For decades, arts education has been tenuous in public schools. Some offered students more opportunity than others, but the arts have not been a priority for most.

That’s unfortunate, because an arts education supports creativity and reasoning in other subjects, while giving students an emotional outlet.

Edutopia.com says, based on years of research, an arts education is “closely linked to almost everything we as a nation say we want for our children and demand from our schools: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement and equitable opportunity.”

The Brookings Institute found almost as soon as motor skills are developed, children communicate through artistic expression.

The arts open minds and teach empathy, something lacking in society today.

“Empirical evidence supports these claims: Among adults, arts participation is related to behaviors that contribute to the health of civil society, such as increased civic engagement, greater social tolerance, and reductions in other-regarding behavior,” The Brookings Institute found.

An Ashland musician recognizes the need for the arts in schools and has done something about it.

Kathleen Chamis, who has announced her retirement, has spent more than 40 years educating the young and old about music.

The violinist for the Huntington Symphony Orchestra and Marshall Symphony Orchestra also taught lessons from her home and presented recitals in the area. Some of her students have gone on to perform in the Marshall Symphony Orchestra, the Tri-State Youth Orchestra and the Charleston Cadet Orchestra. She also has volunteered to perform at nursing homes and at her church.

A little-known contribution Chamis made was her No Child Left Behind program in Boyd County Schools, which was spurred by President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind program, signed into law in 1992. The program, geared toward children with working parents, allowed her to teach after-school violin lessons at elementary and middle schools in the area. At least one other state has asked her to establish the program in their school system.

Chamis is to be commended on her lifetime of work. She said she has loved every minute of her career in music. It shows in her enthusiasm, creativity and achievement.

She also said she is enjoying retirement. After 40 years of promoting, supporting and teaching music, it is a well-deserved break.

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