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Executive Director Lori Cozzi Receives the Gerry D. Howell A+ Educator of the Year Award from A+ Schools of North Carolina Program

Executive Director Lori Cozzi Receives the Gerry D. Howell A+ Educator of the Year Award from A+ Schools of North Carolina Program

Last week A+ Schools of North Carolina named Lori Cozzi, Executive Director of ArtSpace Charter School, the 2017 Gerry D. Howell A+ Educator of the Year.  What follows is the article posted on the A+ Schools Network blog.

“Lori Cozzi, Executive Director of ArtSpace Charter School in Swannanoa, was named 2017 Gerry D. Howell A+ Educator of the Year at an A+ Network webinar on Thursday, May 4. Ms. Cozzi has served the ArtSpace community for 14 years — first as an arts integration specialist, then as a program coordinator, and for the past 10 years as the director. The award recognizes an A+ educator who best exemplifies the values of A+ Schools of North Carolina and its philosophies.

Ms. Cozzi has been an educator for more than 30 years, and the arts have been at the core of her teaching and central to the educational programs and professional development she has provided in her many roles. She also believes in the power of the A+ Essentials and how they offer students opportunities to fully engage in the classroom. “Engagement is critical to student success,” Ms. Cozzi shared in her personal statement. “Students want to ‘do,’ to create, to shine and share. My classrooms and the school I lead, the workshops I present, all offer students the opportunity to think deeply and creatively, make connections to the world, and learn with their bodies, minds and hearts.”

Under Ms. Cozzi’s leadership, ArtSpace has developed a highly successful infrastructure that truly supports collaboration among staff allowing for deeply integrated and meaningful experiences for their students. Ms. Cozzi’s purposeful, collaborative planning schedule allows grade level teachers, arts specialists, the assistant director and director to meet once per month to develop quarterly and year-long plans, brainstorm on school-wide projects and exchange ideas that often blossom into highly engaging, successful lesson plans involving several members of ArtSpace’s community. These meetings are “sacred” and ArtSpace staff understand that nothing takes priority over the collaborative planning schedule. “These meetings serve as the cog in the wheel of collaboration at ArtSpace and are intrinsic to the success of our school,” writes Lyn Van Over, 6th grade teacher, and one of the many staff who nominated Ms. Cozzi for the award. “The planning involved to make sure teachers are able to attend these meetings is awe inspiring.” Ms. Cozzi has presented at multiple professional conferences to share her vision and strategy for making successful collaborative planning part of her school community.

Recently, Ms. Cozzi collaborated with a new third grade teacher at ArtSpace to model a deeply integrated project that also gave her the opportunity to stay connected to her students in a classroom setting. The project, entitled “Spectacular Spirals,” provided students with an arts integrated experience that included visual art, dance, language arts, science and math while supporting her new classroom teacher with the tools to build a successful integrated unit. This is just one example of Ms. Cozzi’s dedication to her students and staff and her belief that “the arts are uniquely capable of providing students and teachers with a wide variety of opportunities for growth.”

When reflecting on the impact of A+ on her own school, Ms. Cozzi shared, “When fully embraced by a school community, the A+ philosophy becomes something to believe in and aspire to. A+, when done well, can become a common vision, bringing a school into alignment and focus, unifying its parts.”

Ms. Cozzi holds a degree in elementary education and a master of science in art education. She is also national board certified as a middle childhood generalist. She has been an A+ Fellow since 1999 and serves as an A+ Liaison to several of our A+ schools in the western part of the state.

As the 2017 A+ Educator of the Year, Ms. Cozzi will receive classroom arts products generously donated by Crayola, will attend NCCAT’s Leadership Academy with other statewide and district Educators of the Year, and will serve as an “ambassador” for the A+ Schools of North Carolina for the upcoming school year.

