Press Release

White House Honors Washington, D.C., Public School Teacher As a School Turnaround Champion of Change

For Release: 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Janet Bass

WASHINGTON—Kristen Hayes, a District of Columbia public school teacher at the arts-integrated Savoy Elementary School in Anacostia, was honored today as one of 12 "School Turnaround Champions of Change" for her innovative arts programs that help motivate students and improve student achievement.

The White House is recognizing several teachers, union leaders, administrators, parents and others who have helped implement dramatic changes in some of the country's lowest-performing schools to improve student outcomes and close achievement gaps.

Savoy received a Turnaround Arts grant from the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, which is designed to narrow the achievement gap and increase student engagement through the arts. The grant was based, in part, on Hayes' "Color Is Life" school transformation project...

"There is no doubt in my mind that arts education is a very successful tool to promote higher achievement and motivate kids to attend school. Art and other performing arts can be integrated into math and science and other subjects while it taps into all the senses," Hayes said.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said Hayes' award is an acknowledgment of the importance of the arts for a robust education. "Sadly, while budget cuts are reducing or eliminating art and music, we know that these programs actually motivate kids to come to school and get them excited about learning," Weingarten said.

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.