Lubeznik Center for the Arts and Safe Harbor foster student learning with Literacy Through the Arts

Lubeznik Center for the Arts and Safe Harbor foster student learning with Literacy Through the Arts

“If standardized state tests show us anything, they show that our kids could use some support in English language and literacy work. It was a need that we saw. With this program, we’re able to support our kids in this area while also fostering confidence, self-esteem, and all the beautiful things you learn through art-making.”

Lubeznik Center for the Arts Education Director Hannah Hammond-Hagman attributed this as the motivation to start the Literacy Through the Arts program through their partnership with Safe Harbor. Lubeznik and Safe Harbor offer the program at six elementary schools in Michigan City: Joy Elementary School, Lake Hills Elementary School, Knapp Elementary School, Edgewood Elementary School, Coolspring Elementary School, and Marsh Elementary School. Within these schools, Lubeznik and Safe Harbor are able to serve upward of 250 kids.

The program is open to any Safe Harbor student on a weekly basis. Safe Harbor is a before and after school service that is available to Michigan City Area Schools. The partnership between Lubeznik and Safe Harbor dates back to 2004. Safe Harbor contracts Lubeznik to do cultural-enrichment work for its students. Literacy Through the Arts has been offered to Michigan City Area Schools for the past six years.

The program separates students into a kindergarten through first-grade group, a second through third grade-group, and a fourth through sixth-grade group. They do this so that they can address specific standards for each grade level to ensure they meet an age-appropriate literacy level.

“It’s an innovative curriculum that combines academic literacy standards with physical science and engineering standards,” Hammond-Hagman said. “It’s creative art-making where we have grade-appropriate standards. For kindergarten and first graders, kids are exploring character development, character traits, plots, and narratives, and notions of main ideas and key details. It’s all of these literacy skills, which I think dovetail with art-making beautifully. We’re asking them to build their own stories and characters using creative art-making methods.”

“For second grade and above, tech-integration became a huge component. Through a generous grant from NiSource, we were able to purchase iPads that we use for literacy outreach. Kids have been doing lots of video-making and stop motion using paper and clay.”

The unit for kindergarten through first-graders lasts six weeks and the unit for second through sixth-graders lasts 12 weeks. Through these units, the contracted staff members leading them are able to track progress through the duration for the units and compared to the progress made in previous units over the past six years of the program.

“One of the beautiful consequences of the program is that it gives students who may struggle with this content in a traditional academic setting a different way to approach it,” Hammond-Hagman said. “It allows us to reinforce what they’re learning in classes and gives them space to succeed with that material. When you have a kid who has gone through the program, and you’re able to see the lightbulbs go off it is a real treat.”

Literacy Through the Arts is made possible not only by Lubeznik, Safe Harbor, and NiSource’s iPad donation, but also through the Morgan Family Foundation, which funds the program.

To discover more about Lubeznik and all it has to offer, visit