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Introducing Columbia County School for the Arts

After talking with Michael Berg, a founding board member of the Columbia County School for the Arts (CCSFTA) in Evans, GA, we were excited to learn about the creative mission of this aspiring charter school. Poised to be the first charter in its county, Berg and his colleagues aim to provide an arts-based curriculum for students grades K-12. Many local community members have expressed their support and Berg believes that their grassroots movement is gaining momentum.

The decision to establish the school with a focus on the arts was made based on an expressed need from parents and educators who felt the county would benefit from a school that incorporated arts into its curriculum. The Columbia County School for the Arts will incorporate music, drama, dance, visual arts and foreign languages into a regular core curriculum of math, science, language and social studies to allow students to have a more creative and well-rounded education. Berg believes strongly that “creativity fosters literacy” and effective schools need to consider the diversity of students’ learning styles when developing models of education.

As a special education teacher for the past 22 years, Berg has had firsthand experience with the many ways that the arts can be used to benefit children and increase their academic achievement. His passion for charter schools developed after he had the realization that traditional public schools often don’t cater to different types of learners and can discourage students from being excited about their education.

Like many charter educators across the country, CCSFTA founding members have a unique vision for how best to serve potential students, and the culmination of many sources of inspiration and frustration were what led them to this endeavor. Over the past few years, Berg grew frustrated with the lack of praise that he saw for students in public schools whose strengths lie in the arts or humanities, and felt that far more emphasis was placed on athletics than creativity. Berg’s vision, in conjunction with his fellow founding members, is to create a school that encourages the synchronicity of rigorous academics and creative expression, which will allow for students to have a more tailored program more suited to their individual needs they wouldn’t be able to obtain in a traditional public school environment.

Parents in the district have already shown strong interest in sending their children to Columbia County School for the Arts, and teachers from across the country have begun applying for positions. While there are still several steps that need to be taken before the school is ready to open, the future looks positive. We look forward to hearing more about the Columbia County School for the Arts and how it, like many other charter schools across the nation, can provide a quality alternative for students in need of another educational option.

Bethany Tietjen, Intern

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