Press Releases and Blogs

Monmouth TARTANS, Students Share Rural Teacher Corps Experience

At a recent Rural Schools Collaborative visioning and planning meeting held at Monmouth College students from the TARTANS rural teacher corps program shared experiences from the program and answered questions from a national audience of rural educators.

 

TARTANS stands for Teachers Allied with Rural Towns and Neighborhood Schools and is a program not only developing rural teachers, but is an effort to improve the quality of life in rural schools and communities.  The program is designed after the Ozark Teacher Corps in Missouri and the national model that is developing from that work.  Pictured are TARTANS students:  Alex Johnson, Holly Reyner, Mckenzie Campbell, and Elizabeth Reasoner.

 

This program along with work at Western Illinois University, Eastern Illinois University, Quincy University and Southern Illinois University is part of a statewide effort to address the significant and growing teacher shortage in rural schools throughout Illinois.  AIRSS is an advocate for the development of a more robust rural teacher corps program and continuing to seek support at the state level for this work.

 

For specific information on the TARTANS program check out the website  monmouthcollege.edu/academics/educational-studiesor contact Michelle Holschuh-Simmons (msimmons@monmouthcollege.edu) or Tammy LaPrad (TLAPRAD@monmouthcollege.edu)

Non-Profit Arts Sector is Economic Engine for Peoria

The Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools (AIRSS) is excited to share the first of what we hope is many Official Proclamations to come in support of Arts in Education. It is an honor to partner and support this important cause with Miss Illinois 2019 - Ariel Beverly and we thank the City of Peoria and Mayor Jim Ardis for their commitment to the arts in the Peoria community and schools.

Beverly meeting with Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis, who signed a Proclamation designating September 15 as Peoria Arts in Education Day.

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For Immediate Release:

Ariel Beverly

508 S. Park Avenue

Herrin, IL 62948

Cell: 618-713-2216  Office: 618-967-8637

 

September 10, 2019

 

Non-Profit Arts Sector is Economic Engine for Peoria

 

ILLINOIS – While touring Illinois schools during this National Arts in Education Week (September 8 – 14), Miss Illinois Ariel Beverly is reaching out to mayors and other elected officials to support the arts in high school and recognize its impact on students.

 

One of Beverly’s stops was to meet with Mayor Jim Ardis who signed a proclamation declaring September 15 as Arts in Education Day in Peoria. The city’s arts community is becoming a destination for arts in the Midwest with museums showcasing Smithsonian exhibits, a Civic Center Theater, Sculpture Walk and the Peoria Symphony Orchestra.

 

“The nonprofit arts sector is a huge economic engine in our community and as the proclamation says, ‘we know that arts education enables students to develop critical thinking skills, imagination, discipline, and ways to express their feelings, all of which support academic success across the curriculum as well as personal growth outside the classroom,’” Ardis said.

 

Beverly has witnessed a decline of the arts and art funding in schools firsthand. As a former art student, art teacher, and now art advocate, she wants to see an art teacher in every school Currently, more than 80% of Illinois do not require students to take a single course in the arts in order to graduate.

 

“Another reason we need art in our schools is because low income students with a low participation in the arts have a 22% dropout rate,” Beverly said. “On the other hand, students with a high participation in the arts have only a 4% dropout rate.”

 

Although arts education is comprised of a wide array of disciplines such as music, theater, visual arts, media arts, literature, design and visual arts; many of those skills integrate with the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program through projects like 3-D design printing, coding or digital art.

 

According to Beverly, students who are part of a STEM program gain a competitive edge when they also study art. This concept provides a holistic approach to learning spurring students to be innovative and think creatively.

 

“I saw students who had a fear of not being perfect or not having perfect grades,” Beverly said. “The arts can help with those issues because they learn that art allows for creativity and not being perfect. They get a chance to experience using a different part of their mind that they’re not using as much.”

 

To learn more about the #IncludeTheArts initiative or partnering with Miss Illinois Ariel Beverly in advocating for the arts and raising awareness in the Illinois school system, e-mail Media@MissIllinoisEvents.com or call her media representative at 618-713-2216.

Miss Illinois - Power of Wonder

Photo Credit: Samantha McCann Photography

 

The opportunity to partner with Miss Illinois Ariel Beverly made a lot of sense as we sat at the boardroom table and discussed the possibilities. What I thought might happen and the positive impact to children was obvious. What I was not prepared for was the impact this partnership would have on me personally and professionally.

What I witnessed during and my thoughts after our first round of school visits of the kick-off to Miss Illinois’ statewide tour was very profound and worth sharing with each of you.

The school visits offered me an important reminder to never forget the power of wonder or the sense of awe in the eyes and minds of our rural children. Eyes wide open, mouths agape, and bodies and feet frozen in place and time, all the while a princess entered the room, sat in the cafeteria, shared time in a classroom, walked down the hall or entered the front door to their own castle (schoolhouse).

It is so important to see the world through the eyes of a child and share experiences that they understand, observe or just simply need. Sometimes we get caught up in the value of, the impact of, or the defined outcomes of something big, fancy and expensive and not just allow learning to take place right where they are with what they see and feel.

