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Scott Wilson, Ohio Department of Education Fine Arts Consultant

Meet Scott Wilson, the Ohio Department of Education’s New Fine Arts Consultant

Scott Wilson has been passionate about the arts since appearing in his first theatre production as a child. In addition to his work with the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education (OAAE) and the Ohio Educational Theatre Association, Wilson has provided a voice for the arts at several state and national arts advocacy days. Now joining the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) as its new fine arts consultant, Wilson is excited to share why the arts matter in Ohio schools. Here’s what he had to say about his new position and what he hopes to work on in the future:

You recently joined the Ohio Department of Education as a fine arts consultant. What led you to this position?
I’ve been a theatre educator for 20 years here in Central Ohio. I am on the board for the Ohio Educational Theatre Association, and have been for 18 years, and served four years as the director. I’ve also been on the standards revision team for Ohio twice, and I helped write the national standards for theatre.

Those experiences all fit together to make this job ideal for me. I just feel like it is a job for which I’ve been training for my entire career, without really knowing that I was training for it.

You’re an Otterbein alum—what did you study while in college?
My undergrad is in musical theatre, and then I went back to school and got my teaching certification. I also have a master’s in theatre design and a master’s in school counseling.

In regards to your new role, what are you most excited about? What do you hope to accomplish during your time with the ODE?
My top priorities are:

  • To collaborate with different arts organizations and professional arts education organizations to increase opportunities and access for all of our students here in Ohio
  • To provide resources for arts educators that are updated and innovative
  • To bring awareness about the importance of a quality arts education for all

Last winter, the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) launched its newest grant program, TeachArtsOhio, which brings customizable teaching artist residencies into schools. What value do you see in connecting professional artists with students through these kinds of experiences?
My first reaction is that it helps pick up where the schools aren’t able to go. The teachers need to follow a curriculum, they need to follow standards, but there is so much more out there that can be explored. It’s an awesome opportunity for kids to get that exposure and learn from someone who is immersed in the art and working professionally. It will allow students to see the arts as a viable career option.

TeachArtsOhio elevates what our teachers are already doing, it’s definitely an enhancement for what’s going on in the classroom.

Can we look forward to any partnerships or collaborations between the ODE and the OAC’s Arts Learning team?
A project that’s been in the works among top leadership at ODE, OAC, and the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education is about to launch and I’m excited about it. The Ohio Arts Education Data Project will provide a new look at arts education to help us better understand student access to arts instruction in Ohio schools. You’ll hear more about this work in the coming weeks.

In what capacity should readers expect to work with you in the future?
A few of the big things are teacher certification in the arts, revising the arts academic content standards, and model curriculum. Basically, I am the customer service rep for anything having to do with the arts in Ohio schools. I will also be working closely with the OAC’s Jarred Small and Chiquita Mullins Lee on projects to support quality arts education for Ohio's students. I’m also very excited to work with the professional organizations—Ohio Music Education Association, Ohio Art Education Association, OhioDance, Ohio Educational Theatre Association— and all who seek to serve our students through the arts.

What do you wish more people knew about the role of arts in education? How do you hope to get that message out there?
From what I’ve seen in my 20 years of education, the arts take the skills and knowledge that students already have and bring it to life. The arts have the ability to foster understanding by using creative processes to dive deeper into meaning. 

The arts teach many transferrable skills—collaboration, creativity, problem-solving, flexibility—and those are the important skills to help grow the whole child and make them fully human.

The biggest thing that art education does is it teaches empathy. It teaches kids to look at people through different lenses and to also celebrate and tell their own stories. Without the arts, we lose that. We lose the heart of the child. The ODE stresses the importance of developing the whole child, and I feel the arts are crucial and integral to fulfilling that goal.

What do the arts mean to you?
The arts are my life. I started in theatre formally in second grade when the local high school needed a little boy to be in the show. The director went to my church, so she came to me and said, ‘I need you to do this,’ and that was it.

I've been doing theatre for nearly 40 years, and I have been singing for almost 30. It just is a part of who I am. It allows me to express myself in ways that other people can’t. It really is my survival. Everything I do tends to go back to the arts. And, in reality, everything everybody does goes back to the arts. Everything around us is influenced by the arts.

Your first on-stage role was an unnamed character in The Curious Savage. Have you been in any shows recently?
Most recently, I was in Sideshow with Gallery Players. I’ve worked on productions with Gallery, Available Light Theatre, Worthington, and Standing Room Only—a little bit of everywhere. Whoever is doing a show that I really want to do, I’ll go there.

Is there anything else we should know about you or the work you’ll be doing at the ODE?
I just want to emphasize that the ODE is going to be working hard toward collaboration, and working not only with the OAC and OAAE, but with other arts providers, especially those working with the schools so that we can be sure there is standards-based alignment with all program offerings being provided to our students.

ABOUT THE OHIO ARTS COUNCIL
The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at oac.ohio.gov.

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Article by Amanda Etchison, Communications Strategist
Photo by Nick Lingnofski



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