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Wasatch County teacher picked for national arts education project

Tricia Bishop, theater and dance teacher at Timpanogos Middle School and Rocky Mountain Middle School in Wasatch County.
Wasatch County School District
Tricia Bishop, theater and dance teacher at Timpanogos Middle School and Rocky Mountain Middle School in Wasatch County.

A Wasatch County School District teacher was chosen to participate in a national project advancing arts education.

Tricia Bishop is a theater and dance teacher at Rocky Mountain Middle School and Timpanogos Middle School in Wasatch County. She was chosen to work with other art teachers nationwide as part of a program to help educators strengthen their teaching methods and leadership skills.

The project is called the Connected Arts Networks. CAN is a joint effort from the National Dance Education Organization, the National Association for Music Education, the Educational Theatre Association and the National Art Education Association. It’s funded by a five-year, $8.5 million federal grant. Bishop has been teaching for 26 years and is one of four Utah art teachers chosen to participate in the program, which includes almost 500 educators.

CAN is a national professional learning community, which brings educators teaching the same discipline together to collaborate. Bishop said it’s a great opportunity for arts teachers as there usually aren’t many in a district.

“For me in Wasatch School District, I am the only theater teacher and the only dance teacher on the middle school level,” she said.

Bishop said the national group will work together for three years on projects to show the value of art education.

“Basically, to try to help our schools and communities know the value of what we have and how we can do some cross-curricular activities as a school, that the arts can be supporting them as well and helping our students to become more well rounded,” she said.

Bishop said the arts give students a creative outlet, help build communication skills and increase confidence. Bishop started “fine arts night” at Timpanogos to do just that. On fine arts night, student artists show off their work in sewing, film, science, drama and more to the community. Bishop said Rocky Mountain is working to put on a similar fine arts night.

Bishop said she loves theater and dance because kids often start out intimidated and shy, but she sees them open up over time. She said the arts allow students to express themselves and explore their dreams and fears.

“They come out of their shells and they're so excited about it and they're so proud of themselves of all the things that they've accomplished. That's the best part of what I do.”

Bishop said the arts also bring kids from different backgrounds together.

“The last show that I did last year, I had football players, I had a rodeo girl, I had a film student, I had a chess club member, I had a dancer, I had a student government kid, who, outside of my class probably never talked to each other. But they all come together.”

Timpanogos students will perform “Channeling Grimm” and Rocky Mountain students will perform “The Audition” and “15 Reasons Not To Be in a Play” this spring.