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Elevator Chat: Mary Cary, Executive Director, Arts Education in Maryland Schools Alliance (AEMS)

Elevator Chat: Mary Cary, Executive Director, Arts Education in Maryland Schools Alliance (AEMS)


Elevator Chat: Mary Cary

November 07, 2014Arts Across Maryland

On September 16, 2014, Governor Martin O’Malley’s P-20 Leadership Council voted unanimously to accept recommendations from its Task Force on Arts Education in Maryland Schools. We chat with Mary Cary, Executive Director of Arts Education for Maryland Schools Alliance, to find out more about the report, it implications, and the role of arts education.

MSAC:  What was the impetus behind the task force and the report?

MC: We knew that Maryland has schools with excellent arts programs. There’s no doubt about that. But there are also schools where students do not have access to the arts. We believe that all students should have access to the arts during their pre-K-12 education, so the Governor’s Leadership Council wanted the task force to look at curriculum and instruction and resource allocation, as well as policy and regulation.

MSAC:  On September 16th, the P-20 Leadership Council voted unanimously to approve all the recommendations and strategies. What happens next?

MC: This is really the implementation phase. AEMS is going to work with the Maryland State Department of Education and with school system leaders around the state to assist in implementing the strategies. The task force in their deliberations took community input very, very seriously, and I really feel like the state owns this report. I think the arts community is ready to join with AEMS and school system folks to really make this report a living document. It’s a road map for making Maryland number one in arts education.

MSAC:  Why do you think arts education is important to a child’s education?

MC: The research is very clear: the arts are important because they teach capacities such as perseverance, collaboration, and problem-solving. I think our governor probably said it best, and I’m paraphrasing, but he believes that the arts prepare students to be creative, innovative, and imaginative. And we need our students to be able to be creative not only in order to be competitive, but to be effective, happy citizens.

MSAC:  You founded and created Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Baltimore County, one of the premiere public arts high schools in the United States. What drew you to the arts?

MC:  My mother was a painter and a professional pianist who actually wrote scores for silent films. My father was in the theatre business. So my parents were very much attuned to the arts and involved in the arts. I like to paint. I like to play the piano. I like to write. I used to tell my students at Carver that I’m a jack of all arts and not good at any one of them. But I like all of them.