Smarts Adds Staff, Expands Offerings

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – In response to the increasing need for arts education, Students Motivated by the Arts – Smarts – expanded its staff last year. The Youngstown-based organization, led by founder-director Rebecca Keck, gained its first assistant director in Sarah Gabrick.

Smarts also added Alaina Cornfield as education director, Barb Saylor as bookkeeper, and Adam Dominick as staff assistant. These team members joined program managers Jim Hain, DeAudra Edgerson and Sarah Rhodes.

Smarts brought the arts to 19 community events, at which 2,300 children and adults joined activities.

In the 2022-23 school year, Smarts served 6,000 students — over 1,500 more than projected. It also added cello instruction, launched a steel band, and opened the Richard James Hanson library, Keck says. Recognition received in 2023 included CreativeOhio’s first Arts Education Award.

Smarts retains more than 40 teaching artists who provide instruction in the Ohio One building downtown and across the Valley. These instructors lead after-school clubs, join classroom teachers to connect art to core curriculum, and expose students to art in unexpected spaces.

In this way, Smarts has restored arts instruction in PK-12 schools and youth organizations throughout the Mahoning Valley.