Bradford County Regional Arts Council

Arts Education Award
2007

The BCRAC's Learning Early Network brings appropriate music, dance, dramatic play, storytelling, and visual arts activities to the underserved children in every Head Start center in 8 rural counties. Activities for these children from low-income, rural families will continue into the future because of teacher training and parent involvement. 

The BCRAC's Learning Early Network and its expansion into "Learning Communication Skills Through the Arts" was selected as an International Model of Early Arts Programs in 2004 by the Arts Council England. In addition, because of this work, the BCRAC became the first rural arts organization to receive the Governor's Arts Award for Leadership in Arts in Education in 2006. These door-opening awards have enabled the BCRAC's Brooks Eldredge-Martin to assemble and chair a committee of national and international experts who are planning an International Early Arts Conference for Pittsburgh in 2009. Included in the effort are the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Art Council England, Family Communications Inc., Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, Western Pennsylvania Head Start, and many others. 

The Learning Early Network:
In 1997, responding to brain research and realizing the importance of early childhood education, the BCRAC developed an arts in education program called the Learning Early Network, which is a collaboration of people and organizations such as Head Start Centers, Daycare Centers, libraries, pre-natal and early healthcare programs, government programs, private and public preschools, and parents. As a BCRAC project, the Network typically uses artists and the arts to pursue its mission, which is "to work with parents, educational agencies and the community to improve the early learning opportunities for young children (0-8)."  Not long after initiating the Learning Early Network program, this program was selected as a "Best Practice in the Arts in Pennsylvania" in 1999. 

Learning Communication Skills Through the Arts:
Learning Communication Skills Through the Arts brings age-appropriate music, dance, storytelling, dramatic play and visual arts activities to Head Start children from low income, rural families. Teacher training and parent involvement insure that use of these activities continues to improve communication skills into the future. During the first two years of this expansion project, the artist residencies served over 40 Head Start centers in the Bradford-Tioga, Lycoming-Clinton and Danville Head Start Programs.  Each center received 16 visits from artists who are now becoming internationally recognized.