Christopher Alleman: Arts background will help improve student outcomes
Summit School District board candidate
- Occupation: producing artistic director for Lake Dillon Theatre Co.
- Hometown: Silverthorne
- Years in Summit County: 7
- Family: husband, Josh Blanchard; son, Lincoln
- Civic involvement: Silverthorne Elementary School PTA president; Silverthorne Accountability Committee member; Arts of the Summit member; and volunteer for the following organizations: Summit High School Theatre Department, The Summit Foundation, Family and Intercultural Resource Center, Community Care Clinic, National Repertory Orchestra
As a Summit County resident for 17 years, I feel blessed to be a part of this special community. My family — husband, Josh, and son, Lincoln — and I love Summit County and all that it has to offer. The county maintains a refreshingly strong value of giving, and I would find it an honor to give back to this community beyond my current role at the Lake Dillon Theatre Co. by serving on the Summit School District board of education. Serving on the board is a civic responsibility that I will fulfill with a perspective and skill set uniquely mine. I have more than 30 years of experience in arts education and have built a strong theater education program at the Lake Dillon Theatre Co. My knowledge of arts education and the impact it has for youths, adults and the broader community fuels my passion for education. With a first grader currently enrolled in the dual language program at Silverthorne Elementary School, I am interested in supporting all aspects of education, from language arts to outdoor education to the sciences. Furthermore, I have 17 years of fundraising, budgeting, strategic planning and implementation, capital improvement and construction oversight, and staff management experience that allow me to look through a lens of long-term planning and strategic decision making.
Invest in the mental health of our students
While organizations including Building Hope, the Community Care Clinic and The Summit Foundation have made great efforts to reduce stigma and directly address issues associated with poor mental health in our community over the past few years, Summit County continues to have some of the largest numbers per capita for mental health issues and suicide in the nation. This epidemic will not go away by ignoring it or becoming complacent. Studies show how poor mental health can affect people of all ages, including children and teens. Investing in the mental health of our students through broadened educational outreach and extended mental health services is a long-term commitment that will better position our youths for brighter futures.
Prioritize arts integration learning
As a lifelong artist and arts advocate, I believe that arts integration in our schools will improve the outcomes of our students. Many nationwide studies by independent researchers suggest that students involved in arts-based learning think more critically and creatively in all areas of learning, including math and sciences, than students who are not given adequate access to arts education through arts integration. Arts integration is not simply providing opportunities for students to learn about the arts in schools, but rather uses the arts as a teaching tool for subjects like science, math, history and reading. Children who are introduced to the arts at an early age have increased critical thinking and problem solving skills to their counterparts. Our STEM elementary schools could incorporate arts-based learning programs to become STEAM schools. The arts are the tools needed to shape our youths into better students today and better citizens tomorrow.
Improve teacher retention rate
According to a number of independent studies, including one recently conducted by the Learning Policy Institute, schools that experience high teacher turnover rates see a direct correlation to a variety of negative impacts on student achievement. Students in schools with low teacher retention suffer academically because of high substitute teacher use, canceled classes, and inexperienced and underprepared teachers. If we as a community expect high quality education for our youths, then we must examine the many factors — including high costs of living, seasonality and work-related stress — contributing to challenges relating to low teacher retention and high teacher turnover numbers.
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