The Gerry D. Howell A+ Educator of the Year Award was created in memory of Gerry D. Howell, long-time A+ Schools executive director and the inspiration behind the creative teaching and learning of countless educators, administrators and students across N.C. To honor her legacy, each year the A+ Schools selects one dedicated A+ educator who best exemplifies these values of the A+ Schools of North Carolina and its philosophies.” (posted with the permission of the A+ Schools Network).


The Little Prince: Time Bandits – A Multilayered Performance

The Little Prince: Time Bandits – A Multilayered Performance
One of the Little Prince's

One of the LIttle Prince’s

Recently 4th grade students at ArtSpace Charter School performed an original multi-layered social studies play entitled “The Little Prince Time Bandits”.  This piece combined puppet theater segments adapted from Antoine St. Exupery’s existential fable, The Little Prince and scenes that illustrated historical moments and people of North Carolina as Europeans settled and clashed with indigenous peoples.  

Ms. Tonya, 4th grade social studies and language arts teacher, shared The Little Prince with her students early in the school year.  They spent time diving into the “moral of the story” as the Little Prince encountered the many characters in his story. IMG_6656As they explored the Little Prince in language arts, students were learning about NC history beginning with the natural history, and ending with westward expansion of the United States. Ms. Tonya watched her students make connections to the archetype characters in The Little Prince to the people in NC history. With the necessary background knowledge in their “toolboxes” students wrote scripts, created the puppets and and stages for the puppet segments which technology teacher Steve Lipe helped film.

The stage action in the productions was written using excerpts


One of the puppet theaters. Students are preparing to film their segment.

from poems and historical fiction the 4th graders had written from the perspective of the plants and animals of Pisgah Forest, the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears, and Daniel Boone.

This experience offered 4th graders at ArtSpace a layered exploration of the patterns of change in history and character development in fiction.  The students applied the information they learned through their research and reading to a dramatic production they will never forget.  When asked what they enjoyed the most about the production, the students were eager to share.  “I

A dance representation of the Cherokee Trail of Tears

A dance representation of the Cherokee Trail of Tears

loved making the puppet stages for the videos,” one student exclaimed.  Another student said they enjoyed collaborating with their friends to make the puppet pieces happen.  Students were also asked how they thought the lessons of the Little Prince and the experience of North Carolinians in history could apply today. One student summed it up and said if we could apply the moral of the story from the play today, things would be a lot nicer. The moral of the story is summed up by the closing dialogue of two railroad engineers contemplating the stories they have just watched. “Perhaps the children are lucky because they know it is all about time.  When you spend time getting to know a person, creating a work of art, or building a railroad, it becomes very important to you. . . You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. “


ArtSpace Grateful for Partnership with Old Depot Association

ArtSpace Grateful for Partnership with Old Depot Association

Over the years ArtSpace Charter School has depended on the generosity of various community organizations to support special programming that would not be affordable otherwise.  ArtSpace is very grateful for their continued relationship with the Old Depot Association in Black Mountain, who has funded several projects for ArtSpace through their yearly education grants. These grants have afforded many art opportunities for ArtSpace students through performances, workshops by visiting artists and purchasing materials for large scale arts projects.

record album flower garden public art piece

record album flower garden public art piece

For example, in 2008 the Open Dream Ensemble shared their performances with the entire student body and held workshops for various grade levels in their classrooms. In 2014 world renowned percussionist Beverly Botsworth performed for the entire student body and worked closely with 2nd and 6th graders weaving percussion concepts into other curriculum areas in their classroom.  In addition, teachers at every grade level were grateful to receive a teacher focused workshop from Ms. Botsworth.

Half of the Scott Allred mural.

Half of the Scott Allred mural.

ArtSpace was able to fund the design and implementation of a Scott Allred mural that spans the first main hallway of their building with an Old Depot grant and grant funds allowed us to build a raised stage in our dedicated theatre space, making performances more accessible for audiences and performers a like.

In the 2014-15 school year the school received the grant for a public art project. Under the guidance of Executive Director, Lori Cozzi, all students recycled record albums by painting them and converting them into a flower.  The students’ flowers were compiled together to create a garden that was on display along the playground in the front of campus.

