Colorful 3D art creations. Rhythmic drum beats. The tinkling sounds of musical bells. These are just a few of the sights and sounds of Denison ISD Fine Arts programs that enrich learning for more than 1,700 students on all five elementary campuses. Leading the programs are three talented and dedicated instructors: art teacher Dana Nichols, and music teachers Yalonda Ivers and Bear Omundson.
According to Nichols, elementary art opens students’ eyes and minds to the outside world, helping them see exciting new opportunities and possibilities.
“Art helps students build confidence and pride, think critically and become better problem solvers,” said Nichols. “It shows them that things don’t always work out the way they want the first time around, but they can be fixed and resolved with a little creativity. It enables them to explore ideas and try new techniques and materials. Art provides a place where they can form opinions about what they like and don’t like, evaluate their work and make changes.
“Art also builds fine motor skills, hand strength and dexterity. It helps students learn and understand spacing and scale, and how to follow multi-step directions. It helps them develop simple but important skills like how to use rulers, how to trace a template and how to tie knots. They also get to see artwork from around the world and learn how other artists work and solve problems.
“Last but not least, art opens students’ eyes to so many exciting job and career opportunities,” added Nichols. “They see and realize that they can use their artistic talents in so many ways…and that bright and exciting futures are within their reach if they set high goals and work hard to achieve them.”
Elementary music teacher Yalonda Ivers says music impacts young lives in much the same way. “Music allows children to express their feelings and creativity, build stronger cognitive and problem-solving skills, and learn to work as a team. It builds their vocabulary, exposes them to cultural history, and engages them in high level thinking. Any time musicians play together, regardless of age, they must work as a team to bring the piece to life.
“Also, when students learn how to "count" in music, they are introduced to fractions,” said Ivers. “This foundation provides stepping stones as they begin to utilize fractions in mathematics during the spring of their third-grade year. Fine Arts programs also provide students who are not athletically inclined with an opportunity to work and participate together throughout their education.”
Research has long proven that students who are involved in the study of music consistently outperform their peers on standardized tests such as the PSAT, SAT, and ACT.
“Music and art really do enrich our lives,” said Ivers. “Stop and think of how music enhances your own life by bringing back fond memories, or having lyrics provoke your thoughts and feelings, even how it enhances your favorite movies. Anything music does to improve upon the lives of adults, the same is true for our students.”
According to DISD elementary art teacher Dana Nichols, art helps young students, like these at Lamar Elementary, develop simple but important skills, including how to utilize the various functions of rulers, how to trace templates and how to tie knots. “This helps them see and realize that they can use their artistic talents in so many ways,” said Nichols.
Denison ISD elementary art teacher Dana Nichols utilizes her classroom Smart Board to demonstrate the use of shapes, rulers and measurements to design 3D art creations. “Art helps students learn and understand spacing and scale, and how to follow multi-step directions,” said Nichols.
DISD elementary music teacher Yalonda Ivers directs students in a percussion drill set to rhythmic music. “Music allows children to express their feelings and creativity, build stronger cognitive and problem-solving skills, and learn to work as a team,” said Ivers.
: A Terrell elementary music student, under the direction of elementary music teacher Bear Omundson, performs a bells solo highlighting the effective use of diminuendo and crescendo before joining fellow classmates in a group performance.
Mayes elementary music students learn to work as a team under the direction of music instructor Yalonda Ivers. “Any time musicians play together, regardless of age, they must work as a team to bring the piece to life,” said Ivers.