MOLINE, Illinois -- An Illinois art teacher is taking a year away from the classroom to advocate bringing arts back into school curriculum across the state. That teacher is the reigning Miss Illinois, and has turned this passion into her platform.
Ariel Beverly started a statewide tour on September 1, 2019 to spread to word, advocating for arts in education. She said students who come from low-income households are five times more likely to graduate if they have access to arts along the way. This includes traditional art classes, music education, and the performing arts.
Beverly said she wants to see at least one fine arts teacher in every school. She also is pushing for high schools to require at least one credit in the arts in order to graduate.
"The arts have such a positive impact on students," said Beverly. "It doesn't matter if they're going to grow up to be artists or musicians. There are so many useful skills that come from being involved in the arts."
Before taking her crown as Miss Illinois, the East Moline native taught art to high school students at Glenwood High School in Chatham, Illinois, located south of Springfield. She graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in art education and an emphasis in ceramics. She had previously attended Black Hawk College in Moline.
During her tour across the state, she planned to meet with city officials, lawmakers and school boards.
As an aside, Beverly is working on a statewide #IncludeTheArts Postcard Project, which could land students the opportunity to win $1,000 toward art education supplies for their school. The blank white postcards are being distributed around the state, allowing for students to create their own artwork on the cards. Once finished, the cards will be collected and presented to Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, with the goal of opening a discussion with Illinois lawmakers.
Beverly will be competing in the Miss America 2020 Competition on December 19.