Burlington’s Integrated Arts Academy and the power of creativity

Local News

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Integrated Arts Academy, a K-5 school known for its unique model of education, has gained national attention over the last few months for their feature in a Netflix documentary.

“The Creative Brain” looks to unravel the creative process and figure out how people can maximize their creative potential. The school’s education system emphasizes creativity and interactive lessons while striving to meet the same objectives as a traditional elementary program.

On Friday, students gathered in the gymnasium to share dances and short films they’d been working on all week in addition to their classwork.

Principal Bobby Riley, who has been at Integrated Arts Academy for eight years, said the school’s arts-driven education is the key to their uniquely creative community.

“I think making art is a part of how we celebrate and how we recognize each other as community members,” Riley said. “How did it impact us as people? How did it impact how we engage with and support one another?”

Teachers say it isn’t difficult to juggle the arts with teaching subjects like math and science – in fact, it’s an asset.

“Sometimes there’s a right answer, but there’s different ways of getting to that answer so it really allows the students to think independently,” said fourth grade teacher Aurie Thibeault, who was featured in the documentary. “It allows them to come together and create things using their mind.”

Principal Riley said students and staff were excited to learn they would be part of “The Creative Brain.”

“They’re proud of the work that we do, we do think that it’s unique, and we want to share it too,” Riley said. “We want to use what we do here as a platform to say there’s different ways to educate students and we need to have an open mind.”

The documentary will be shown at Burlington High School on May 30 at 6 pm. 

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