Artists in Schools is a program of United Arts Council and Wake County Schools that brings professional teaching artists to schools. Students learn a variety of art forms and cultures and have the opportunity to learn classroom curriculum and develop creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication through the arts. Artists work so hard to show their talents and they need the right place to showcase. And the right place to showcase is with the students who need that art in their life. The is like a one stop show for all the art in Wake County. My name is Donna Washington and I’m a professional storyteller and an author. My main focus, really, is literacy, and United Arts has been a boon. It is wonderful. I have worked in almost every elementary school in Raleigh I was here looking at the artists and we needed an artist in residence. We were walking and we saw this amazing artist making some coral things out of coffee filters. How creative is that? And we stopped, and she was Shannon Newby. We specifically designed a project where we could utilize this everyday, common material. I’ve had a number of kids just light up and get excited. “Oww I could do this at home!” And I think, “Yea absolutely”. That’s the whole point. You can take this learning and continue it at home. What I liked most is that it’s very interactive and it’s extremely creative and you have to think out of the box. We say, as a writing artist, that what we’re trying to do is paint pictures with words This is an opportunity for me to go back and connect with students. I just love sharing what I’ve learned from other great writers and teachers who have inspired and helped me. I’ve learned to make my writing more detailed and more expressive. You can sort of use your imagination and make a pretty creative story. When I come here I come here as an artist and a mom and I know what my kids need and I see those artists and I connect. I say “oh my gosh, they’re so amazing. I want them in my school.” And it’s always worked out fantastic. That’s what I think is coolest. You make connections with people and through the storytelling, through the work that I do I make long-term relationships with people. I love this program. Thanks to the Artists in Schools program, more than 120,000 Wake County school children see a theater, dance, or music performance or participate in a week-long artist residency each year. Students excel when they’re exposed to the arts. We see the impact in their smiles, in their motivation to learn, and in their test scores.