Ask The Experts: Education
Alabama School of Fine Arts
A Conversation with Dr. Tim Mitchell
You’ve recently moved here, can you tell us a little about what brought you to Birmingham?
I’ve been working in education for 30 years and was serving as the director of fine arts for a school outside of Washington, D.C. when I heard about a school in Birmingham called Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA). It had a reputation as a highly respected arts and sciences middle and high school. The school was conducting a search for a new president and I’m thrilled that I started serving in that role in July.
Is ASFA a public school or a private school?
ASFA is a public school. The education is so extraordinary that people often assume the school is private, but it’s not. There is no tuition and students from across the state are able to attend. Students do have to apply to enroll.
How is ASFA different from marching band, AP classes or arts extracurriculars?
Students receive up to three hours of specialty instruction during our extended school day in six specialty areas: creative writing, dance, music, theatre arts, visual arts and math-science in addition to all classes required to earn an advanced Alabama high school diploma. Our students get to work with a nationally acclaimed faculty that teach pre-professional and college preparatory classes at the conservatory and college-level. The outcomes are extraordinary, and our graduates are the proof that getting an education focused on strengths is transformational.
What type of student attends ASFA?
The only word that could describe all our students is passionate. They also are constantly striving for excellence. Our students are dancers, actors, musicians, artists, writers, activists, scientific researchers and so much more. Each student plays a role in the culture of ASFA, which is warm, welcoming, and diverse.
How are your students and faculty reacting to changes due to COVID-19?
We have been able to change and react quickly. We decided to start the year with remote learning, but we have plans to include the option of in-person instruction in our specialty areas as soon as we can. The feedback from parents and students has been overwhelmingly positive. This is not how anyone would want a school year to begin, but we’ve found a number of ways to take advantage of opportunities that would not have happened in a typical school year, including guest artists and collaborators from around the country.
Our faculty has created engaging virtual coursework and they stay directly involved with each student. That along with our robust student support services staff who are teaching and supporting students’ social and emotional learning, creates a dynamic and well-rounded curriculum and support system for students and parents.
Alabama School of Fine Arts
1800 Rev. Abraham Woods, Jr. Blvd.
Birmingham, AL 35203
(205) 252-9241 • www.asfaschool.org