Why does SAA focus on the arts in education?
The arts, essential to every child’s education, are one of the core academic subjects in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). According to Rod Paige, past U.S. Secretary of Education, “the arts help students to understand themselves and others.” President Bush stated, “From music and dance to painting and sculpting, the arts allow us to explore new worlds and to view life from another perspective.” In addition, “they encourage individuals to sharpen their skills and abilities to nurture their imagination and intellect.”.
The arts (dance, music, theater, and visual arts) are challenging subjects with rigorous content and achievement standards. They require highly qualified teachers who challenge all students. In addition to studying the arts for their own sake, experiencing and making works of art benefits students in their intellectual, personal, and social development and can be particularly beneficial for students from economically disadvantaged circumstances and those who are at risk of not succeeding in school.
Research studies point to strong relationships between learning in the arts, fundamental cognitive skills and capacities used to master other core subjects, including reading, writing, and mathematics. The arts serve as a “critical link” to help students develop crucial thinking skills and become motivated to achieve at high levels. Research also shows that students who are highly involved in the arts earn better grades and perform better on standardized tests. Decades of research has demonstrated:
- that an arts education contributes significantly to improve critical thinking, problem posing, problem solving, and decision making;
- that as with language and mathematics, the crux of an arts education involves the communication, manipulation, interpretation, and understanding of complex symbols;
- that developing fluency in artistic expression and understanding fosters high-order thinking skills of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation;
- that the arts are multi-modal, addressing and fostering the multiple intelligences of students (spatial abilities, for example, develop through drawing and sculpture, mathematical-logical abilities through producing and listening to music, kinesthetic or physical abilities through dance, interpersonal skills through drama);
- that the arts develop a person’s imagination and judgment, permitting each individual in Maxine Greene’s classic phrase, to create “as if” worlds, places where we see the world afresh.
What is the curriculum?
View the School Curriculum.
Is this a total immersion/integration education model or an after-school, extracurricular-type situation?
The arts are infused into the curriculum to increase learning, make it more enjoyable, and create emotion and association with content and learning. It is not the focus of the school to create individual expertise in the arts with students. That being said, we want the students to also enjoy stand-alone instruction in the arts during the school day and are planning for those types of experiences for students.
We will not employ an after-school model of integrating the arts. However, if there is interest, students could receive expertise in the arts through an individualized (small group) model from an artist—this would be at the parent’s expense provided as an extra-curricular activity situation.
The focus of hiring teachers has been to look for teachers that currently integrate the arts into their instruction. We have not asked teachers to be art experts—it’s more about the joy of learning through the arts and teaching using the arts—most likely student work will reflect the learning gained through the arts—student work done during CORE instructional time will not be reflective of art expertise.
What is the school calendar?
Our school calendar is closely aligned with the calendar of Davis School District. See the School Calendar.
How does SAA provide opportunity for parental involvement in management decisions at the school level?
SAA believes that when parents participate in their children’s education, the result is an increase in student achievement, an improvement of students’ attitudes, increased attendance, fewer discipline problems, and high aspirations for lifelong learning. Studies have shown that when parents participated in the decision-making roles in the educational program, academic achievement scores of students increased dramatically. Parents of students attending SAA will each be a voting member of the Parent Organization (PO), not to be affiliated with PTA.
Parents are encouraged to participate in arts projects, which are an integral part of our curriculum. Parents with varying talents and skills will also be encouraged to administer before and after school clubs, varying from academic to athletic social interests.
Is there a Special Education program?
Absolutely! Syracuse Arts Academy employs 2 Special Education Teachers to address the needs of children who require special education. As with any public school, SAA complies with all federal special education laws including “IDEA 2004”. The school and Special Education teachers work directly with parents of special education children to properly address the individual disability challenges each child faces.
Is transportation provided?
No. With the exception of field trips, transportation is the responsibility of each family, although the school tries to assist families find others in their area to carpool with as much as possible.
If I don't live in Davis County, can my child still attend?
Yes, provided your child has been accepted into the school, it doesn’t matter which school district you live in as long as you can provide your own transportation to and from school each day.
