Integrating Art: Students Collaborate in Curriculum Creation


Many opportunities exist for Trinity students to gain hands on experience through internships. In addition, professors plan projects that offer students ways to collaborate with companies and organizations, enhancing classroom learning and providing a service to the partnering organizations.

During the fall semester, students in the course Fine Arts Education worked alongside members of a strategic planning committee for a new school in the Chicago neighborhood of Roseland. The project, and the course, examined ways to integrate visual arts, music, drama, and dance into the future curriculum.

Each semester, Dr. Bill Boerman-Cornell, associate professor of education, arranges a semester-long project with a different school or organization to help offer art activities to the children being served.

Boerman-Cornell is part of a committee investigating the possibility of beginning Roseland Christian Academy. This initiative follows the closing of the 129-year-old Roseland Christian School in 2013 and the still-present need for a high caliber Christian elementary school in this high-needs community.

On the first day of class, Trinity students viewed a past fundraising video about Roseland not realizing the school had been closed. Boerman-Cornell said the students were deeply affected by the eventual realization, but that disappointment quickly changed to determination as they were told their assignment: work throughout the semester to help build a curriculum for a new school.

The Trinity students worked in five groups, each focused on an aspect of art, including visual arts, writing, dance, music, and drama. For each category, the students developed a grid that included every grade and the various ways the fine arts could be integrated into every subject.

Former Roseland Principal Mathew James said the work of the Trinity students “has shaped what the new Roseland will look like.”

The project has also been formational for the Trinity students.

“This course has changed the way I think about teaching,” said Chad Westenbroek ’15 of Ontario, California. “It has shown me all the work that goes into creating a curriculum and that I have the creative potential as a teacher that I didn’t realize I had before.”

Sophomore Paige Van Wolde of Dyer, Indiana, realized the importance of the arts in education. “The arts give children a voice,” said Van Wolde. “Through all of the research, I saw the ways the arts will give the children of Roseland a voice, which every child should have.”

James said the research students conducted provided foundational material that would aide future staff who would otherwise have had to spend time conducting research in addition to planning classes and teaching. He said another contribution from the students’ efforts included investigating the use of space for art activities.

The collaboration, which also involved students attending the committee meetings, presents the potential for ongoing opportunities for Trinity education students such as student teaching positions and other internships.