AWE History

In the Summer of 2006 Rick Williams, Dean of the Arts Division at Lane Community College met with Rosaria Haugland of the Haugland Foundation to discuss starting an arts consortium that would train teaching artists and high school teachers to integrate arts learning processes into core academic curricula.

Mr. Williams is a nationally awarded photographer, scholar, teacher and developer of innovative visual communication theories and practices. He co-authored, with Dr. Julianne H. Newton, Visual Communication: Integrating Media, Art and Science. He and Newton developed and promoted a theory of integrative mind that suggests that by learning to use all of the cognitive modalities of the mind in integrative practices, students would enhance their learning and performance across disciplines.

Williams was introduced to Michelle Swanson, a founding Partner in Swanson & Cosgrave Educational Consulting and a national leader in project-based learning. Together they founded ArtsWork in Education (formerly, Oregon Integrative Arts Partnership). Soon after, Dio Morles, an educational consultant, and Deb Brzoska, a nationally known Kennedy Center arts integration specialist, joined ArtsWork in Education (AWE) to help facilitate the program and provide training.

With funding from the Haugland Foundation, AWE held an introductory, two-day workshop in November 2006 at Lane Community College. The event drew nearly 150 interested teachers, administrators and artists. In Spring 2007, AWE piloted integrated arts projects in 8 classrooms at Springfield's Academy of Arts and Academics, and at North Eugene High School's Academy of Arts.

Through the generous support of the Haugland Foundation AWE expanded its projects in 2007-08 from 8 to 38 classrooms and from 2 to 10 schools. By Fall 2008, AWE had also received support from the Oregon Cultural Trust and developed partnerships with the Oregon Arts Commission, the University of Oregon, Lane Arts Council, and school districts throughout the state.

ArtsWork in Education (AWE) is currently implementing best practices in arts integration at middle and high schools in the Eugene, Springfield and Cottage Grove school districts. Since 2007, AWE has:

  • Trained more than 300 teachers and artists from 20 schools in 17 districts; and
  • Placed 15 teaching artists in 82 classrooms serving approximately 3,000 students.

AWE is currently discussing arts integration development in the high schools in Portland with the Regional Arts and Culture Commission, Young Audiences, the Pacific Northwest College of Art and Portland Community College, and is participating in the development of a statewide arts education consortium.