History of the BCPS Visual Arts Program

Art education began in Baltimore County as early as 1906 when lessons in Handwork and Drawing appeared in a document called, “Course of Study – Suggestions, Grades One to Four.” This “primary manual training” listed a sequence of lessons and described constructive work as a natural form of expression, correlated with Nature, History, Literature and Art. Drawing was included in outlined lessons, with related subject matter to develop “visual as well as aesthetic powers” through illustrative and objective drawing, design and picture study. Classroom teachers without specific art training presented these lessons.

An outlined course of study published in 1909 presented lessons in drawing for Grades One to Eight. The time devoted to drawing was one hour a week. The subject matter included seasonal coloring of plants and landscapes, illustrative work from history and literature, the decoration of such articles as the children had occasion to make during the year, and a study of the great masterpieces. “Handwork activities, Grades One to Four,” and “Manual Training, Grades Six to Eight,” were intended to be self-activities, and outlined as procedural steps. Classroom teachers taught these outlined courses under supervision.

In 1915 the course of study for the Baltimore County Schools was established with the aim to aid in the “expression of energy in terms of beauty.” Outlines following each month’s general subject matter were made for Grades One to Eight – “directed lessons to be followed by an undirected seat exercise.” The “Drawing for Grades One to Four,” and the “Fine Arts for the Grammar Grades” established a forward-looking philosophy of functional cultural values, developed with criticism and suggestions by Miss Olivia Keech, supervisor of Drawing in the Baltimore City Schools. Miss Keech also conducted meetings in which she outlined work for the teachers.

During the following years art education progressed according to the initiative and training of individual classroom teachers. The work in the elementary schools gradually came closer to the subject matter; teacher initiated activities pointed toward pupil-initiated activities; and stereotyped outlines were replaced by class projects.

In 1938, three specialist art teachers were placed in the high schools with a program in which two-thirds of the time were devoted to correlated art activities and one-third to elective art activities. Three more teachers were added in 1939, and a supervisor of art for elementary and high schools was appointed. The work was outlined to encourage creative units of study.

The role of the art teacher was to assist the classroom teacher as a resource person, and, in this capacity, met with each class for approximately one period every month. From 1952-1954, the Maryland State Department of Education conducted workshops to prepare a guide for art education that would help schools systems throughout the state in teacher training and curriculum development. Participant groups included elementary and high school classroom teachers, art teachers, general content supervisors, college instructors, and members of the State Department of Education. In 1954 the bulletin, “Art in Our Maryland,” was published. In 1957 a second art supervisor to specialize in the elementary schools was appointed.

Seventh, eighth, and ninth grade programs were revised. Curriculum bulletins were developed for high school advanced Fine Art and Commercial Art courses. Two experimental elective seminar programs were designed to reach more high school students. One seminar course focused on consumer, cultural, and leisure needs; the other focused on art history and cultural understandings. In the mid to late 1960’s, recognizing a need for a more articulated program from elementary to high school, more formal, sequenced curricula were developed for K-12 art education: Art for Children, 1960 and Art: Grade 9, 1969.

Elementary art helping teacher positions were created to work with other elementary art teachers. To encourage the use of the museum as a resource and support a developing art program-museum relationship, a museum liaison position was proposed in 1965-66 to conduct school tours to museums. By 1964, 130 art teachers staffed schools throughout the county.

(1906-1960’s Source: From a report by James B. Laubheimer, coordinator of art from 1965-1982, to the Baltimore County Public Schools Board of Education on the eve of his service, January 1965).

National interest in providing services to students who displayed high ability prompted the development of Baltimore County’s Gifted and Talented (GT) program. A Gifted and Talented Art resource teacher was appointed to work with art teachers to establish a GT art program and develop and facilitate an identification process. The primary role of the GT art resource teacher was to help art teachers address the needs of highly able art students.

Curricula for all programs continued to be developed annually by art teachers in summer curriculum workshops. Focus on Learning: An Approach to Teaching Art, written in 1971 was a definitive teacher resource for elementary through high school.

