Candy Schneider, Educator Vice President of Education and Outreach, The Smith Center “Education is in our DNA,” Smith Center President/CEO Myron Martin says. “It’s been that way since day one. Candy joined us five years before the first shovel ever hit the ground. Her journey began however, 33 years ago as a visual arts teacher for the Clark County School District. Later, she did a stint as an administrator in visual arts curriculum development, and was an assistant director in the School-Community Partnership Program. Her appointments include the National Art Educators Association, Getty Center for Arts Education, National Endowment for the Arts, Nevada State Education Curriculum Standards, Las Vegas Centennial City of 100 Murals, Lied Discovery Children’s Museum, VSA Nevada, the Nevada Alliance for Arts Education, the Las Vegas Arts Commission, Metro Arts Council of Southern Nevada and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts – Partners in Education program. She served on the Board of the Nevada Arts Council from 1995 through June 2007 and in 2007, received The National Art Education Association’s Nevada Art Educator of the Year Award. A year later, she was honored at the Governor’s Arts Awards for Distinguished Service in the Arts. Candy is practically a native Nevadan. She and her family moved from Florida to Las Vegas when she was 6 months old. She and her husband, recently retired Sen. Mike Schneider, D-Clark County, have a son and granddaughter. DAVID: When did your passion for education take root? SCHNEIDER: I remember clearly my seventhgrade teacher. I wanted to be like her. She had a wonderful and sensitive personality, and she inspired me to dream big. She was able to relate to kids in a way that other teachers could not. DAVID: Why arts education in particular? SCHNEIDER: The arts are part of basic education. They develop the whole child. Arts reach into literary skills, social development, self-confidence, imagination, creativity and problem-solving. Exposure to the arts has proven to enhance a child’s mental and cognitive abilities, increase their cultural understanding, improve performance across
all curriculum areas and develop social skills. DAVID: How do you compete with movies, television and video games to attract young people to the Smith Center? SCHNEIDER: The idea is not to compete but to offer diverse opportunities. Children are naturally drawn to the arts. They automatically respond to rhythm, music, colors and live visual imagery. The proof is in the outcome. There’s the sheer joy of unloading buses and listening to the kids after a performance they’ve been to. Some of them haven’t been out of their neighborhoods. They come here and see sculpture, architecture and then that sea of upholstered seats. When the lights dim they see things on stage that they haven’t seen before. They didn’t know where music came from. They’re energized. They’re learning. DAVID: What are some of the programs and partnerships you’ve developed thus far to realize the value of arts education and outreach? SCHNEIDER: As part of their appearance at The Smith Center, we’ve partnered with the internationally renowned Wolf Trap Institute in Virginia to train our preschool teachers in using the arts to enhance preschoolers’ learning. We’ve partnered with the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., to provide professional development training for K-eighth-grade teachers on how to use the arts to increase learning in all subjects. Camp Broadway, out of New York, brings kids to the Smith Center for a week over the summer for performance training. And the new Smith Center High School Musical Theater Awards debuts this summer with a community-wide competition that culminates in an event at The Smith Center. It will raise the profile of theater students, educators and local high school arts programs. DAVID: Why has it taken The Smith Center to open our eyes to culture in Las Vegas? SCHNEIDER: Las Vegas has always had a ton of arts, but people typically have not gone out of their way to find it. The philharmonic is not going to send a van to your front door. The Smith Center has increased visibility. However, it’s up to our residents to engage. I, frankly, can’t think of a more exciting place to be.
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