A conversation with Faith Kwon from Ravenswood City School District’s Costaño Elementary School in East Palo Alto, CA.
A conversation with Faith Kwon from Ravenswood City School District’s Costaño Elementary School in East Palo Alto, CA.
This fall, Turnaround Arts: California hosted Inside Out Project Group Actions to support our newest cohort of schools in making bold, visual statements about their commitment to leveraging the arts for educational equity. From our state’s southern border to our northern coast, first-year #TAcalifornia teams transformed campus walls into celebratory messages of creativity, community, and identity — bringing the magic of teaching and learning through the arts from the inside… out!
Mary Chapa Academy partnered with Turnaround Arts: California in 2014, and their journey of school change through the arts is truly remarkable. Thank you to Nabil Abdulkadir for capturing their story!
Our Regional Coaches support schools in their implementation of the Turnaround Arts program, building teacher leadership to transform school climate, culture, and engagement through the arts.
To kick off the back-to-school season, they delivered treats to Turnaround Arts: California schools across the state. Keep scrolling to learn more about some of them!
J. Mimi Dojka
I am an arts education consultant for Create Humboldt and local public schools and non-profit arts organizations. As a Turnaround Arts: California Regional Coach I I support two new Turnaround Arts: California Schools, Pine Hill Elementary and South Bay Elementary, located in Eureka, California. I also form collaborative partnerships between our schools and community-based arts institutions, including the Morris Graves Museum of Art and the Humboldt State University Art Education program.
I am a project coordinator with North Coast Arts Integration Project and a Turnaround Arts: California Regional Coach. This new year, I am excited for the classroom teachers, staff, and parents, who will get to see their students in a whole new light through the arts!
P.S. ARTS| Los Angeles County
I am a Program Manager at P.S. ARTS. As a Turnaround Arts: California Regional Coach, I provide consistent on-site support for eight Turnaround Arts: California schools. My primary goal as a coach is to increase classroom teachers’ capacity to integrate arts content and instructional strategies in meaningful ways. I help teachers by delivering tailored professional development workshops on arts integration strategies in alignment with Common Core and providing explicit classroom modeling of whole school arts-based practices.
Sunset Center| Central California
I work at the Sunset Cultural Center as the Community Engagement Manager and I am also the Turnaround Arts: California Regional Coach for the Central Coast schools!
We added 10 more elementary and middle schools to the #TAcalifornia family. Scroll down to learn about each one of them!
Every Friday for the next 10 Fridays, we’re highlighting one of our 10 new #TAcalifornia schools! Meet Frank J. Zamboni Middle School, our 1st school located in the Paramount Unified School District. We know that Zamboni Middle School is #TurnaroundArts ready because of their strong and passionate staff, eager to enhance core content areas with #artsintegration. 🎨📚✨
“Having this partnership with Turnaround Arts: California will be transformative by providing equity, access and opportunity to all students regardless of socio-economic background and race.” said Principal Monica Ruiz. 🙌🏼🙌🏽🙌🏾 Montgomery Elementary believes in fostering student creativity and critical thinking to problem solve for the greater good. Definitely #TAcalifornia ready! 😄🎉
“As a Turnaround Arts school we’ll ask, ‘What more can we do? How can we tap into our students’ natural curiosity and encourage them to express their creative ideas?’” With such a strong growth mindset, @mpusdway’s Marina Vista Elementary is a force to be reckoned with. 👊🏽 Their teachers and staff know that all children, no matter their background, are innately curious learners. In true #TAcalifornia spirit, they welcome all with open arms. 🏫💕✨
Welcoming our 3rd school in the Compton Unified School District! Dr. Jennifer Kang Moon, Principal at McKinley, believes that by partnering with #TAcalifornia, “McKinley will expand arts programming to increase student motivation and narrow the achievement gap.” If you can dream it, you can do it! 🌚🌝💭
“By the hair on your chinny chin chin, I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in!” 🦊💨🐷🐷🐷 . . Did you know that when children participate in theater, they’re also developing self-confidence, empathy, and literacy? @lausd_arts Tweedy Eagles certainly do. Thrilled to welcome you all to our #TAcalifornia team!
I am a public school kid from Long Beach, CA, double-majoring in Public Health and Dance. I am currently a Junior attending Tulane University through the Posse Foundation, which provided me with a leadership and merit-based full-tuition scholarship.
This summer I was lucky enough to be the Program Research Intern for Turnaround Arts: California thanks to the Getty Foundation Multicultural Undergraduate Internship program. Over the past 10 weeks, I’ve been collaborating with the program team to research local arts and cultural resources and create asset-maps for the different regions across California where Turnaround Arts: California schools are located.
I chose to intern with Turnaround Arts: California because I found unique parallels between public health and their work in arts integration within elementary and middle schools.
Public health programs seek to address a health issue by suggesting an intervention that is developed in collaboration with members of the program’s community. Similarly, Turnaround Arts: California seeks to empower historically marginalized and inadequately resourced elementary and middle schools by strategically leveraging the arts towards school-defined goals.
In fact, research shows that access to the arts improve health outcomes, and learning about arts education through this internship was a way I hoped to explore that connection.
The amount of faith the staff had in me! Yes, I had my individual work, but I was also invited from the very beginning to learn about the program, participate in conversations, and help out wherever I could. The staff was always open to answer any questions I had or to listen to my thoughts. They were eager to support and get to know me. It was empowering to be included like that.
Researching arts and cultural community assets was both exciting and terrifying. Exciting because I had a lot of flexibility with my own work — from searching for local organizations to deciding how to record and present my data. Plus, I got to learn a lot about some incredible arts communities and local arts education work being done across California. But, terrifying because the fear of failure or feelings of not having done enough can be daunting.
