• Education for the Arts (EFA)

    Education for the Arts is a program arm of Kalamazoo RESA. EFA’s roots are based on a unanimous desire of the nine public school districts in Kalamazoo County to make arts education a learning and teaching priority. EFA’s mandate is to enhance arts education opportunities and programs for every Kalamazoo County school through developing, maintaining and strengthening partnerships between school districts, schools, teachers and the rich array of professional arts institutions in Southwest Michigan.


    Education for the Arts has two major program areas:

    1) Excellence in the Arts | EFA offers arts-intensive classes in the disciplines of theater, musical theater, music, dance, visual arts, digital arts and film/video arts. Excellence in the Arts classes are open to all Kalamazoo County high school students.  Classes are taught by a collaborative team of teachers and professional working artists. Students receive instruction, mentoring and hands-on experience in authentic, artistic environments. For example, the visual arts classes meet at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts.
    2) Arts for All | EFA provides public K-12 schools with a diversity of free arts education enhancement programs, including:
    • Aesthetic Education Program | Aesthetic Education (AE) is a learner-centered, discovery-based curricular program that helps students make meaning of aesthetic experience by putting the artwork at the center of study.  AE develops analytical and critical thinking skills in students through hands-on art-making activities, reflective questioning, and contextual information and research. 
    • Alternative Arts Initiative | AAI provides opportunities for students in non-traditional settings to participate in and engage with the arts.  Teaching Artists collaborate with administrators and educators to design specialized residencies for students to apply the creative process in the development and exhibition of their own work.  To expand and deepen these artistic experiences, the Teaching Artists guide students through the viewing and responding to works of art.
    • EFA Presents! Program | EFA Presents! provides schools with easy access to performances and visual arts exhibitions from around the world. These acclaimed works of art are available to schools at little to no cost, depending on student grade level and the individual work of art. EFA includes an education guide and a limited bus rebate to assist with field trip transportation.
    • PACE Program | Explore!  Create!  Perform!  The PACE Program engages K-8 students in creative movement and drama residencies that spark imagination and personal expression.  Residencies teach the elements of the art form, emphasis artistic expression and the creative process, and celebrate the students' creative work.  To deepen the students' understanding and inspire their own original work, classes have the option of attending a professional dance or theater performance.
    • EFA Bus Rebate | Since 2003, EFA has provided bus transportation rebates for schools to participate in high-quality arts and cultural field trips taken within Kalamazoo County. The program supports the annual attendance of more than 20,000 students in select arts education programming offered by EFA and partnering organizations. Schools contribute $25 per bus round-trip and EFA reimburses the balance at the end of each school year. 
    • Grant Programs | EFA annually awards $205,000 to K-12 schools, teachers/teaching artists and students.

    Awards and Honors

    EFA is recognized as a leader in K-12 arts education for excellence in innovation, philosophy, and practice. In May 2024, EFA received the national Art Schools Network’s Arts Innovation Award. Designed to recognize schools committed to taking innovative artistic risks, this award is presented to a school that has “broken the mold” in using the arts as a vehicle for teaching academics and/or making a positive difference in the lives of students and/or the community. In 2017, EFA was honored to present a keynote address at the Artstate conference in Lismore, Australia, highlighting the unique countywide development of EFA and its collaborative culture. In 2009, EFA received a Distinguished Service Award from the Michigan Art Education Association. In 2006, EFA received the ArtServe Michigan Arts in Education Award. EFA also received the 2005 ArtServe Michigan Governor’s Award for Arts in Education.

    EFA instructional and program staff have been honored for their accomplishments and dedication. The honors include several Community Medal of Arts awards (Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo), Community Dance Advocacy Awards (Western Michigan University’s Partners In Dance), Touchstone Awards for Michigan Dance Teacher of the Year (Michigan Dance Council), Theatre Coach of the Year (Michigan Speech Coaches, Inc.), and Film/Video Educator of the Year (Michigan Youth Arts Association).

  • award