The Tennessee Arts Academy each summer attracts a diverse, enthusiastic group of K-12 arts educators for intensive training in the areas of music, theatre and dance, visual art, and arts leadership. These same educators go back to their classrooms in the fall and profoundly impact thousands of young minds, creating a more beautiful, understanding, and meaningful world.
The Tennessee Arts Academy, a program of the Tennessee Department of Education, opened in 1986 during the reform movement of the 1980s. It has evolved into the nation's premier program for professional development in arts education.
The Academy trains over 300 teachers every summer, who in turn impact over 150,000 Tennessee students each year. The advanced curriculum, cutting-edge methodology and unique philosophical perspective offered at the Academy attract a diverse and enthusiastic group of K-12 educators from across the state. Leading academic instructors and talented artists form the rotating faculty, providing unparalleled instruction, community and renewal.
The Academy sessions are held on the campus of Belmont University in Nashville. The Academy consists of two divisions, one geared to elementary/lower middle school teachers and the other designed for upper middle/high school teachers. Participants in each division may choose from among six different tracks. Individual core tracks are offered in music, theatre and visual art. The Arts Leadership and Administration (ALAA) track, designed for arts administrators, supervisors and arts teachers, seeks to inspire and empower participants to support and advance arts education. The ALAA track offers practical and thought-provoking insight and strategies on national and state policy issues, advocacy and leadership opportunities. A special session entitled Arts Integration, Creative Drama and Movement is designed for elementary/lower middle classroom teachers who wish to learn ways to utilize arts integration techniques throughout the entire curriculum. To round out the offerings, the Trio Track session allows elementary and secondary teachers to attend classes each day in three arts areas - music, visual art and theatre.
A day at the Academy is varied and stimulating. Two to three sessions per day are spent studying with a faculty of experts from colleges and universities, studios and workplaces across the United States. In these classes the latest techniques are applied to instruction that will directly aid participants in their own teaching. In addition, each day features an artistic performance or art exhibition, the Academy's philosophical component called "Musings", and special choice sessions ("Interludes") that vary from day to day.
Throughout the week special events add interest to the regular schedule. Sunday night features an opening celebration and performance followed by an elegant reception. The day ends on Monday with the official opening of the professional artist exhibition, a special artist talk, and reception. Tuesday evening the Arts Academy hosts an art crawl and reception featuring three exclusive art exhibitions (the professional artist exhibition in the Leu Art Gallery, Tennessee's Best of the Best Student Art Exhibition in Gallery 121, and Connections: TAEA Teacher Art Exhibition in the Leu Visual Art Center lobby); high tea and music in the historic Belmont Mansion; open access to Belmont's Gig Museum and Frederick Hart Collection; and an awards ceremony honoring the student and teacher winners of the on-campus art exhibitions. Wednesday night's Academy Awards Banquet honors an outstanding national artist as participants are treated to a festive dinner meal and entertainment. The TAA Arts Expo, Vendor Fair, and Artist Market and a special Ice Cream Social for TAA alumni and friends are held on Thursday afternoon. The Academy week concludes with Friday’s Finale Luncheon, an event which includes a performance by the Academy Chorale as well as words of appreciation, closure and challenge. As participants depart, bittersweet farewells can be heard at the close of the busy but exciting week of study, learning and networking.
Since its inception, the Academy has reached teachers from all school districts in Tennessee. In 2002 with the addition of the Arts Academy America component, arts teachers from outside Tennessee now have the opportunity to become full participants in the Academy experience.
The Tennessee Arts Academy emerged from an expressed need by arts teachers for a staff development program to better meet the needs of a more assessment-based curriculum that emphasizes teacher accountability. Today, the vision for arts education shines brighter throughout Tennessee and the nation because of the ongoing success of the Academy. Teachers who have completed the rigorous TAA program are provided with the proper tools and direction to optimize their learning environment. Most importantly, teachers trained at the Tennessee Arts Academy are able to give students the necessary skills and experience that allow them to become more creative and productive members of our work force and society.
Tennessee is truly fortunate to be the home of this one-of-a-kind program that has become the national model for arts-based teacher training institutes.