Scenes from the Bushnell


PARTNERS (Partners in Arts and Education Revitalizing Schools) is an award-winning arts education program conducted in many schools throughout central Connecticut.

PARTNERS began in January, 1993 with two primary goals:

  • to improve language arts skills (literacy) for school children; and
  • to increase intercultural competencies among a diverse population of communities

The PARTNERS approach consists of interlocking components, which, in turn, are closely tied to core eduational requirements and specific learning goals. The six components are:

  • Literature linked to curriculum
  • Artistic resources
  • Professional development for teachers and artists
  • Performance events and exhibit opportunities
  • Family involvement activities
  • Program evaluation and student assessment

PARTNERS studentBook-based activity guides have been created which connect to a particular piece of children's or young adult literature.  An artistic partner (either a teaching artist working directly in the classroom or a presenting artist conducting a grade level assembly) uses the literature, along with their particular art form (i.e. visual art, music, theater, poetry, playwriting, storytelling, puppetry, dance) to present the unit, hands-on activity or performance.

Over the past 18 years, PARTNERS has served thousands of students in dozens of schools throughout the state.

The PARTNERS program has achieved national recognition.  The Bushnell received the William Dawson Achievement Award for excellence in arts education from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.  The program has also been nationally recognized as a National Endowment for the Arts Program Model and has received  substantial grants from the Fund for the Improvement of Education through the U.S. Department of Education. The Bushnell also received the Connecticut Quality Improvement Award (CQIA) 2002 Gold Innovation Prize.  The PARTNERS  program won for its unique approach to learning - arts organizations, educators and businesses joined together to better schools, to give students quality learning experiences, and to build bridges between schools and the larger community.

Some examples of curriculum-based PARTNERS projects are:
Seed Mosaics: connected to Math curriculum
Leather Pouches: connected to Native American cultural curriculum
Mask Making: connected to Recycling curriculum or Native American cultural curriculum
Legend Writing: connected to Native American cultural curriculum
Fish Kites and Storytelling: connected to Japanese cultural curriculum
Poetry: connected to Language Arts curriculum
Community Mandala: connected to Social Studies curriculum
Middle School Civil War unit: includes poetry, cartooning, marionette making, music, Readers Theater, quilting, printmaking

We've received great feedback from our students:

"The Bushnell PARTNERS program has mainly taught me more about African and other different cultures that we have experienced. I've learned many different traditions, many legends of different cultures, and different nationalities."

"You have to be more open to what your imagination is saying. When they teach you something it's not, 'All right, we have to do this or that.' They do it in a way you want to do it, making it very fun and exciting."

"It's helped me look at the arts a lot more seriously and deeply, because there's so many things that they've exposed us to. You learn so much and you can look at things deeply and really find what the true meaning is."

The Bushnell's PARTNERS program is funded by foundations, corporations and individual donors, as well as local schools and school districts.