I know from feedback that has been shared by Superintendents of schools visited, this was a highlight of the week and was very valuable to all involved. I watched the interactions, listened to the questions and conversations, and observed children of all ages mesmerized but engaged with Ariel as they discussed a myriad of issues the students cared about.

Thank you again to the schools that allowed us on short notice to interrupt the traditional school day and learning process to create a special opportunity for the children of each respective school.

Always supporting our rural schools,
David M. Ardrey – Executive Director (AIRRS)

AIRSS Announces Partnership with Miss Illinois

MACOMB, IL

August 29, 2019

Miss Illinois 2019 Ariel Beverly and the Association of Illinois Rural

and Small Schools have joined forces to advocate for increased access to arts and general

education in Illinois schools.

Miss Beverly began her reign as Miss Illinois after being crowned in June at the state

competition in Marion. Beverly, who grew up in East Moline, is a former high school art

teacher who recognizes the important role that arts education plays in young people’s

success. The overarching goal of her reign as Miss Illinois is to have at least one arts

education teacher in every school.

With that goal in mind, Beverly and the Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools

(AIRSS) will be working in tandem to raise awareness of the needs of rural schools

across the state. As the only statewide organization focused on promoting and

enhancing education in rural and small schools, AIRSS gives identity, voice and

recognition to schools and communities from every part of Illinois.

“It’s a great opportunity for both of us,” says David Ardrey, executive director of

AIRSS, about the partnership. “Ariel will be able to raise visibility for her arts in

education platform, and it will help us raise awareness of our focus on all issues facing

rural schools.”

Miss Illinois’s goal to increase arts in education throughout the state fits well with the

goals of AIRSS, Ardrey says. “Rural schools have less access to all education; not just the

arts, but upper level math, science and foreign language.”

There are more than 500 school districts in Illinois represented by AIRSS, Ardrey says.

Of the 102 counties in the state, 101 have at least one rural district, as defined by federal

and state guidelines (Cook County being the only one without).

AIRSS is a passionate advocate for rural schools and furthermore the rural way of life.

“We fight the sometimes negative image of rural people being from the sticks,”

Ardrey says.

In noting that all but one of Illinois’ counties has a rural district, Ardrey argues against

any perception that this is “just a downstate problem. It is not, there are rural schools

statewide." Just under half a million students in Illinois attend a rural school, he says.

“This partnership gives us the opportunity to connect with Ariel and what she’s doing,”

he added, regarding Beverly’s arts in education platform. “It’s a natural fit.”

This matchup is poised to increase awareness of the need for Illinois to provide students

access to comprehensive educational programs. Beverly is launching a tour across the

state in September to visit with school and political leaders and to participate in events

at schools and local festivals. She is challenging Illinois state classrooms to compete for

an opportunity to win $1,000 in art supplies by creating their own works of art.

During her #IncludeTheArts tour, Beverly will be distributing thousands of blank

postcards for students to create their own masterpiece. AIRSS will facilitate the

distribution of these postcards to the more than 500 rural school districts in Illinois.

Beverly plans to personally deliver the cards to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker at the end of

National Arts in Education Week which runs September 8th through 14th. This

campaign intends to spark a discussion about the importance of art education in schools

as well as the positive impact it has on young people.

Also, at that time she will announce the classroom with the winning submission. The

winning classroom will receive a $1,000 grant to be used for art education supplies.

Beverly hopes to make this an annual event.

For further information about the AIRSS organization, contact David Ardrey at

execdir@airssedu.org .

To contact the Miss Illinois organization to help arrange an event or for further

information, visit includethearts.com, or www.illinois.org. Follow her on Facebook (Miss Illinois), Twitter (@MissAmericaIL), and Instagram (@MissAmericaIL).

Carbondale, Illinois

December 27, 2015

We invite you to read Sarah Halasz Graham's third and final installment in a journalistic series that explores the causes behind, impacts of, and solutions to rural brain drain. It is not inevitable that bright young people must leave small towns and out-of-the way places, but stemming the tide will take thoughtful and intentional efforts. Click here to read the Southern Illinoisan article in its entirety.

 

The Gone Generation: Turning the rural brain drain into a ...

 

 

 

In my role as Executive Director of AIRSS, I was contacted by Ms. Halasz Graham and asked to meet her for a cup of coffee.  Sarah and I spent several hours talking about rural and small schools and communities, and the issues that impact our schools.  To my delight this reporter also wanted to talk about solutions.  Sarah's passion for the rural brain drain and rural school disparity is genuine and she is committed to using her voice to bring this issue to the forefront of a statewide and national conversation. 

We encourage you to check out Graham's second piece in the series, Generation Gone. Graham is a graduate of Northwestern University and writes for the Southern Illinoisan, which is based out of Carbondale, IL.


David Ardrey, Executive Director
Illinois Association of Rural and Small Schools

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Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools

Office: Horrabin Hall #115G
Macomb, Illinois 61455

Phone: 618.924.8218

Email: execdir@airssedu.org 

© 2019 by The Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools

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