Compton Unified School District
Los Angeles County
In 2009, Martin Luther King Elementary was one of the lowest performing schools in the state and the lowest performing school in the Compton Unified School District.
Over the past five years, the principal and staff have focused on targeted intervention instruction for students, improving standards-based instruction, and developing positive relationships with families. Since partnering with Turnaround Arts: California in 2014, full-time music and art teachers have been hired, teachers have integrated the arts into the core content areas, and the school environment has drastically improved. Burgeoning violin students performed at the House of Blues with instruments donated by the House of Blues Music Forward Foundation. The school has developed partnerships with several local arts organizations including Music Unites, Theater of Hearts, and Get Lit – Words Ignite. In April 2015, they produced their first-ever school musical, Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka Kids. The school’s Turnaround Artist, Forest Whitaker, has visited the school several times to participate in arts integrated lessons, inspire performers, and pilot the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative conflict resolution curriculum. As part of the Turnaround Arts: California Regional Coach Program, the school receives ongoing, in-person coaching in arts integration strategies and strategic arts planning from P.S. ARTS. National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu and Turnaround Artists Frank Gehry and Elizabeth Banks have visited the school to observe the impact of the arts on student learning. In May 2016, nine students from King Elementary were invited to perform an original spoken word piece at the Turnaround Arts Talent Show, hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House!