Central office staff providing support to the art program increased. By the mid-1980’s, five elementary instructional specialists were appointed for each of the five Baltimore County geographic areas. The instructional specialist position was part teacher, part resource teacher to the growing number of elementary art teachers. In addition to these school-based instructional specialists, the Office of Art was staffed by a museum liaison teacher, a GT art resource teacher, two art supervisors, and coordinator of art.

Nationally, discipline-based art education became a strong force in shifting the focus of art education from primarily a studio-based emphasis to studio experiences grounded in art history, culture, and art criticism. In Maryland, four main goals were identified and were adopted as the art program goals for Baltimore County:
1.Perceiving and Responding: The student will demonstrate the ability to perceive, interpret, and respond to ideas, experiences, and the environment through visual art.
2.Historical, Cultural and Social Context: The student will demonstrate an understanding of visual art as a basic aspect of history and human experience.
3.Creative Expression and Production: The student will demonstrate the ability to organize knowledge and ideas for expression in the production of art.
4.Aesthetic Criticism: The student will demonstrate the ability to identify, analyze, and apply criteria for making visual aesthetic judgments.

The Maryland State Board of Education added fine arts as a graduation requirement in 1988. Two high school courses, matched to the 4 art program goals, were designed to serve as the graduation requirement for visual arts: Art Seminar, Fundamentals of Art.

Curricula continued to be developed annually by art teachers in summer curriculum workshops and included new media: photography.

The museum liaison teacher’s role changed from giving tours to coordinating the scheduling of multiple museum field trips. The museum liaison worked with museum personnel and art teachers to use the museum as an extension of the art program, developing ten educational partnerships that included The Baltimore Museum of Art, the Walters Art Gallery, the Maryland Historical Society, and the Contemporary museum. Slide resources of selected museum collections were developed to support and align with the Baltimore County art curriculum. These were developed by teachers and museum personnel under the leadership of the museum liaison teacher.

1986 was the inaugural year of two exhibits that continue today: “Art is for Everyone” at The Baltimore Museum of Art and the “High School Art Exhibition” at Goucher College. In addition, five area exhibits and a countywide GT exhibit were mounted each year, facilitated respectively by the area instructional specialists and the GT art resource teacher. Services for GT art students were expanded to include day-long workshops at schools and universities. In 1988, the Maryland State Department of Education provided grant funding to establish a Summer Art Enrichment program for students with high interests in visual arts. This two-week program continues to be offered every summer.
Funding for additional resources came from the Baltimore County Government Arts and Sciences Commission. With these funds, the Office of Art was able to provide an Artist-in-Residence program for selected high schools. Two to three high schools were identified annually to participate in the program; selection was based on identified needs of the schools’ art programs. Schools interested in conducting their own artist residencies were encouraged to submit grant applications to the Maryland Arts Council.

Budgetary constraints reduced central office support for the art program to three staff members: a coordinator, supervisor and specialist. Despite the reduction, new programs were developed. Two magnet high schools and five magnet middle schools that offered visual arts magnet programs were opened. In addition, a visual arts career completer program, Art Intermedia- Digital Arts, was established in three high schools. This program introduced computer technology as a new tool for art students with the goal of preparing students with workplace skills as well as continuing education beyond high school.

An interdisciplinary primary program, Developing Language and Literacy Through the Arts (DLLA), was jointly developed in 1991 with Baltimore County personnel and staff from The Baltimore Museum of Art. This program, facilitated by the art specialist, focused on improving the language skills of language delayed children in Title I schools. In 1996, the specialist position was replaced by an elementary art resource position, shared by two part-time art teachers. One resource teacher was responsible for the Developing Language and Literacy Through the Arts program and worked with Title I classroom and art teachers in the implementation of the program. The other art resource teacher monitored and worked with the new Prekindergarten Enrichment program also offered in Title I schools.

Recognition of student achievement increased as numbers of students received scholarships in national and state level competitions during this decade. Baltimore County students were recognized for outstanding achievement in several prestigious arts competitions: Arts Recognition and Talent Search, Presidential Scholar in the Arts, Scholastic Arts Scholarships, Maryland Distinguished Scholar, Maryland Artist Equity Foundation, Marie Walsh Sharpe. High student achievement continued as scholarship awards became more competitive.

