How to Keep Arts Education Alive at School

Arts in Education

Maine’s young artists now have an opportunity to show what they can do, thanks to Julie Frum, a mom of two.

“I just love the opportunity for kids to get a chance to be creative,” says Julie.

When Julie moved to Maine from Louisville, Ky., she was disappointed to find no arts program at her school. She had a Reflections program at her school in Kentucky, but discovered there was no Reflections program anywhere in Maine.

For nearly 50 years, the National PTA Reflections program has inspired millions of students to explore their talents and be involved in the arts by creating works for fun and recognition.

According to Grace Hwang Lynch, a fellow mom in California, “Learning to create and appreciate visual aesthetics may be more important than ever to the development of the next generation of children as they grow up.”

Every year, students across the country submit original works of art in dance choreography, film production, literature, music composition, photography or visual arts—reflecting on the annual theme. There also is a special artist division to provide all students the opportunity to participate in the program. Winners are recognized at the state and national level.

Julie explains that Maine is a rural state and many children live in small communities. “It’s important to build self-confidence in young kids to see there’s a big world out there where they can move and work and succeed,” she says.

Despite efforts to restore the program after a 10-year hiatus, Maine PTA’s board did not have the capacity to make Reflections a reality. So Julie decided it was time to make a difference in her school community.

“Julie really stepped up to the plate,” says Ginny Mott, Maine PTA President. Ginny says this program is important because it offers more services and touches the lives of more children.

Starting in her children’s school, Julie spread the word and promoted the program, then joined the Maine PTA board to ignite the Reflections program statewide.

“If you want something done, you need to put yourself out there and do it,” says Julie. “I did it for the kids,” she added.

Julie Frum and Maine Reflections Winners

Julie Frum and two Maine 2014-2015 Reflections Winners.

And her efforts paid off because last spring four young artists stood before a room packed with family and friends and convention-goers to be recognized as Maine PTA’s Reflection winners.

“They came to the ‘big city’ to be recognized by Maine PTA. That was a big deal and I loved seeing the excitement on their faces,” says Julie.

The Reflections program is expanding throughout schools in Maine. Julie is happy to know that Reflections will reach more children and schools every year.

“There’s a whole big world out there and a lot of our kids don’t have this opportunity,” says Julie who is amazed by what students can create with words and pictures.

Ginny Mott agrees. “So often art programs are curtailed by budget cuts,” says Ginny. “Julie’s work strengthens what Maine PTA can offer all students in the state.”

This is the power of one committed and passionate leader.

Deborah Walsh is a National PTA Service Manager who works with PTAs across the country for over 10 years.

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