County BOE continues arts alliance partnership


Art lessons will continue being provided for Walker County schools.

At a meeting on June 11, Walker County Board of Education members approved to provide $32,000 in funding to the Walker County Arts Alliance to provide art programs in county schools.

The arts alliance has offered art programs in county and city schools for a number of years.

Kate Gurganus, the administrative coordinator for the Walker County Arts Alliance, addressed board members at the school board meeting earlier this month and reviewed the educational art lessons that are taught in county schools each year.   

Billie Seales does a storytelling program with students to share Alabama history stories and holds creative writing lessons in classrooms around Walker County. Ruth Manasco teaches Native American history to students, and, with the help of assistant Maria Dawes, helps inspire students' creativity through pottery classes.

Cindy Laing teaches a monthly second-grade music program where students sing and learn music beats, and Sarah O'Mary Roberts leads a visual arts program for third-grade students.

In the spring, Jennifer Williams Smith partnered with the arts alliance to bring the dreamFIT dance and fitness program for special needs students at Valley, Curry and Oakman elementary/middle schools to enjoy.  

The dreamFIT program was introduced in Jasper in 2015 for people of all abilities to dance and exercise in a group, and dreamFIT classes are also held in Jasper City Schools.

"In our schools, the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) initiative is very much prevalent, as it should be," Walker County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joel Hagood said in a statement last year. "The Walker County Arts Alliance is great at supplementing that art piece out in our schools."  

Outside of the arts alliance's school programs, the organization provides a number of community events each year in Walker County, including Art in the Park, dinner theater, A Tasting of the Arts, and outdoor summer concerts at the Bankhead House & Heritage Center. The Walker County Arts Alliance also sponsors a number of art exhibits in the county and founded the 50-Mule Art Project.