The History of Étude
The idea for the Étude High School for the Arts and Academics has been many years in the making. The idea that students can effectively learn through the arts has been in the Sheboygan Area School District for over 20 years in form of the SASD Artist in Residence program and the Integrated Arts as Basic Education Committee, a committee whose purpose it is to further instructional practices that use the arts as a means for students to learn and share the knowledge learned in school.
Two years ago, the SASD formed an exploratory committee to determine whether or not a separate charter school that integrated the arts was viable. The committee conducted an extensive literature review of different types of arts schools such as the Arts for Academic Achievement schools in Minneapolis and the Chicago Arts Partnership in Education and visited the International Network for Arts Based Schools. Following this an extensive interview process involving teachers, students and community members took place in order to gather their views of a potential arts infused charter school in Sheboygan. The results showed that schools at the elementary level and high school level were the most viable. In order to gain more information committee members visited the Renaissance School for the Arts in Appleton, Wisconsin and attended a conference of the A+ Schools Network a network of schools that integrate the arts and academics in North Carolina, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Michigan. The information from these visits was then put into a model for a potential school in the Sheboygan Area School District and an extensive round of focus groups of parents, students, teachers and community members was conducted to gather feedback on the model the SASD was looking to implement.
During the 2006-2007 school year the Étude High School for the Arts and Academics applied and was awarded a $50,000 Charter School Planning Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. The grant was used to have teachers plan out the curriculum by aligning courses with academic standards along with the 21st Century Skills. The staff from Étude also participated in an institute at Harvard University by Project Zero a research group focused on creating communities of reflective, independent learners; enhancing deep understanding within disciplines; and promoting critical and creative thinking.
Currently, the Étude High School for the Arts and Academics is a public charter school in the Sheboygan Area School District using the arts to create reflective, creative and critical thinkers by teaching academic disciplines through the arts.