How can I be more involved in my child’s education at SAA?
Parents of students attending Syracuse Arts Academy are voting members of the Parent Organization (PO). The membership elects an executive committee and chairs for school committees, such as fundraising, volunteerism, etc.
All parents are encouraged to volunteer at least thirty hours per academic year. There are many opportunities even for parents who have young kids at home or parents who work a full-time graveyard shift.
May a Charter school limit its enrollment to certain students?
No. A Charter school is part of the public education system and must be open to all students, without discrimination, on the same basis as other public schools. If the number of students applying to enroll in a Charter school exceeds the capacity of the school or of programs, classes, or grade levels within the school, then those students to be admitted are chosen at random from among the applicants. For more information, see Enrollment.
Are Charter schools subject to the same laws and regulations as other public schools?
As a general rule, yes. Laws and regulations relating to religion in the schools, school fees and tuition, health and safety, civil rights, annual reports, prohibitions against advocacy of unlawful behavior, screening of potential employees or volunteers for competency and fitness, and most other matters are the same for both Charter schools and other public schools. The State Board may waive any of its rules for a Charter school or other public school, if the school applies for a waiver and the State Board finds that the waiver would not violate applicable law or cause harm to students or the school. A Charter school is exempt from existing negotiated agreements relating to the hiring, employment, and dismissal of employees. A Charter school’s governing body may determine the level of compensation and the terms and conditions of employment for its employees. Charter schools may only employ educators who hold valid teaching certificates or who meet State Board requirements for alternative certification or authorization.
How are Charter schools held accountable for what they do?
A Charter school must make the same annual reports as other public schools, including an annual financial audit and monthly budget report. Additionally, the Charter school must participate in the statewide testing programs. Charter schools submit all reports to the Utah State Board of Education.
Who are the teachers?
What are the biggest risks to starting and running a Charter school? How do you alleviate them?
Unsatisfactory facilities are a problem in Charter schools. We have developed a relationship with a group of investors who have built an incredible building for us to locate our school.
Another problem is meeting all of the state and federal requirements of a Charter school. We have contracted with a management company with a successful track record managing Charter schools to ensure these risks will not be a concern for our school.
Where can I get additional information about Charter schools?
Find more information on Charter schools at:
Are there extra-curricular activities?
Our school may provide extracurricular physical education activities in addition to music, dance, theater, art and service projects based on available resources and interest. The Junior High Cross Country track is currently running, which will be followed by Coed Volleyball, Boys and Girls Basketball, and Coed Soccer. Watch the home page as our schedules will be posted.
Are the teachers certified?
Yes. As required by the state of Utah, all teachers shall be licensed, certified teachers, or be qualified to teach under USOE’s alternative certification or authorization program. Parents have the right to request and receive information on the qualifications of their child's teacher. If you have any questions or want more information please contact your campus principal or you can refer the student information system.
The principal and executive committee of the governing board work together to arrive at a joint decision on hiring of teachers and other staff as deemed necessary. For teachers, the principal does a pre-selection from applications received. The principal conducts the final interview and submits new hire recommendations to the Board for ratification.
Individual employees, including the principal, are hired with an annual contract, which is renewable at the end of each year. The governing board carries the right to terminate any employee that is not complying with the standards set forth by the school and included in the employment contract.
Background checks and/or drug testing on prospective or current employees are performed as required by state law.
The principal, with input from the Board of Directors, is responsible for evaluating the performance of teachers on an annual basis.
Is there a library?
Syracuse Arts Academy houses a complete library, which includes various forms of multi-media learning resources. The collection includes complete sets of age-appropriate fiction, non-fiction and art reference materials. Students learn different research techniques through utilization of hard reference materials, the Internet, trade journals, etc.
The collection is built on a foundation of scholastically recommended books, consisting of classic children/young adult literature and local periodicals. The library has educational learning centers, along with defined group and personal reading spaces.
The library is staffed by parent volunteers. The Junior High Library is staffed by a Media Specialist.
The library is one of Syracuse Arts Academy’s primary locations for displaying student art pieces, donated art, featured artists and books that encourage children to appreciate art and culture.