As in other inner city school systems, one of the challenges confronting teachers in the Youngstown district is how to motivate students to learn. The poor academic performance of various schools, the high rate of absenteeism and the relatively low number of Youngstown high school graduates who go on to college all point to a need for some creativity in education.
A major step in that direction was taken Thursday when officials of Youngstown State University and Youngstown Symphony formally launched the Alder Art Academy, which will house YSU's Students Motivated by the Arts program -- SMARTS -- and the offices of the Youngstown Area Arts Council.
The academy will be located in the upper floors of a former storefront on Federal Plaza West. Renovations will begin next month and are scheduled to be completed by January.
"The new SMARTS center will serve our children today, so that YSU can serve them tomorrow as university students," said Dr. George McCloud, dean of YSU's College of Fine and Performing Arts.
Inspiration: The program, one of the many partnerships between YSU and Youngstown city schools, uses arts to motivate students and also provides teachers with new tools to inspire students. The center will have classrooms for visual arts, music, dance and theater and will facilitate after-school, weekend and summer hours.
The Abe and Leona M. Adler Charitable Trust provided a $200,000 gift for the project, while the city of Youngstown's Community Development Agency kicked in $250,000 in grants. Additional funding came from the Youngstown Symphony. These and other participants have earned the community's appreciation.