Side x Side ignites academic excellence in education through comprehensive arts-based programs bringing critical thinking, creativity and innovation into the classroom.
Side x Side partners with the University of Southern Maine, local school districts, organizations, artists, professionals, and colleges. Side x Side makes a profound and lasting impact on our schools and communities through four primary objectives:
- STRENGTHENING student achievement through engaging hands-on projects
- FACILITATING teacher development and intern practicum
- BUILDING & STIMULATING cooperative and lasting partnerships among the arts, education and professional communities
- PRESENTING broad career paths to students through visiting experts and artists
- Students with high involvement in arts perform better in school and stay in school longer
- Involving the arts in education can help to narrow the achievement gap for underserved and at-risk students.
- The arts help develop competency, especially among students who would otherwise feel isolated or excluded.
Side x Side provides standards-based K-12 arts-based programs, a system of professional development, support for teachers and artists and assessments of overall impact on academic achievement, motivation, creativity and teacher confidence.
In 2014, in partnership with the University of Southern Maine, Side x Side’s “Project Imagine” received a $1.9 million AEMDD four-year grant from the US Department of Education to work in the Portland Public Schools. In 2018, Side x Side, again in partnership with USM, was awarded a US Department of Education AAEDD grant for almost $2.5 million to carry it through another four years of programming in the Portland Public Schools and to expand into the Lewiston Public School district.
How It Works
Over the course of the academic year, students participate in grade-wide units where a specific aspect of the curriculum is supported and enhanced through arts-based programming
A team of teaching artists, visiting professionals, Side x Side staff, college interns and community members work side by side using their particular areas of expertise to engage students in rigorous learning through creative approaches to core subjects.
Students are immersed in an engaged learning environment and get exposure to an increased awareness of career paths and community resources that are available to them. They dig into individual work and also develop collaborative approaches to learning. Students from across the academic spectrum come away with a deeper understanding of subject matter and how it connects to their lives.
Side x Side teaching artists meet with classroom teachers to plan projects making specific curricular connections in literacy, math, science and social studies.
Projects begin with a Kick-off event that includes students, classroom teachers, teaching artist(s) and often a content expert. Projects culminate in a celebratory public showcase of student work.
“It is imperative that we equip our students with the skills necessary to compete in the 21st century, and Side x Side recognizes that critical thinking, creativity and collaboration are at the top of the list.”
– US Senator Angus King