These are just a few examples of the many projects The Old Depot Association has funded over the years.  ArtSpace is so very grateful to this organization!




Professional Development in the Arts Offers Teachers New Skills

Professional Development in the Arts Offers Teachers New Skills

Each year ArtSpace Charter School schedules early release days as a part of the school calendar.  When the students go home the teachers stay to plan, meet with other teachers, and most often to attend professional development workshops to learn more about effective teaching.  In December teachers chose to attend one of two arts workshops offered by teaching peers at ArtSpace.  Teachers either attended a printmaking workshop or a music and dance language workshop.  


1st grade teacher Ms. Claire inks up a fish for a print.

The intention of these workshops was to give the general education teachers more tools to integrate the arts in their own classrooms, creating more opportunities for two-way integration.  Two-way integration means arts objectives and “academic” objectives from the NC Essential Standards and/or the Common Core, are taught in conjunction with each other. Two-way integration is a consistent goal at ArtSpace and other A+ Schools who seek to use arts integration as a philosophical approach to educating children.

Kindergarten teacher Andrea Giglitto and third grade teacher Melissa Redden were two of the printmaking workshop facilitators.  These teachers received a scholarship to attend a week long retreat hosted by the Nature Printing Society at Wild Acres in Little Switzerland, NC earlier this school year.  It is a common occurrence for teachers at ArtSpace to teach workshops after returning from a professional development opportunity off campus.  Teachers and administrators at the school are always seeking new and interesting arts integration trainings that can be shared with the entire community upon their return. Ms. Melissa and Ms. Andrea rotated staff through a fish printing class and a basic brayer class, while ArtSpace parent and Nature Printing Society Education Coordinator, Bridget Benton, taught staff how to use a pasta machine as a printing press with watercolors. In Bridget’s class, participants also were exposed to ecodying with a rice steamer over the course of the afternoon.

Music and Dance Specialists Meg Boerner and Rebecca Triplett shared samples of music and dance recordings to illustrate vocabulary important to dance and music creation and performance.  Teachers who attended this workshop can use this information when assessing students in projects using dance to demonstrate knowledge of a unit.  Middle school science teachers Nick


Kindergarten teacher Ms. Rebekah helps a student create a print.

Rogowski and Lyn VanOver are happy to have vocabulary to use with the kids as they create movement or dance pieces in their classroom. Middle school language arts teacher Leila Wheless is eager to use the terminology in conjunction with the writing process.

Kindergarten teacher Rebekah Walker was very excited to attend the printmaking workshop.  She employed some of the techniques she learned with her kindergartners just days later.  She is also looking forward to employing Gyotaku (fish) printing to compare and contrast characteristics of animals which is a large part of the kindergarten science curriculum.

Silk Road Bazaar in Western North Carolina!

Silk Road Bazaar in Western North Carolina!

A Silk Road buddhist poet explaining his inspiration to become a poet.

Right before winter break sixth graders at ArtSpace journeyed back in time to Samarkand and the Great Silk Road of 650 CE.  Students have spent several weeks studying the bustling trade industry and the cultures that made up the Silk Road.  After their initial research students created individual personas someone could have encountered in Samarkand.  These characters included, but weren’t limited to,  innkeepers, buddhist monks, spice, wool and of course silk traders.

Attendants at this Silk Road Bazaar living museum were free to wander amongst the students and ask them questions about the products they were trading or the positions they held in Samarkand.  Sixth graders did an amazing job staying in character.  Finn Mahoney remained ever serious as he shared aspects of his life as a persian soldier protecting merchants from thievery.