During our annual staff retreat, we had an intentional conversation about equity and anti-racism. I felt proud of being a part of a team who sees value in dialogue and understands how race and class impact ourselves as individuals, the work we’re doing, and the people we’re serving. Getting to participate in the first of many discussions about that was very special to me, and I’m so excited for them to continue that work.
Manage your expectations.
(An important reminder for those of us who tend to be overambitious when setting them.)
Shout out to Barbara, Angela, Heather, and Jacob! They are all incredible, and I will miss working with all of them. And, best of luck to our new Turnaround Arts: California schools — I’m so excited for you all to join the family and continue growing through the arts!
This summer, Turnaround Arts teams from across the nation gathered at Airlie in Warrenton, Virginia to explore the question: How can we leverage the arts to increase equity for our students and community?
In their final retreat hour, new and veteran members of our #TAcalifornia team shared a reflective performance piece. Watch their performance below:
I used to think Turnaround Arts was a grant…
But, now I think it’s instructional strategies that will help our school.
I used to think Turnaround Arts was a prescribed curriculum…
But, now I think it’s a lot of freedom.
I used to think Turnaround Arts sent specialists to our school to teach our kids…
But, now I think we are the specialists.
I used to think Turnaround Arts was one more thing on my plate…
But, now I think it will enhance my plate.
I used to think Turnaround Arts was more work…
But, now I think it will make work more fun.
We used to think Turnaround Arts was far off…
But, now we think it’s family.
Have you heard? Turnaround Arts: California is expanding to include 10 more elementary and middle schools this August!
This means that, in total, we will be serving:
In preparation for Turnaround Arts: California’s expansion, this past spring we held three principal-focused meetings across the state.
Current principals shared sage advice with our incoming principals about what it takes to be a #TAcalifornia elementary and middle school. Scroll down to see our favorite words of wisdom:
& even more…
By leveraging resources, building school capacity, and raising visibility about why and how the arts have helped their schools, principals are a key pillar in leading arts-fueled school change efforts.
We recently spoke with Jaqui Hope, the Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator (VAPA) of the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District (MPUSD), to gain a more in-depth view of her work to improve K-12 education through the arts.
As a VAPA Coordinator Ms. Hope creates, upgrades, and manages the visual and performing arts at all her school sites – a total of 20 elementary, middle, and high schools! Two of which — MLK School of the Arts in Seaside and Marina Vista Elementary School in Marina Vista — are Turnaround Arts: California partner schools.
My motivation largely stems from my childhood experiences. When I was 13, my childhood best friend was killed in an accident and I didn’t have the toolkit to express how I was feeling and what I was going through. I felt crazy and misunderstood. When I turned to the arts – poetry and music specifically – I remember beginning to find solace and acceptance in my thoughts by creating songs about how I was feeling and my journey through processing all sorts of emotions.
Creating songs was critical for my process because mental health was not at the forefront of the adults around me – parents, teachers and the like. I think back to this experience and it makes me empathize with kids that may be falling through the cracks in our current school system.
My goal is to make sure that students experiencing any sort of trauma rise to their fullest potential. I believe that the arts are a great tool to help them get there.
The second reason is because I want to foster our collective future. I feel like sometimes our educational system shuts down a student’s intellect. We celebrate those with a great ability to memorize and those that happened to get the math lesson as it was offered at that particular time.
What we really need is to create a culture of deep thinkers: students with the skills to see that there might be multiple valid solutions to a problem.
Students with regular access to the arts have the capacity to think deeply.
Upon Superintendent PK Diffenbaugh’s hire in 2014, MPUSD’s shift towards the arts began. He was intentional about hiring a Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator.
Hiring staff centered on the arts sets the tone – it says that our district places value in the arts and what it can do for our students.
When I first arrived, there was a lot of stress around structure because of mandated minutes — teachers worried themselves over giving enough minutes of instruction in English and Math. I was shocked because I knew that there is so much more out there, so much more for these kids.
Flashforward to now – it’s night and day.
We have a superintendent and leadership team that’s really about growth mindset. We focus on our assets, and understand that we can always improve and bolster our skills. We understand that growth mindset and the arts go together like peanut butter and jelly.
When you’re bringing new arts to kids – I feel like that’s exactly what we’re doing.
Creativity and curiosity is celebrated when there is no one solution at the end of an arts process.
It’s great! I see the kids a lot. There’s actually a group of fourth graders who like to hang out in my office after school. Which has its pros and cons… sometimes I have to create a spreadsheet and there’s a game of tag going on in my office!
I was at the district office for my first few years and then they decided to place me on campus to support local school arts activities. Because sometimes school staff need an extra hand to talk to the sound guy, or interface with the director, or whatever when you’re having special programs. The close proximity makes a difference.
My more interlocked experience at MLK makes me want to be very intentional about Marina Vista Elementary School when it enters the Turnaround Arts: California program in the new school year – I plan to connect with teachers and faculty even more so, to make sure they are supported.
There is much more parent involvement.
Whether it’s a group of parents painting to beautify the school or helping out with the plays or the art exhibits. It’s a relaxed way for them to participate. Many of our parents have newly immigrated to California so, understandably, they are new to California’s education system. Inviting them to their children’s school to visit and be involved in their children’s lives – I see a level of comfort and ease that I didn’t see before we used the arts to engage them.
It’s a softer environment – the kids are a little bit more open.
I just wanted to thank Turnaround Arts: California for the work you do for kids and schools. I was so moved as I sat there at the Kennedy Center [for the Turnaround Arts Talent Show] in the dark, often with tears welling, listening to the powerful spoken word poetry and watching experts and their students move so beautifully…this is an amazing organization.
Thank you for bringing me into a fold, and making sure the arts are there to catch our kids.