#ArtsMatterDay MVP: Framingham Public Schools


Each year at the end of October, MASSCreative and advocacy partners take to social media to celebrate #ArtsMatterDay. This year, hundreds of organizations and individuals engaged in #ArtsMatterDay by posting photos and videos and sharing all the ways that arts make a difference in their lives. #ArtsMatterDay even trended on Twitter!  

Going beyond an online day of action, several partners took #ArtsMatterDay to the next level by incorporating the theme into their programming. Donna Wresinski, Fine and Performing Arts Director for Framingham Public Schools brings #ArtsMatterDay into every arts classroom in the district, making it an interactive day of action for the arts! We invited Donna to share how she uses #ArtsMatterDay to boost engagement in the arts in Framingham.

As the Director of Fine and Performing Arts for Framingham Public Schools, part of my vision is to find a way to build an art community with over 60 arts teachers spread between 15 buildings, and to feel the power that arts education brings to a school, a district, and a city. One of the ways I have been able to do that is through a partnership with MASSCreative and their #ArtsMatterDay initiative.

#ArtsMatterDay gave me the opportunity to connect our district to a statewide advocacy group. Four years ago, I got the buy-in of every arts teacher and school Principal by saying it would be embarrassing for a school district as big as Framingham not to be involved in a statewide day of action to support the arts!  We started small and now #ArtsMatterDay is an expected part of every arts teacher’s curriculum.

The first year, every school did something. I created a Google Doc, shared MASSCreative’s #ArtsMatterDay information, and asked the arts teachers to think about how they could add to the excitement of the day in their own building. Everyone could then see what their colleagues were planning. Some of the Principals were all in--they adjusted their schedules and organized community meetings. That first year, I got in my car at 7:30AM, and started off by visiting Framingham High School. There, we had a drop-in art table in the cafeteria and a video station set up so students could answer the question "Why do Arts Matter to you?” I only made it to 8 schools. 

The next year, Framingham welcomed a new Superintendent, Dr. Robert Tremblay, and in him I found my partner in this initiative. Now the “ask” to each teacher was to find a way to make the art interactive. That way, when Dr. Tremblay and I visited their school, we could actually do art with the kids. With new ideas to share, the teachers really stepped up their game. We also created a Framingham Fine and Performing Arts website and Twitter account so the build-up to the day was all over our social media and in my weekly arts newsletter. That year, Dr. Tremblay and I made it to every school. We talked to kids at every level about why arts matter. We had courtyard concerts, interactive bulletin boards, and captured photos and videos through the day. At the end of that year, our communications manager, Rochelle Santos, made a highlights video which we shared on social media and at a school committee meeting to highlight the success of that day.

Dr. Robert Tremblay, Superintendent Framingham
Public Schools

This year, we kicked it up a notch. We set an ambitious schedule with 15 minutes at each school and 15 minutes of travel time between each one. With a clear schedule in place, teachers and principals were ready for our arrival. Not only did Dr. Tremblay and I take our rainbow tour, but we were joined by State Representative Jack Lewis and our communications manager Rochelle Santos.Even our own Mayor, Yvonne Spicer, found the time to join us at our preschool to enjoy a full school mini concert,and she sang and danced right along with us. 

Rep. Jack Lewis of Framingham

The arts events get bigger and better with each year. This year, we played drums with students at two schools. Dr. Tremblay AND Representative Jack Lewis played the trumpet with one of our middle school jazz bands and we designed and made arts matter buttons in a drama class after a discussion about the importance of arts in education with 13 year olds. Our high school did a series of art installations that are still up today! This year, every principal participated in every event. It is no longer just #ArtsMatterDay in Framingham - this initiative has made it clear that arts matter every day.

Planning for next year is already underway. Dr. Tremblay wants to take a van next year and add a GoPro so we can do some “Arts Car Karaoke” between schools and also record our reactions to each event. I think the secret to our #ArtsMatterDay success lies in competition. Our Principals and our arts teachers want their #ArtsMatterDay events to be the absolute best for their students  

I wish I could say I came up with the idea,  but I have to thank MASSCreative for providing me with an inspiring concept and easy to use tools to make the day my own.  Then, I made everyone feel like this is the most important day of the year! Now in Framingham Public Schools, everyone knows that #ArtsMatterDay is when adults and kids get together to connect, celebrate, and reflect on the power of arts in education. It doesn't get more important than that. 

image11.jpgRep. Jack Lewis, Mayor Yvonne Spicer,
Donna Wresinski, and Dr. Robert Tremblay

Donna Wresinski is the Director of Fine and Performing Arts for the Framingham Public School District and lives in Mashpee. 



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