Students performing a traditional indian dance

Sixth grade band members worked with music teacher Meg Boerner and performed a traditional Japanese piece.  Dance students from sixth grade studied and performed several dances under the guidance of dance teacher Rebecca Triplett. These dances originated from China, India, and Europe and were commonly performed on the Silk Road.
The Silk Road Bazaar is a new unit developed by sixth grade language arts and social studies teacher John Hall.  In the past the focus of the Medieval unit was European, and students hosted a Medieval Faire that included performances of mystery plays common during the Middle Ages.  Mr. Hall enjoyed teaching this unit but felt the concept of the Silk Road and focusing on the theme “an exchange of ideas” would require sixth graders to explore the diverse cultures and religions that existed all over the world during Medieval times.

Stress Management for Middle School Students

Stress Management for Middle School Students

Everyone gets stressed during the holiday season… everyone.  ArtSpace Charter School Guidance Counselor Adina Arden-Cooper understands the students she works with on daily basis feel this stress too, so she and Ms. Sue organized an introduction to positive stress management for 7th and 8th grade students.

She talked with many students about how they manage their stress and many of them surprisingly said that they use CBD, FluxxLab is known for delivering on the entourage effect with no THC.

For two days during the week leading up to winter break, 7th and 8th graders got to choose two workshops to attend from a

Students stretching to prep for some lessons in Kung Fu.

Students stretching to prep for some lessons in Kung Fu.

varied list of offerings including mindfulness and meditation, taking kratom strainsreportshealthcarebest CBD Oil for inflammation, drumming, Kung Fu, making herbal teas and bath salts, stretch class, basketball, and crochet. Some classes were led by ArtSpace staff but several were lead by community members who donated their time. 7th and 8th graders were excited to have the opportunity to do something a little different than their regular schedule and hopefully learned a few new approaches to stress management, we are realistic, we know that stress is a common issue among society, for this same reason children need to understand the importance behind taking care of their mental health.

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Students in the drumming workshop

Students in the drumming workshop

Students in the crochet class were eager to learn a stress management technique that would help with fidgety energy and produce a product as well.  Some of the students introduced to the art of Kung Fu are eager to seek out more instruction and saw the benefit of releasing their stress through physical activity. CTFOCBDonline has a descent selection of hemp oils.

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Middle school teachers and Ms. Adina and Ms. Sue were so pleased at the success of the workshops they are hoping to offer more in the spring.

Field Trips – Real World Integration

Field Trips – Real World Integration
4th grader examining insect life in the Cradle of Forestry.

4th grader examining insect life in the Cradle of Forestry.

SWANNANOA, NC, October 11, 2016 – At ArtSpace Charter School  arts integrated experiences are expected on a day to day basis; it is the educational philosophy in which the school is grounded. Teachers  and administrators at ArtSpace feel “real world” integration is hugely important as well. Only one month into the school year and every grade level at ArtSpace has been on a field trip or has one scheduled to happen before the end of October.

All of these field trips support the learning objectives students are working on in the classroom and offer another opportunity to apply this knowledge in the world they will use them in outside of school.

4th grader examining insect life in the Cradle of Forestry.

4th grader examining insect life in the Cradle of Forestry.

Kindergartners have visited an apple orchard after discussing the attributes of apples; how they can be the same and different. Comparing, contrasting and the exploration of attributes is a big part of the kindergarten curriculum.  7th and 8th graders explored team building on a hike to Black Balsam and 6th graders did the same at the Warren Wilson College Alpine Tower.

6th Grade Alpine Tower 2016

6th graders climbing the alpine tower at Warren Wilson College

Students in all grade levels at ArtSpace Charter School will experience an average of 4 field trips before the end of the school year.  ArtSpace takes a hands on, experiential approach to learning in the classroom and these field trips add the perfect punctuation mark to new learning because they offer real world experience in which to apply it.