National Standards for the Arts were developed in 1994. State Education Superintendent Nancy Grasmick appointed a Fine Arts Task Force to begin alignment of Maryland’s fine arts curricular frameworks to the National Standards for the Arts. Baltimore County art teachers along with teachers in other counties were involved in the alignment of the frameworks. Countywide curriculum workshops were conducted to begin revising art curricula. In 1995, discussions of arts assessments for Maryland students began. Several Maryland arts educators and arts educators in other states were involved in the preliminary development of arts assessments for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which were administered in 1997. The NAEP, also known as "the Nation's Report Card," is the only nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas. Since 1969, assessments have been conducted periodically in reading, mathematics, science, writing, U.S. history, civics, geography, and the arts.

The development of National Standards for the Arts and the alignment of Maryland’s curricular frameworks prompted renewed attention to the arts. A series of projects partnered the Maryland Art Education Association with the Maryland State Department of Education and all school systems in Maryland. Begun in 1998 and endorsed by Mrs. Frances Glendening, then First Lady of Maryland, arts education and student achievement became a statewide focus through a number of activities sponsored by her office: Youth Art Month in Annapolis, a statewide exhibit of student art at the Statehouse in Annapolis; the Holiday Ornament project, student-designed and constructed ornaments displayed on Government House holiday trees; Art and Writing project, publications of student art and literary works. Baltimore County teachers and students contributed to this effort, consistently presenting work in all venues.

Partnerships with museums continued; new partnerships with the community were established; business partners included The Baltimore Life Companies, Whiteford, Taylor, and Preston LLP, and Coca Cola Enterprises Company. These business partners provided scholarship awards and opportunities for students to exhibit work in professional gallery settings.
Funding to add digital technology to the photography program became available in the late 1990’s. All high schools were equipped with upgraded darkroom equipment, computers, scanners, printers, and software.

The late 1990’s changed the Artist-in-Residence program from an annual event to a more focused, ongoing program. It was redesigned to provide professional development to teachers while building a community of artist/teachers working collaboratively with the resident artist, and whose activities were directly linked to program goals. A cadre of teachers in participating schools trained with the artist during the summer preceding the residency to engage in art-making and discuss instructional strategies. During the school year, the teachers and artist collaboratively set goals for implementation. During the first year of residency in each school the artist made frequent visits to schools to work with students and model instructional strategies; teachers followed-up with students after each visit. In succeeding years, teachers continued what was learned in the first year and attended meetings to share progress. For schools interested in conducting their own, shorter term artist residencies, applications for grant funds continued to be available through the Maryland State Arts Council.

Curriculum alignment became a statewide focus. The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) provided grant funds to support and accelerate the work of aligning fine arts curricula and enhance existing programs across the state. Each school system developed a fine arts strategic plan which directed program development. In Baltimore County, funds also supported professional development activities and the purchase of equipment and other resources to support arts programs.

Co-curricular activities for the Art Program continued at both the state and local levels with community partnerships, exhibits, scholarship competitions, and art contests. Exhibit opportunities continued to expand at the state level with new exhibits established at the Louis Goldstein Treasury Building in Annapolis and new gallery spaces at the Maryland State Department of Education. Annual exhibits continued to reflect greater numbers of student participation.

Student achievement continued to grow. Performance data on the Advanced Placement Studio Art portfolio showed consistent scores above the national average; student participation in scholarship competitions increased and resulted in numerous awards presented to students both nationally and statewide.

A Voluntary State Curriculum for Visual Arts was developed during the 2003-04 school year. Baltimore County art teachers participated in writing the curriculum which provides the foundation of visual arts curricula for the state. All visual arts curricula continue to be updated and aligned with the Maryland State Standards for Visual Arts and discussion of arts assessments continue.

Partnerships with museums continue as have partnerships with the community. The Mid-Atlantic Bottling Company became a corporate sponsor for the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Annual High School Art Exhibition at Goucher College, providing funds for professional development, scholarships, and other financial support for the high school program.

