A Visual Arts education is essential to the fundamental growth and development of all students. As an important component of a well-balanced learning experience, art education is a powerful influence in making students more discriminating and more sensitive to the things they see, use, and create in their everyday lives. Art helps students make informed, conscious aesthetic judgments and decisions. The North Allegheny Visual Arts Department believes that every student’s life will be enriched and improved through art education, that they will become life-long learners and patrons of art, and that they will join in the continuing conversation about the nature and meaning of art in life. Regardless of ability, the North Allegheny Visual Arts Department believes that all students benefit equally from art education and that opportunities for art education should be accessible and inclusive to every child.

    From a global perspective, art education teaches visual literacy, which is vital to the development of citizens in our society because it is one of the primary forms of communication. The ability to make discerning evaluations of symbolic communications is critical in preparing children to live in our contemporary world. The creation of art is a discipline involving a structured creative process. Concepts, such as creativity and innovation, are receiving increased support as vital skills for 21st Century learners. It is the belief of the North Allegheny Visual Arts Department that all professions and career paths benefit greatly from a foundation in the arts. The study and practice of art serves to facilitate organization, planning, goal-setting, research, idea formation, observational skills, creative thinking, risk-taking, and the ability to carry an idea through to completion. The visual arts stimulate a behavior of sustained engagement, self-discipline, and persistence that results in a higher quality of product. It is important to help children discover their aptitudes and interests.  Art education fosters the capacity to appreciate diversity. Through art, students learn tolerance, respect, attitudes, and values that have value in a global society.

    The content of art education consists of knowledge, understanding, and skills drawn from Art Production, Art History, Art Criticism, and Aesthetic Appreciation. The integration of these four strands provides the basic content for art education at North Allegheny. Art Production is the primary approach to understanding, responding to and appreciating visual arts through actual engagement in the creative process. Students learn to discover and formulate original ideas and then effectively communicate them through visual media.  Art History provides students with the opportunity to discover how art of present and past world civilizations has reflected, communicated, and changed the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs of people. This includes various expressions of art content and form. Art Criticism is the study of applying informed criteria for responding to and evaluating works of art. Art Criticism develops careful attention to detail and the ability to analyze and make meaning of a complex array of visual information in artworks.  Art Criticism is learning to distinguish between subjective and objective criteria by looking at multiple critics’ points of view and methods. Finally, Aesthetic Appreciation synthesizes Art Production, Art History, and Art Criticism to arrive at the position of valuing the artists, the processes, and the products of visual art. Aesthetic Appreciation is having a well-developed, knowledgeable standard of belief for measuring the purpose, significance, and benefits of art.
    The elementary art classes, offered to students in Kindergarten through fifth grade, develop the foundational understanding and skills in the visual arts. Students practice artistic activities that develop creative strategies, skills, and habits of mind. This work supports design literacy in the language of visual composition and expression.
    Through the Elementary Visual Arts Curriculum, students: 
    • Acquire procedural knowledge, skill, and craftsmanship through the art making process.
    • Develop understanding of the meaning and purpose of visual art. 
    • Explore our rich and diverse historical and cultural heritage through the study of visual art.
    • Develop aesthetic judgment that supports the making and understanding of rich meaning in art.
    Students in the elementary program attend Art class for one class period each week for the entire school year. Classes additionally meet for an "Integrated Day" once every three weeks. Classes are taught by certified art specialists. Fourth Grade Art classes travel to the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh to view and discuss the work of artists they have studied. Building exhibitions mounted in each elementary building often explore integrated themes.