Dale D. Erickson, CEO & Superintendent of the Calgary Arts Academy
Kathleen Renne talks to Dale D. Erickson
Mr. Erickson began his teaching career at Dr. Gordon Townsend School in 1976. Administrative positions held by Mr. Erickson include: Resource Teacher, Assistant Principal and Principal. Positions related to the Arts include music teacher, music therapist, band and choral instructor. He is currently the CEO/Superintendent of Calgary Arts
Academy. He is an accomplished musician and choir director.
In 1999, Mr. Erickson was the champion for a group of community members who wanted to ‘change’ education by providing students with a unique opportunity to learn through the Arts by opening a public charter school. As the arts and education expert, Mr. Erickson designed an Arts Immersion planning model to be used by teachers and artists in order to deliver the Alberta Curriculum. The Minister of Education approved the formation of Calgary Arts Academy in April 2003. In August 2003, Calgary Arts Academy opened its doors.
Calgary Arts Academy is performance based; students are involved in the all aspects of performance including script writing. There is presently a minimum of ten student performances each year. Notably, Year 8/9 students perform at Vertigo Theatre and all students perfom, at the Southem Alberta Jubilee Auditorium for the winter celebration of the Arts. This is accomplished through forming community partnerships that are mutually beneficial. A small sample of current partnerships is: Dr. Robert Kelly (The University of Calgary), Dr. Larry O’Farrell (Queens University), James Zhan (Tianjiao Education Group) and the Calgary Stampede.
Planning for the creation of a unique learning environment was accomplished through a focus on four pillars: The Circle of Courage, Developmental Assets, Democratic Discipline and Learning Contracts. Mr. Erickson planned to ensure quality of place, which contributes to the development of human capital by attracting individuals looking for the most desirable working conditions through ensuring transparency in governance, promoting artistic innovation and encouraging stakeholders to take risks. In addition, Mr. Erickson ensures substantial quality professional development opportunities are available for all. He has embraced the Calgary Arts Academy Society Board of Direcfors comprised of passionate, spirited citizens who value Arts in Education.
“Community engagement” is key to the success of our program, says Mr. Erickson. Senior citizens are an untapped resource. The Adult Community Choir, whose membership is open to the community, is the official ambassador of Calgary Arts Academy. This group has been operating for eighteen years. Initially, the choir was a small group of parents who were recruited as role-models, demonstrating life-long learning and performing with and for students and the community. Mr. Erickson created and has embraced this community choir as the director andlor pianist for eighteen years. In 2008, the Adult Choir was invited and hosted by Tianjiao International and the Beijing Ministry of Education to perform in China. The Calgary Adult Choir was the first Canadian group to perform on the Great Wall of China.
Today, Calgary Arts Academy provides the highest level of artistic arts education within an inclusive environment. Calgary Arts Academy serves 500 students, Kindergarten through the Year 9, located in two schools; Glenmeadows Elementary and Knob Hill Middle School. Calgary Arts Academy hires full-time artists (8) to plan and deliver the curriculum with teachers who are artists in their own right. This is unique in Canada. In addition, funding is provided to hire short-term contract artists, as requested by educators. All of this is accomplished with basic public education funding provided by Alberta Education.
As the key representative from Calgary Arts Academy, Mr. Erickson is working with Calgary Stampede representatives to construct purpose built fucilities, celebrating Western Heritage and Culture, Education and the Arts for the local, national and international communities. The Youth Campus will improve the quality of life, enhance creativity and innovation as well as creating an environment that values diversity, increasing our opportunity to attract diverse residents and visitors.
Mr. Erickson is a visionary who makes dreams a reality. He is well known for his innovation in the Arts and Education. He empowers students, staff, families and the local, national and international communities to be spirited citizens and lilè-long learners.
Ney Rosauro: Concerto for Marimba & Strings
by Evelyn Glennie / Scottish CO / Paul Daniel