Countywide exhibits continued at the Walters Art Museum, The Baltimore Museum of Art, the Community College of Baltimore County–Dundalk, the Greenwood Administration building, and the ESS building on the Greenwood campus.

The artist-in-residence program has continued and is expanding. Monthly meetings with the artist have been enthusiastically received and have proven to be a very strong professional development activity. All current and past teachers of participating schools meet, bring student work to share, and discuss progress and process.

The Summer Art Enrichment program continues to be offered for two weeks in July.

Curriculum continues to evolve with the times in Baltimore County Public Schools. While still keeping alignment with the Voluntary State Curriculum and the National Standards, Baltimore County implemented “AIM,” Articulated Instructional Module. This resource allows teachers, students, and parents to see the learning goals and objectives at a quick glance to assess student progress.

On Sunday, May 7, 2007, art educators, past and present, and many supporters gathered at Martins West for “Celebrating A Century of Creativity.” This gala paid tribute to 100 Years of Art in Baltimore County Public Schools. Artists donated works of art to be auctioned to support the Jim Laubhiemer Scholarship Fund. Several works by the late Mr. James Laubhiemer, former Coordinator of Art, were donated by his wife for the cause. The celebration was a wonderful reflection of the many who have given their time and passion to support arts education in our schools.

A new partnership was developed with the offices of Azrael Gann + Franz. There you will find the work of our high school students on display in the law offices. These partners have also joined to honor our high school students by awarding cash prizes at the annual senior juried exhibit.

Security Square Mall also continues to celebrate our students’ artistic achievement by sponsoring a juried exhibit with reception and displaying student works in the main entrance to Security Square Mall.

In the spring of 2009, visual arts teachers were provided the opportunity to start sharing lessons and feedback on the intranet using D2L (Desire to Learn). This cyber meeting-place provides the perfect forum to share best practices.

The Museum of Ceramic Art supports the clay programs in 13 of our middles schools. In October of 2009, Cockeysville, Dumbarton, Franklin, Hereford, and Pikesville Middle Schools were honored for completing murals for Hollins Market in Union Square.

We cherish our partnerships with The Baltimore Museum of Art and The Walters Art Museum in curriculum ventures, teaching resources, field experiences, and opportunities to display student work at both museums. A new program “Project: Quality Time” was also implemented at both museums to encourage families to spend a day enjoying great works of art.

In 2009, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts National Schools of Distinction in Arts Education honored George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology and Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts as two of the five schools in the nation with outstanding arts programs in one year. This was the first time in the history of the program that a district had two schools recognized.

We continue to be grateful to The Commission on Arts and Sciences for our Artist in Residency grant. This program allows visiting artists to enrich the daily program of instruction in chosen schools throughout the district.

County Executive, Jim Smith continues to demonstrate his support for the visual arts by sponsoring ongoing exhibits at his office. At the conclusion of each exhibit, he invites students, parents, and teachers to join him at his office to celebrate the work of the young artists.

In March of 2010, the Office of Visual Arts sponsored the first countywide middle school juried exhibit at Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts.

The Office of Visual Arts continues to take pride in the number of Baltimore County Public School visual arts teachers who are recognized each year by MAEA (Maryland Art Educators Association) and NAEA (National Art Educators Association) for outstanding contributions in the field of art education.

We can also boast about the increased participation and number of students who have succeeded in Advanced Placement testing. We have also witnessed an increase in students winning: Scholastic Arts Competition, Congressional District Art Competition, young-ARTS National Competition, Marie Walsh Sharpe Scholarship Competition, NAACP ACT-CO, along with numerous other local competitions.

The Summer Art Enrichment Camp returned to Cockeysville Middle School after three years at different schools while the middle school was renovated, then moved to Perry Hall High School, where is remains today. The program continues to be strong, offering students and teachers an intense two weeks of art-making and portfolio development.

The Office of Visual Arts worked to develop new K-12 curriculum based on the National Core Arts Standards. Curricular materials moved to the digital platform within BCPS One.