Learning partnerships are a central part of the museum school design, offering students valuable knowledge and a chance to explore and gain real-life experience of classroom topics. History museums, science centers and other institutions host interactive learning expeditions, provide guest speakers, donate supplies and reinforce classroom lessons.
Different partnership levels allow The Museum School to create unique learning opportunities to best fit designed curriculum. Partnership may mean a trip to a Georgia nature science center, where students study carnivorous plants, learn about alternative energy sources and tour an organic farm, seeing real-world examples of in-class lessons. Or, a visit to a museum that details the background of the nation’s civil rights movement allows students to go beyond the facts and imagine themselves part of the moments when history was made.
The Museum School has signed partnership contracts with 11 curricular partners, each with its own expansive education department. These institutions have a direct tie-in to our school’s curriculum, and they are compatible with our educational model. They are:
Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta History Center
Alliance Theatre Institute for Educators and Teaching Artists
Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Georgia Nature Center
High Museum of Art
Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University
The Museum School’s teachers have spent time – entire days, in some cases – visiting with curricular partners and looking for direct connections between our curriculum and partners’ exhibits and planning how best to work those connections into lesson plans.
Museum School students are frequent visitors to curricular partner locations, where tours and lessons are tailored to our school’s curriculum. These institutions have enthusiastically embraced partnership with our school, meeting with staff members, speaking to students and offering interactive presentations.
In the first nine-week lesson unit, for example, an Atlanta History Center staff member visited the school several times, bringing bags of artifacts such as maps, coins and clothes from the pre-Civil-War era. The speaker used a spinning wheel to show students how wool is made, and her talks offered insight into the lives of historical figures such as Frederic Douglas and Susan B. Anthony.
Resource partners play an important role in helping us fulfill our curriculum goals. Though a particular resource partner won’t see every Museum School student visit in a given school year, the partner’s staff may work closely with our faculty. For instance, Museum School second graders studying Georgia history visited the Martin Luther King Jr. historic site, where park staff tailored a tour of the facility specifically for our students.
Other resource partners include:
Center for Puppetry Arts
Avondale Arts Alliance
DeKalb Symphony Orchestra
Community partners such as local businesses provide a much less formal structure for reinforcing classroom lessons. For a learning unit on saving and spending money, first graders visited a local bank. Kindergartners learning about community help and citizenship visited a local fire station, police station and the DeKalb Farmer’s Market to study the foods of other cultures.
Community partnerships are as limitless as the imagination, and we will continue to seek opportunities to introduce our students to real world lessons every chance we get!