rhythm.  Students created shapes with their bodies and each other, learned about tempos and levels, and danced to African music before attending the School Show Jabali African Acrobats at The ArtsCenter.
  • For the 2nd grade classes at Central, creative movement instructor Virginia Danford taught a residency exploring the relationship between vibration and sound.  Students learned to work together through improvised movement exercises and explored world cultures through dance and music.

Dramatic Art

Drama is another popular choice for our residencies.  Our Teaching Artists have used readers’ theatre, scene work and improvisation to enhance concepts from reading comprehension to American history.  Utilizing drama in the classroom can improve verbal cognition and expression, increase self-esteem and confidence, prepare students for public speaking activities, build reading comprehension, among many other benefits (American Alliance for Theatre & Education).  In addition, drama activities as well as watching theatrical performances helps students connect to material on a deeper level.

  • Theatre and movement artist Virginia Queen Danford taught a residency with the 5th grade classes at Central, in connected to the School Show Let It Shine: The American Civil Rights Movement, by Bright Star Children’s Theatre, which the 5th grade attended at The ArtsCenter.  Curriculum connections that were addressed through this theatre residency included History and Language Arts. The students used reader’s theatre and improvisational techniques to learn about acting and historical figures and events such as Sit-Ins, the Freedom Rides, and Rosa Parks.
  • Virginia also conducted a residency with New Hope Elementary’s 5th grade classes.  Students learned about segregation and integration through the story of Jackie Robinson.  In addition to performing historical scenes, students learned words and movements to “Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?”, which they performed at The ArtsCenter after attending School Show Jackie Robinson: A Game Apart, by Mike Wiley.