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The Education Revolution at Butler Tech’s School of the Arts

Visitors at Butler Tech’s School of the Arts (SOA) are greeted by the sounds of songs from the movie Footloose, followed by cheering. Auditions are underway, and each performance elicits applause and encouragement. What began as a corrections academy in the mid-2000s is now an education revolution in career tech. 

Principal and Creative Director for SOA Kimheart Moeung says, “I have never worked for a company so passionate about its product and so intent on removing any possible barriers.” 

Students and parents from 13 affiliated school districts are catching on to the unique opportunities provided through the SOA. Students are admitted through a lottery process. There aren’t auditions or interviews; all levels are accepted–even beginners. 

The SOA offers five programs: Dance, Instrumental Music, Theatre, Visual Art and Design and Vocal Music. Moeung refers to the SOA as a “business of entertainment school.” Students learn to be their own boss by tracking expenses, giving pitches, marketing themselves, forming an LLC and more. 

When hiring instructors, Moeung looks for individuals passionate about student success. It’s important for art instructors to practice their art and for academic teachers to integrate art into the curriculum. Their teachers across all subjects exemplify devotion to students and the arts.

Instrumental Instructor Mark Becknell is a freelance musician who teaches students how to make a living as musicians. They study performing, recording, technology, music marketing, networking and more. 

He says, “I appreciate that the SOA allows students to focus on what they want to do with real-life skills”. 

The instrumental music program at the SOA is unique because it is a commercial program centered on modern music as opposed to the classical approach found in most schools,  including the college level. Students participate in five big shows and student-led mini-shows where they are responsible for auditions, setlists, running rehearsals and more. Recently, Becknell arranged to have the mini-shows performed at Pullman Lanes, an entertainment complex in Hamilton that offers bowling, volleyball and live music. 

Social Studies Instructor Valerie Folz cultivates meaningful relationships and creates an open culture so students feel safe and valued. She helps students demonstrate their mastery of state standards through art. She is currently leading a unique civic involvement project with her students. 

“[It] involves students choosing a civil issue, researching using credible sources, developing a personal stance to form their political identity and using their art to educate or influence others,” Folz explains. “I love how Butler Tech takes risks to benefit students,” she adds. 

Zea, a senior in the dance program at the SOA, lights up when talking about Folz’s civic involvement project. He recognizes that using art in academic classes is helpful for students with different learning styles. A fan of the block schedule–two academic and two art classes–Zea also appreciates the responsibility and trust given to students. 

“I chose to attend Butler Tech because of the sense of community I felt when I visited,” Zea says.

From administrators to instructors to students, at the SOA and throughout Butler Tech, the gratitude and passion for the school are easily seen and felt. Butler Tech gives students the opportunity to thrive as they learn to do what they love.

Butler Tech’s Hands-On Programs

In addition to the SOA, Butler Tech offers hands-on learning for high school and adult students, launching locals in a wide range of successful careers. 

 High School Programs

  • Automotive Technology

  • Aviation

  • Biomedical, Dental, Healthcare + Exercise Sciences

  • Business

  • Career Exploration Academy

  • Construction

  • Cosmetology

  • Criminal Justice

  • Culinary Arts

  • Dance

  • Digital Media

  • Emergency Medical Technician

  • Engineering

  • Equine Science

  • Firefighting Technology

  • Graphic Design

  • Green Engineering

  • Information Technology

  • Mechatronics

  • Music: Instrumental + Vocal 

  • Theatre

  • Veterinary Science

  • Visual Art + Design

  • Welding Technology

Adult Education Programs

Butler Tech’s Adult Education is an affordable opportunity to start a new career. Explore a full list of courses in the Adult Education Catalog, available online.

  • Health Care

  • Industrial Technology

  • Public Safety

  • Transportation