STUDENTS THRIVE IN THE ARTS AT MIAMI LEARNING EXPERIENCE SCHOOL
Originally published on http://artburstmiami.com.
Written By Gina Perez
Miami Learning Experience School 501 C3 (MLE) is a special education school for students with different learning abilities in South Miami. Founded 47 years ago to address the needs of individuals with Down Syndrome, today it has expanded and covers all exceptionalities. “Foremost, MLE is a school providing the same experiences for their students that students would experience at any school,” said Kevin Grace, Executive Director at MLE. And with any school curriculum, visual arts and music programs are part of their offering.
The school has dedicated the assets needed so their students have the resources they need — a dedicated and talented staff to oversee the visual arts and music programs and materials. They have a dedicated art and music room that the kids enjoy as it gives them a chance to express themselves. “Creativity is not stymied by one’s disabilities or differing abilities. I think it channels their artistic abilities,” said Grace.
Students take part in four yearly events that are open to the public: a holiday show in December, a talent show in February, a musical in April, and an Art Night in May. The art curriculum is very important for these children. For those that are non-verbal, it’s their way to communicate and express themselves. It is their opportunity to articulate their feelings, thoughts, and creativity. Being able to express themselves artistically helps them fine tune their motor and listening skills and provides them with choices; something we take for granted.
MLE offers educational programs for children K-12 and an adult day program; each tailored to the developmental needs of the student. In their quest to provide the best education, the Board of Directors has approved expanding the school. They will be breaking ground on a new state-of-the-art building this fall. With the new addition, the arts program will be expanded and the room will include a kiln for firing pottery.
Community involvement from parents and community partners is very important to the school. “When our community partners come to the school to work with our kids, it adds another layer and opportunity for our kids to grow and others to learn about us,” said Grace. Such instances have included a parent/child painting workshop led by artist Roxy Sora. In another instance, a design firm partnered with the children and created a design for wallpaper; to mention a few partners.
As a nonprofit, they are owned by the Board of Trustees. All funds raised through the various events and donations are used to provide a better educational experience for the students they serve. “I have a very strong philosophy,” said Grace. “We want to show our kids to the world and the world to our kids. The more we can do and the more opportunities we have, the better both our kids are and the world is.” To learn more about Miami Learning Experience School, please visit their website, www.mleschool.org.