PVPA is a regional public charter school serving 400 students grades 7-12, from over 60 towns throughout Western Massachusetts. We seek to connect the creative process with critical thinking to inspire a love of learning. As a charter school, the work we do informs educational policy at local, state and national levels.
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.
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