I am a visual arts teacher at Cooperative Arts Magnet High School (Co–op), an inter–district magnet high school. Approximately 65% of the students are from the city of New Haven and 35% come from surrounding towns. The students apply for a lottery to come to Co–op and choose an area of the arts to study. This art form will be their area of intensive study for four years. The students may choose from music; choral or instrumental, visual art, theater, creative writing, or dance. The visual art students take a double period of art, approximately 90 minutes, everyday.
Students come from districts other than New Haven to attend Co–op rather than their local public high schools, primarily because they are interested in studying the arts in a smaller setting. Co–op has 624 students enrolled in grades 9–12. The student population is 65 % of female and 35% male, 49% Black students, 24% Hispanic, 26% White and 1 % Asian American students. The main languages spoken are English and Spanish with 1 % English language learners (ELLs). The school has 7% students with special education needs. The proportion of students eligible for free or reduced price lunches is 66%, which is higher than the state average.
Co–op is fortunate to be located one block from two of Yale University's world–renowned museums, the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art. Teachers often take their students on mini field trips to the galleries.
The AP Art History students that I teach have a rigorous, college based curriculum that includes the following objectives which I outlined in the syllabus that I wrote for the AP Art History Course: "Students will gain knowledge of architecture, sculpture, painting and other art forms within diverse historical and cultural contexts. Students will examine and critically analyze major forms of artistic expression from the past and present and from a variety of European and non–European cultures. Students will develop an understanding of artworks in their context, considering issues of patronage, gender, politics, religion and ethnicity. Students will examine the interpretation of a work based upon its intended use, audience and the role of both the artist and work of art in a particular society."