CUMBERLAND — Museums contain countless collections of materials that can enhance educational exercises in the classroom.

“The nice thing is that it’s hands-on — people can interact with the objects,” said Julie Ferris, a University of Maryland professor who developed a program that uses museums for curriculum development.

Ferris will teach two University of Maryland classes at the Gilchrist Museum — Museums as Educational Resources from July 6 to 26 and Practicum in Museum Education during the fall semester.

Museums can be used to enhance all subjects, not just the arts, she said.

Randall Rhodes, chair of the visual arts department at Frostburg State University, will teach an FSU class — The Arts: Contrasts and Connections — from May 30 until July 7.

“It’s an initiative to create more arts awareness in Western Maryland,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes’ class will teach students how images can be used to support verbal discussion.

Although current teachers are prime candidates for the course, other people may also enroll, according to Rhodes. The courses are designed for graduate credits, recertification credit and adult education.

If the model program is successful, the courses could be implemented in other parts of the state, said Ferris. Cumberland was selected as the initial location because it is one of the two artist communities designated by the state, said Ferris.

“The unique thing is we’re actually coming to the community,” said Ferris. “Cumberland is really becoming an arts center.”

The program will be advantageous to cultural institutions and the public school system, said Ferris. She wants educational materials developed in the courses to be used in the Allegany County public schools after-school program.

“In cooperation with Julie Ferris, we’re planning to implement this when the program is available,” said Craig Schutz, supervisor of fine arts at the Allegany County Board of Education.

“Community outreach is a big part of what we do — I think it’s an exciting program,” said David Ottalini, University of Maryland senior media relations associate.

Although the deadline to register for Rhodes’ class has passed, students may register for the other two courses. To enroll, contact Toyia Younger at (301) 405-0902 or tyounger

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Jennifer Raley can be reached at

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