“The arts honor the uniqueness of each individual, invite opportunities to control learning through creative choices, and allow young people to explore a variety of ways to communicate.” – Kristina Berdan – Education Director of Young Audiences of Maryland
Often, an organization is only perceived through its events, programs, and results (as it is intended to). Affili-Nations mission is to introduce the YA community to the incredible people in each Affiliate organization who make the magic happen. Meet Kristina Berdan – Education Director of Young Audiences of Maryland
Arts in education, to Kristina, means the opportunity to reach every child and have every child express their understanding in their own unique ways. She believes it is even more critical now--with education policy focused on standards and assessments, and the increasing cultural divides in our country, that young people have the opportunity to learn in and through the arts. She says, “the arts also provide a vehicle for stepping out of our comfort zones and learning about others; it creates the community that is essential for young people to build empathy, take risks, and make valuable contributions to our world.” Ultimately, Kristina believes that the arts help students discover who they are, what matters to them, and their place in the world.
Kristina started teaching when educators were given much more autonomy with developing and delivering curriculum. After taking an arts integration course at Towson University, she realized that this was her calling. From there, her journey expanded as she soaked up everything she could about engaging young people through the arts. She began consulting with Young Audiences at the Teaching Artist Institute, and partnered with the Maryland Institute College of Art to bring graduate students into a youth center where the two types of students worked alongside one another to create art and community.
Kristina absolutely loves the collaboration, support and encouragement at Young Audiences. She is given the freedom to think outside the box, try new things and trust her gut, while also having an incredible team of people who are there to ask questions, give feedback, and noodle through challenges. Kristina feels that working closely with teaching artists through the Teaching Artist Institute, and especially through YA Maryland’s Summer Arts and Learning Academies, confirms everyday how powerful the arts are in the lives of students and community. She says that student’s engagement through the arts inevitably has an impact on the broader community of families, friends, and community members who are able to celebrate this learning.