Ayers Institute Case Study

Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission

Connecting Teachers and Students with Nashville's Art

Partner Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission (Metro Arts)
Location Nashville (Tennessee)
Timeframe Started 2013; Completed 2015
  • Create relevant teacher resources for all subject areas, highlighting Nashville public art
  • Connect teachers and students with Nashville art
  • Provide engaging professional learning experiences for teachers
Program Elements
  • Peer collaboration
  • Resource creation
  • Professional learning

“I valued learning about integrating all disciplines when planning [lessons]," said a Metro Arts Professional Learning participant.  "Art should shine.”

The Metro Nashville Arts Commission, the arts and cultural division of the city of Nashville, believes that “all Nashvillians should participate in a creative life and that arts drive a more vibrant and equitable community.”  The Commission engages the community in a variety of ways, including the promotion of its Public Art collection.  Public Art in Nashville is created by professional artists, with input from the public.  Currently, Nashville boasts forty permanent public art pieces, with other pieces in progress.

As part of its mission, the Ayers Institute works to incubate innovative instructional ideas.  Art creation, inspiration, and history are integral parts of learning for students and teachers alike.  The partnership between the Ayers Institute and Metro Arts was born out of the common goal to bring innovation and creativity to the educational process, while connecting Nashvillians and others to the rich history and artistry of the city.   

The Ayers Institute worked alongside Metro Arts to create engaging and relevant lesson plans for three public artworks: Aileron, multiple works in Edmonson Park, and Witness Walls.  For two of these projects, the Ayers Institute recruited local elementary, middle, and high school teachers from all academic disciplines to commit to a Metro Arts Teacher Cadre.  The work of these Cadres brought teachers together to create lessons and activities in all subject areas, with the Public Artworks as the centerpieces.  These teachers worked alongside Ayers Institute facilitators, as well as one another, to review, critique, and revise each lesson.  At the end of this rigorous, year-long process, teachers presented their work to other educators in professional learning sessions.  Middle Tennessee teachers who attended these sessions said: “I found most valuable the interdisciplinary connections and the opportunity to meet and work with experts from multiple fields of study” and “I really enjoyed every part of this PD and I love how applicable it is to so many subjects and grade levels!” Yet another participant raved, “Best PD I have been to all school year!”

Teachers who participated in Metro Arts Teacher Cadre found that as they were creating resources for fellow educators, they grew professionally through the process.  One 2015 Cadre Member said, “I valued most learning about everything, mostly myself. What a great opportunity to work with amazing people to create lessons and learn about this history. “

Discover these innovative lesson plans on Metro Arts webpage as well as eduTOOLBOX.org.

“I’m just so impressed with the collaboration between the Metro Arts and the Ayers Institute," said a 2015 Metro Arts Teacher Cadre member. "I think it is groundbreaking and I am proud to know its happening in my city.”

Partnership results:

  • Authentic, relevant, teacher-formed professional learning networks
  • Increased awareness of art and historical resources available to teachers
  • Understanding of how to integrate art into all subject areas
  • Creation and dissemination of high-quality, standards-aligned resources for teachers to use in their classrooms

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