- Learning Through Arts
- Multiple Learning Styles
- Supportive Environment
- Critical and Creative Thinking
- Challenging Environment
The Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School was founded in 1996 as part of the Massachusetts Educational Reform movement. As a charter school, we were mandated to identify and facilitate innovations in educational methods that could impact positively on student learning, and to disseminate these practices to other public schools in the Commonwealth and eventually the nation.
At the same time, with the implementation of Proposition 2½ and its consequential budgetary restraints, performing arts offerings in the Commonwealth's public schools declined sharply. Of the twenty-three high schools in the Pioneer Valley, twenty-two reported a significant reduction in performing arts programs. Only 47% offered a music program other than band. Only 26% offered a drama program of any kind. No school offered a dance program. Nowhere was creativity supported as an equal and necessary partner to critical thinking.
In 1995 a group of artists and educators, united in their belief that the arts share equal importance with academics in the education of young people, formed the idea that led to the founding of PVPA. Their mission was to provide western Massachusetts with a school that offered students a challenging and innovative academic curriculum wedded to a performing arts program of unparalleled scope and depth. The school's success has exceeded even our initial high expectations.
Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School (PVPA) is a regional public charter school serving 400 students in grades 7-12, from over 60 towns throughout western Massachusetts. Our mission is to offer students intensive exposure to the performing arts within the context of an excellent college preparatory curriculum. The goal of PVPA is to provide students with a supportive and challenging environment that is responsive to multiple learining styles, emphasizes learning through the arts, and integrates creative and critical thinking throughout the curriculum.
PVPA offers an answer to the challenge of educational transformation: an extraordinary, integrated curriculum that challenges students to blend creative and critical thinking in academic and performing arts courses is complemented by a respectful, empowering community that surrounds students with the support and encouragement of teachers, parents, and administrators. PVPA is a school where learning is so vivid, relevant, and magnetic that young people want to be there. Through our curriculum and instruction, students develop a sense of confidence, a direction for individual creativity, and the skills and experiences necessary to succeed in college and beyond.
We seek to connect and leverage the synergy between the creative process and critical thinking to inspire a love of learning. Arts integration supports the pursuit of academic excellence by increasing student interest and enthusiasm and by providing novel entries into intellectual realms that usually remain unplumbed in high school curricula. As a charter school, we are mandated to disseminate the work we do and our learning about it in order to inform educational policy at local, state and national levels.
The school has earned a reputation for its dedicated faculty and administrators, academic and artistic excellence, and motivated student body. At PVPA, committed educators from a wide range of experiences and expertise collaborate to create diverse programming, attentive teaching, and innovative forms of assessment. Each academic and performing arts faculty member, whether full-time or adjunct, holds impressive potential for successfully implementing the mission of the school. In keeping with PVPA's philosophy that creativity and critical thinking are intricately intertwined, many faculty are trained in both an academic discipline and an art form; thus, the arts inform classroom teaching in many traditional academic classes throughout the school.
Small class size is a priority at PVPA. An intimate setting, in which full-time faculty members know every student by name, helps to create a personalized learning strategy for every student.
PVPA is committed to excellence in its academic and arts programs, and the school's graduation requirements exceed the Massachusetts state standards. Students are required to complete four years of language arts, three years of math, science, history, and world language (all with an option of a fourth year of study), and a minimum of eight hours weekly of performing arts programs, per semester.
Within the framework of its scope and sequence, PVPA offers students choice in performing arts programs, including multiple options within the disciplines of dance, theatre, vocal and instrumental music, technical theatre, and visual arts.