Celebrated Charlotte, N.C., poet Chuck Sullivan taught poetry to students in grades 2 through 5 at Bethune Elementary School (BES in mid-February as part of the Fine Arts Center (FAC) of Kershaw County’s School Arts Program. The program facilitated 30 weeks of artist residencies this school year, and is funded in part by the S.C. Arts Commission (SCAC), which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support for the School Arts Program is provided by a grant from the Camden Junior Welfare League, Frederick S. Upton Foundation, Kershaw County School District (KCSD), Target Corporation, local civic and service clubs, school support groups, and contributions from individuals who value arts in the schools.
Funding for the BES residency week was generously donated by the Bethune Lion’s Club, the Bethune Woman’s Club, Lynchwood Masonic Lodge and the Bethune Garden Club. The teachers were very pleased with the success of the residency.
"Mr. Sullivan helped my students expand their writing skills by stressing the importance of using descriptive words while writing and also helped teach my students about similes and metaphors," second grade Bethune teacher Julie Pigg said.
"Mr. Sullivan is such an exciting and interesting man," added third grade teacher Jana Vincent. "He did a wonderful job teaching about the elements of poetry with vivid images and descriptions. He made writing poetry fun and interesting."
For more than 30 years, the FAC has collaborated with regional artists and KCSD to bring professional artists into the district to perform, inspire and teach. This history includes implementing Arts in Education grants from the SCAC since 1983.
In addition to school residencies, School Arts provides students and teachers opportunities to attend performances by professional music, theatre and dance artists. The partnership also includes the Arts Arising program for gifted students in grades 3 through 6. The FAC also provides arts integration professional development for classroom teachers as the KCSD requests. The current School Arts Month juried art exhibit in the FAC’s Bassett Gallery is also a project of the partnership.
Chuck Sullivan has conducted residencies in North and South Carolina schools since 1976. He has published seven books of poetry. His last book, "Zen Matchbox," was published in 2008. His second book, "A Catechism of Hearts," won the 1980 best book of the year in South Carolina and his fifth book, "Looking for the Harmonies," received the prize as Best Book of the Year in North Carolina in 1992. For the past 32 summers, he has taught poetry and philosophy at NC Governor’s School East where he is currently the Poet-in-Residence and head of the English department. He recently received the Sam Ragan Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Fine Arts in North Carolina and the Mary Frances Hobson Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Literature of the South presented by the Hobson Institute in San Francisco, Calif.