Letter to the editor: SCMS’s decision to ditch art is not a good one

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St. Charles Middle School has eliminated the position of art teacher at their school. This decision leaves a fully equipped art room empty, and the absence of a specialized art teacher to give students the creative opportunities that we as a community have taken for granted.
Over 20 years ago Joyce Payne, then instructional supervisor for Marion County Schools, had in place art teachers at every school level - elementary, middle and high school. This was unusual in a rural community like ours at that time.  It was her vision to have the arts be a strong component of every child's education.
Students had opportunities to create tangible works of art — both inside the classroom and outside, at events like Arts in the Park. Students could express their own creativity, often discovering talents that they before had not recognized.
I share Ms. Payne's vision, having devoted 41 years to art education, 20 spent in Marion County schools. I know that numerous studies have shown that students involved in the creative process (e.g. a studio art class) build thinking skills that cross the curriculum. These thinking skills create a stronger overall student, better able to learn core subjects. 
Without the art program at St. Charles, students will lose these educational opportunities, as well as a foundation for a career pathway. I hope our community will encourage St. Charles Middle School to re-visit this decision, and let Ms. Payne's legacy in the arts live on in Marion County.
Susan Crum-Cox