Magnet School Earns High Marks in the Arts

Art Smarts – Kimi B. Daly (back row, center), Art teacher at Fairfield Magnet School for Math and Science, and her students: Makayla Mann, Gianna Rhodes, Kimi Daly, Reniya Lyles, Tiauna Turner, Sharmelle Holmes, Caniya Brown, Paige English, Tavetria Amponsah, Layla Metts, Senai Greene, Trinity Skye, Tyus Armstrong, Skyla Hart, Alexia Hernandez and Jazzalyn McConnell. The Magnet School recently received the highest scores in the state in both Art and Music. (Photo/Stephanie Boswell)

Art Smarts –
Kimi B. Daly (back row, center), Art teacher at Fairfield Magnet School for Math and Science, and her students: Makayla Mann, Gianna Rhodes, Kimi Daly, Reniya Lyles, Tiauna Turner, Sharmelle Holmes, Caniya Brown, Paige English, Tavetria Amponsah, Layla Metts, Senai Greene, Trinity Skye, Tyus Armstrong, Skyla Hart, Alexia Hernandez and Jazzalyn McConnell. The Magnet School recently received the highest scores in the state in both Art and Music. (Photo/Stephanie Boswell)

WINNSBORO (Nov. 17, 2016) – Fairfield Magnet School for Math and Science has received the highest scores in the state for both Art and Music for last year’s S.C. Arts Assessment Program (SCAAP). SCAAP is a part performance-based and part computer-based standardized test where students are asked to show their knowledge in their creative field, including techniques, genres and mediums.

“It is a huge honor to have the highest scores in even one of the arts areas, but I don’t know if there has ever been a school to receive the highest scores in both!” Coordinator of Visual and Performing Arts for the Fairfield County School District Julianne Neal told The Voice in an email.

It took long hours and dedication from Kimi Daly’s fourth-grade art classes and Latasha Watson’s music students, but the effort paid off in top marks and state-wide recognition.

“I put their little noses to the grindstone and we researched artists and held many in-depth class discussions. We practiced and experimented with different mediums and produced many amazing 2-D and 3-D art pieces,” Daly said.

“Mrs. Daly continues to inspire her students to shine through a number of different opportunities and has an amazing talent in bringing out the very best in each of them,” Neal said in her email.

Watson, who recently moved to Virginia, made great strides in building up the music program and pushing her students to work to their greatest potential, Neal added.

“We are missing her,” Neal said in her email.

The test itself challenges students, both in music and in art, to focus on many different areas of their creative passion and makes them look at the arts from all angles, Daly told The Voice. She said she not only teaches the basics of art, but also how to apply art to other subjects in school and to future career paths that her students could take. The SCAAP pulls from many different areas of art to make sure students are getting a well-rounded education, Daly said.

“[The SCAAP] asks you questions just like any other test. In science they might ask you questions about vibrations, and our test might say, ‘What are tertiary colors?’ So this minute thing in the middle of everything else we study is asked,” Daly said.

Daly’s students don’t seem to mind putting in the extra work. When The Voice visited the hallowed art room, students came through the door in a steady stream to ask for more time to work on their art and to see if they could stay after school to get the hang of new techniques.

“Many of my gifted art students are perfectionists and so I give them my time after school to complete their projects that require more than our 50-minute classes allow,” Daly said. While she doesn’t receive any supplemental pay for her extra time, she said, “the rewards of the heart are great.”

Many of her students, Daly said, want to be creating all the time. Unfortunately, crafting masterpiece after masterpiece with no reprieve for lessons wouldn’t allow time to prepare for the SCAAP and finish the designated standards assigned to the art department each year.

“It was hard on the fourth-graders last year,” Daly said. “They don’t like taking tests, they like to actually do art. I know that I have [the SCAAP] in March, and there are so many things I have to get to. So when they’re like, ‘Mrs. Daly, you told us we could paint!’ I have to say that after the test we can do whatever projects you want to do, but first we have to prepare for the test.”

To see her students gain new skills and face the challenge of a difficult standardized test, only to get the highest scores in the state, fills Daly with pride and joy.

“I live the dream every day watching my students come to their potential and surpass with excellence with a higher level of thinking that creative endeavors extend,” Daly said. “This is what sets them apart. They don’t work for grades. They create from their love of the arts.”