The Art Center

stART Initiative

The State of Illinois does not currently require visual arts education for grades K-3rd. As a community-focused Art Center, we bridge that gap by supplying schools with standards-based lesson plans and art supplies that meet grade-level expectations. Teachers are given instruction from us on how to complete the lesson so that they may present the lesson to their students in their own classrooms. The Starting with Art Initiative (formerly known as smART Kids) comes at no cost to the teachers, students, or school districts.

We annually serve over 2,000 K-3rd students with this program. With appropriate funding and support, we intend to expand the program this year to better serve the surrounding Illinois counties (rural Adams, Pike, and Brown) and school districts outside of Quincy. This expansion should more than double our numbers by spring 2023.

Two art lessons are delivered to the classroom per grade level—one in the fall semester and another in spring. These lessons are aligned with National Visual Arts Learning Standards and the Grade Level Expectations for Visual Arts in Missouri. Lessons include new vocabulary that will help students to improve their understanding, brief introductions to a famous artist or artistic style, and materials to create their own project inspired by the lesson. We also offer step-by-step guidance from our Director of Education to help build teacher confidence within the classroom when it comes time for the lesson to be implemented.

Funding for the 2020-2021 smART Kids Art Program was provided by:

  • Tracy Family Foundation
  • Community Foundation
  • Gardner Denver Education Fund through the Community Foundation
  • Samantha Otte Foundation of the Community Foundation

Frequently Asked Questions

This program, formally known as smART Kids, started in 2007 in response to the need for K-3rd grade art education in Quincy area schools. In Spring 2023, The Art Center will undergo a major expansion to this program in order to serve more students in our area. Art lessons and accompanying classroom art supplies will be delivered to participating teachers twice a year.

The lessons will align with the National & Illinois Visual Arts Learning Standards as well as the Grade Level Expectations for Visual Arts in Missouri. Lessons include comprehensive pre- and post-assessments, step-by-step lesson outlines with accompanying instructional videos to assist teachers, and enough art materials for your students to create their very own art projects. Professional development will be provided by our Director of Education, an Illinois licensed and certified K-12 art educator, to help build teacher confidence within the classroom.

The Starting with Art Initiative (stART) is entirely FREE to teachers, students, or school districts. Signing up and participating comes at no cost!

We annually serve over 2,000 K-3rd students with this program. With appropriate funding and support, we intend to expand the program this year to better serve the surrounding Illinois counties (rural Adams, Pike, and Brown) and school districts outside of Quincy. This expansion should more than double our numbers by spring 2023.

The Starting with Art Initiative (stART) title gives a clearer picture of what the program is designed to do—start K-3rd grade students with art during their school day with their classroom teachers. On paper, the name “smART Kids” translates just fine, but saying it out loud doesn’t exactly have the desired effect; rather, it risks alienating people by making it seem that the program is only meant for students who show strength in academics. Art is for everyone!

We plan to expand our stART program to rural Adams County, Brown, and Pike counties in Spring 2023 and add ROE-sanctioned professional development training for classroom teachers. We want to provide more support and resources so teachers can incorporate more art into their classrooms in the future. As a small nonprofit organization, moving to a video and art kit format allows us to expand our reach, sustain operations over time, and serve more students and teachers.

The Art Center’s stART Initiative is the only program in the area that offers art to K-3rd grade students during the school day and gives teachers the opportunity to earn professional development credits for learning new strategies and implementing these lessons.