Our History

Phase I: Whole Schools Project

In 1996, Mississippi State University was commissioned by Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) and Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE) to conduct a survey on the status of arts instruction in Mississippi public schools that revealed the poverty of arts instruction in Mississippi schools. Among the findings: one full-time music teacher for every 840 students, including high school band programs; one full-time visual art teacher for every 3,150 students; one full-time drama teacher for every 17,848 students; and one full-time dance teacher for every 31,235 students. Research conducted more recently revealed that, in 1999, the ratios of arts teachers to students remain little changed.

Phase II: Whole Schools Initiative

  • Elementary, middle and high schools now participate
  • Elementary/middle models geographically located – Delta, North, Central, South
  • Individual programs are driven by a five-year strategic plan
  • Two essential components:
    • the use of arts teachers and visiting artists in the areas of dance, drama, music, visual art, creative writing and folk arts to strengthen the place of the arts as a core academic subject in its own right
    • the integration of the arts in all academic subjects in order to increase student success in these subjects
  • Support available to schools: program director, grant funds, technical assistance (strategic planning, grant writing, etc.), mentoring (field advisors, senior schools), resources, and sequential professional development (summer institutes and retreats)
  • Comprehensive project evaluation through a national assessment team
  • Specialized training for administrators, Mississippi artists, field advisors, etc.

Phase III: Mississippi Whole Schools
(2019 – present)

  • Guided by revised 5-year strategic plan
  • Name change from Whole Schools Initiative to Mississippi Whole Schools
  • Expanded opportunities for non-member schools to participate in professional development
  • Increased focus on data collection, analysis and sharing with schools
  • New website making resources readily available to member schools and non-member schools
  • Educational Video Series available on-demand to member schools
  • Revision of tools for monitoring growth in arts integration and working toward sustainability of the program