A+ Schools National Consortium Visits ArtSpace

A+ Schools National Consortium Visits ArtSpace

SWANNANOA, NC, October 4, 2016-  Last week leadership from the A+ Schools National Consortium visited ArtSpace Charter School to explore the culture of arts integration in a school with experience.  According to their website, Aa+ Schools of NC “helps schools transform themselves using the arts as a catalyst for making teaching and learning engaging, creative and enjoyable.” ArtSpace joined the A+ Schools Network in the 2012-2013 school year to support their mission as well as network with other schools around the country who have chosen to use arts integration as their philosophical approach to educating children.  

The visitors were welcomed to ArtSpace with a song performed by all of the kindergartners.  The consortium group held a meeting regarding future plans for the A+ Schools program, and ArtSpace ED Lori Cozzi and 6th grade language arts and social studies teacher John Hall, presented information about ArtSpace followed by a tour of the campus.  Visitors were then invited to explore the building independently and invited to see teachers and students in action.


States of Matter – A Science and Visual Art Exploration

States of Matter – A Science and Visual Art Exploration

dsc_0057Recently 8th grade science students at ArtSpace have explored states of matter, the law of conservation, and physical and chemical changes. Middle school science teacher Nick Rogowski and Visual Arts teacher Jocelyn Reese found this content the perfect opportunity for “two-way integration.”  Two-way integration is the process where one or more arts concept is taught at the same time as a concept in a non-arts class.  After a week of lessons about states of matter in science class Ms. Jocelyn joined the class to create an art piece using crayons and a heat gun to manipulate the wax.

dsc_0061Before students began working with the assigned medium they reviewed and discussed the basic visual art principles emphasis, balance, and color theory.  Students then went to work creating their art pieces.  Some students chose to illustrate the science concepts as they worked on the composition of their piece while others focused more on experiencing a new art process.  Mr. Nick believes that either intention worked to solidify deeper understandings of the science concepts for all students.dsc_0048

When the pieces were complete students presented them to their class.  Students spoke to the scientific concepts represented, or experienced when creating the work. Students also shared the techniques they used to manipulate the crayons.  As audience members students offered helpful critiques to the presenting artists.  This critique session offered students another opportunity to express their understanding of the art and science objectives.

ArtSpace Charter School Elects and Inducts 2016-17 Student Council

ArtSpace Charter School Elects and Inducts 2016-17 Student Council

On Wednesday, August 31st ArtSpace Charter School had their elections for the 2016-17 Student Council. Student Council img_20160902_110918328_hdrserves as a student government program which provides opportunities for leadership and a “channel” for students to voice their concerns or requests for the school. Students in 2-8th grade vote for a class representative in their homerooms.  The entire student body votes for the executive council, comprised of the offices of President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer.  It was a tight race for all positions and the winners were inducted the following day (see below) and were ready to serve the student body immediately.

The student council run various fundraisers throughout the school year in order to purchase items to better the school.  The drinking fountain in the arts wing of the building was purchased with funds raised by the  student council.  Funds from the 2015-16 Student Council were used to purchase the most unique school chairs and a new gas grill for the school that will be used at the upcoming 3rd Annual Community Cookout on Friday, September 16th.

img_1960Class Representatives

Mr. Eric’s Class:          Max Condon
Ms. Ali’s Class:           Phoenix Anderson
Ms. Annabell’s Class: Lucille Connor
Ms. Mary’s Class:       Evan Swanson
Ms. Melissa’s Class:   Hayden Tilson
Ms. Tonya’s Class:      Wyatt Carroll
Ms. Victoria’s Class:   Arabella Lusk
Ms. Marni’s Class:      Killian Hoyer
Ms. Heather’s Class:   Ian McDuffy
Mr. Hall’s Class:          Aralyn Crandle
Ms. Lyn’s Class:         Jackson Knoll
Mr. Nick’s’s Class:      Ora Kerr
Ms. Megan’s Class:    Maya Diehn
Ms. Leila’s Class:        Indigo Glenn
Mr. Ian’s Class:           Mason Sneed

Executive Council

Secretary:                    Jayde Hadley
Treasurer:                    Judah Cooper
Vice President:            Grace Williamson
President:                    Ava Yurchak