MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — She’s known for her popular TV show, “Sex and the City.”
But on Monday actress Sarah Jessica Parker was in Minneapolis promoting “the arts in schools.”
Parker visited Bethune Community School in North Minneapolis.
She has adopted the school and will be a mentor in a program designed to help turn around the nation’s lowest-performing schools.
They are elementary school kids eager to show off what they have to offer. She’s an award-winning actress, eager to show how acting, singing and dancing can boost a child’s self-confidence and improve grades and attendance.
“If you are taught in the conventional way, if you are disengaged and not connecting to school, the arts allow this connection, it tethers you, it brings you back to a place you have to be anyway,” Parker said.
Parker made her Broadway debut when she was just 11 years old and went on to star in the musical Annie when she was 14.
“Maybe he or she doesn’t know how to sit still properly or doesn’t want to sit still properly but wants to learn,” Parker said. “When you engage them in different ways, they are not learning any less, they are just learning differently.”
Turnaround Arts is a program created by President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.
Here in Minnesota, it’s run by the Perpich Center for Arts Education, which provides advice, support and materials to four schools.
Rachel Goslins works for the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. She’s traveled with Parker and gave us an example of how this program works in the classroom.
“Your art teacher collaborating with your science teacher on the the life cycle of the butterfly — it changes the way a school feels to its students, to its teachers and to its parents,” she said.
Cheryl Martin is the principal at Bethune Community School.
She said they started integrating the arts in all classes last year and already they’re seeing results.
“Students that were really struggling last year have made double-digit gains in reading, single-digit gains in math,” she said. “I am so proud of them.”
Student behavior has improved as well.
Parker said she will stay in touch with the teachers and students at Bethune via Skype and plans to visit again.
Funding comes from the federal and state government.
Parker also had a chance to do some sightseeing in Minneapolis over the weekend.
On Instagram Sunday she posted pictures from around town, including one outside of the restaurant Bachelor Farmer in the North Loop, where she ate dinner.