Arts Infusion Lab

Building confidence and expressive capacity among under-involved students through art activities.

After initial funding from the BHS Innovation Fund, Arts Infusion Lab is now fully integrated into the Brookline High School curriculum.

This three-year project is an innovative arts program directed at drawing Brookline’s under-involved students into more active participation in expressive art activities.  Many students are currently supported by specialized, individualized academic programs at the high school, including:

  • Opportunity for Change (OFC): OFC is committed to the idea that changed behavior is valid proof of learning. In a compact, structured, nurturing environment, students experience a change from the mainstream daily schedule. The program provides a college preparatory curriculum for students who have not found success in the mainstream. Instead of taking multiple classes at once, students take one academic class per two-week cycle and receive a report card at the end of each cycle.
  • Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh

  • Winthrop House: The Winthrop House helps students break the cycle of difficulties they have experienced in traditional education. Winthrop House provides a small setting — an emotionally and physically safe environment, a structured behavioral program, and therapeutic interventions — to support students who are not succeeding on BHS’s mainstream campus. The program’s academics parallel the BHS core curriculum. Like their peers at the main campus, Winthrop House students receive BHS diplomas at graduation, then go on to college, transition-year programs, or the workplace.
  • Community-Based Classroom: The Community-Based Classroom is a program within Brookline High School for students with mild to severe cognitive and physical disabilities.

Students in these programs often miss out on BHS arts offerings due to geographic isolation from the main campus or extreme self-consciousness within larger classes of their peers. The Arts Infusion Lab is providing these students with a variety of arts-oriented opportunities tailored to be delivered within their existing specialized programs. The goal of the Arts Infusion Lab is to enhance students’ expressive skills and to build confidence and a passion for learning. This year, the Arts Infusion Lab teacher-leader is collaborating with the staffs of OFC, Winthrop House, and Community-Based Classroom to integrate art activities into their existing academic curricula, benefiting students who have been inhibited by behavioral and/or psychological issues.

The goals of this collaborative program are multifaceted:

  • to enhance student self-identity,
  • to increase self-expression skills,
  • to develop new communication tools through a wide range of activities such as dance/movement, theater/storytelling, music/singing, as well as painting, ceramics and other visual arts.

Arts Infusion Lab’s long-term goals reach beyond the perimeters of the specialized programs it serves. The Arts Infusion teachers intend to create curriculum units and structures that can also be integrated into mainstream academic courses, thereby extending the potential impact of the program to a much larger number of students and teachers over time.

Ultimately, the Arts Infusion Lab hopes to build sufficient confidence and capacity to enable at-risk students to transition comfortably into the traditional arts and performances classes offered at BHS — affecting the reciprocal benefits of exposing mainstreamed students to the perspectives, passions, and talents of those with whom they seldom interact in their daily classes.