The Ballston Spa Central School District scored big recently as the recipient of a grant to help support the fine arts department at the High School. The “Connecting Improvisation, Education, and 21st Century Learning Skills Artist-in-Residence” grant is funded in part by the Arts-in-Education and Local Capacity Building Program, a program of the New York State Council on the Arts, administered by Saratoga Arts.
Administrators and faculty from the Ballston Spa Central School District collaborated with Kat Koppett, owner of Koppett + Company of Schenectady, to write the grant and create an innovative artist-in-residence program for high school students enrolled in Business Marketing and Management courses and the Career Exploration and Internship Program, BSCSD Coordinator of Development Courtney Lamport said.
“I am excited to be able to bring my expertise to this area of the Capital Region and work with students in the Ballston Spa Central School District,” Koppett said.
According to the district, the $2,152 grant will support over 70 students who will receive an innovative educational experience combining improvisational theater and the business curriculum, centered around team building and communication. The Community Foundation and The Ballston Spa Partnership for Innovation in Education Fund support the district programs and initiatives through combining community support with the school district. Other districts who participate with The Community to help bring grants like this together include North Colonie, Greenville, Niskayuna and Bethlehem.
Lamport, Koppett, and several faculty members collaborated to write the grant application through Saratoga Arts Council. Grant proposals were reviewed and selected by a Grant Review Panel.
“A total of six grants were awarded; Ballston Spa High School was the only project awarded that focuses on high school students,” said Lamport.
Lamport said using the art of improv in high school business courses is something being done in high schools and universities throughout the country. The purpose is to educate students on creativity, communication, team building, and leadership skills. Major corporations such as General Electric and JP Morgan Chase hire experts like Koppett to train their top executives on the basics of improvisational theater. Prestigious business schools such as Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business have also been using improvisational theater with their students majoring in business.
The grant will be re-occurring this semester for students enrolled in the Career Exploration and Internship Program. Twenty new students will begin the internship program in February, and those students currently enrolled in the program will provide an overview of the information to the incoming students. In addition, a small group of students will present the information during a regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting, Lamport said.