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Expanding Community “Creative Learning” Initiative

Making community-based, arts-rich opportunities available remotely


During the pandemic, Austin ISD’s shift to remote learning forced the district to reconsider how arts were integrated into learning. The district created and maintained a community-wide partnership among the district, MINDPOP, the city of Austin, and more than 100 community arts partners to increase "arts-rich" opportunities for all students remotely.

"I think the fact that we had to collaborate differently with them this year as a result of this is probably going to pay some dividends in the future because we broke some molds." - Suzanne Newell, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Austin Independent School District


Prior to the pandemic, Austin’s work in the arts centered on offering curricular tools and training teachers in strategies that are centered in and geared towards art. Teachers embedded these strategies into their core content lessons.

During the pandemic, many of the arts partners of Austin ISD pivoted to virtual programs and worked with AISD to offer additional opportunities to students learning remotely. This shift allowed students to work directly with artists and program leads in ways that previously weren’t possible. In addition, as many arts partners had to close their physical programs, new spaces opened up for learning pods.

This strategy is a part of TLA's Hop, Skip, Leapfrog release, which explores the concrete ways in which schools and systems pursued student-centered innovation during COVID-19. Explore the full guide to find additional strategies, insights, and resources.