Click through to take a virtual tour. Academy for Integrated Arts is a PK-6 charter school with a focus on integrating the arts into all aspects of student learning. AFIA is led by the belief that students are able to make connections between all of the different subjects they study with art as a connector. Students that live within the Kansas City Public Schools boundaries are able to attend.
This is Dr. Tricia DeGraff. She is the Executive Director at Academy for Integrated Arts. Dr. DeGraff believes that integrating the arts into curriculum deepens student learning. Students at AFIA work on projects to explore topics deeply. Their learning combines the core subject areas like math, science, reading, writing and social studies. When students finish a project, they share their learning with the AFIA community including staff, parents, and community members.
Students are bussed to AFIA each day. Parents can also drop students off. Students at AFIA are required to wear uniforms of navy or khaki bottoms and any color polo shirt.
In the morning, AFIA staff members greet students at the door and welcome them to school.
Student artwork is on display all over AFIA. Here, visitors are treated to a display that includes student pottery, painting, and mixed media sculpture.
Student artwork guides visitors into the building and demonstrates student learning across subject areas. The AFIA building is a former bowling alley that AFIA renovated to suit its students' needs.
When students head to class, they hang their belongings on a hook outside of the classroom.
Students have a strong voice in their classroom communities. This Pre-K/Kinder class voted to have a pet bearded dragon. His name is Jack. Jack is involved in some lessons. In this case, students are brainstorming ideas for how to create a maze for Jack. They are sharing their ideas for it here. AFIA is built on a constructivist learning model. That means that teachers provide students the tools and experiences they need to construct their own knowledge.
The pet bearded dragon is held by one of the students in class. (Students can elect to read and work in the cozy area created by the cube in the background.)
Here is the maze in progress! Students worked on the carpet or used stools like the one in the background to sit on as they designed together.
AFIA uses a project approach in their learning model. This artwork was designed by students to solve a problem they were researching. They explained their design process and thinking as part of the project.
As part of their themed unit “Commotion in the Ocean”, PreK and Kindergarten students learned about different types of fish. This science work was then integrated into the persuasive writing project displayed here. Students wrote about their favorite fish and what characteristics they liked best.
All students make use of this in-house makerspace where they get supplies for their class projects. Students come to this space weekly for a class. They also go to visual arts and theater arts enrichment classes weekly.
Parents play a pivotal role at AFIA. Here, parents are having a meal with students before the bi-annual student showcase begins. The showcase is a chance for students to show off their work and parents show up in droves to see it and learn from their kids.
In this classroom, third grade students work collaboratively on a writing assignment in small table groups. Much of the work at AFIA is collaborative and all students experience being “experts” at different times throughout the day.
These posters were created as part of a collaboration with a Kansas City Young Audience teaching artist. Upper grade students combined writing and science in their study of biology. These poems are part of a larger student-directed investigation that culminated with a dance performance during a public showcase of students' learning.
Student self portraits dominate this open classroom space where speakers and teachers talk to classes in small groups.
These first grade students have breakfast in class as they prepare for the day. Breakfast and lunch are provided free of charge to every student at AFIA.
All classrooms at AFIA are designed to maximize space and natural light. Students at all grade levels have open work space, desk space, and flexible seating options. They have lots of opportunities to move around throughout the day.
Teachers and tutors have access to collaborative work spaces in the hallways. Here a student gets one on one support with learning.
The gym also serves as an auditorium and an overall gathering place. On this day, parents and students are having a meal together.
In the library, students have many books to choose from. They are organized by subject.
These first grade students are using flexible seating during work time in class. Students at AFIA are encouraged to reflect on their own learning needs and make choices that work best for them, their work style, and the project they need to complete.
This fifth grade students works alone on a reading assignment.
Outside of this sixth grade room, students are reminded to consider their thoughts words and actions. Messages of justice and inclusion are exhibited throughout the building and integrated into student learning.
AFIA believes that focusing on social emotional learning strengthens academic learning. AFIA pulls from Responsive Classroom, Conscious Discipline, Mind UP and Mindful Schools. The systems of support focus on helping students build skills and strategies to make strong, positive choices. They also provide opportunities for students to reflect on their actions and fit in naturally with the reflective nature of much of the work at the school.
These 6th grade students take a brain break during class. As a part of the school’s culture, students are able to integrate movement into all parts of their school day. When they finish one subject or as they brainstorm new ideas, they are encouraged to move around the room. In this case, they pass a beach ball to one another.
This mural was completed entirely by students to demonstrate their learning about social justice and inequality.
Once each week, AFIA staff and students get together for a community meeting called “Harambee”. Students sing songs, perform dances, and show appreciation to one another and build their school community.