Together with the Kennedy Center, local arts organizations, and our coach partners, Turnaround Arts: California gathers Arts Leadership Teams from partner schools across the state annually to develop and deepen arts-rich action plans for school change.
A conversation with Faith Kwon from Ravenswood City School District’s Costaño Elementary School in East Palo Alto, CA.
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 find the joy and anticipation that students and staff bring on the first day of school to be inspiring and contagious.
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!
I am like a worker bee seeking out all the bits of arts resources available in our rural community and bringing them back for my partner schools to turn into educational honey.
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.
My work as a coach is making sure teachers feel supported, successful, and motivated to include the arts in their curriculum development and lesson planning.
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!
I have the great honor to serve and work with educators and whole schools creating and supporting access to arts integration and education on a large scale.
Tell us about yourself
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.
Why did you choose to intern at Turnaround Arts: California?
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.
What do you like most about working with Turnaround Arts: California?
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.
What’s the most exciting thing you worked on?
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.
What was your most memorable experience?
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.
Describe your internship experience in three words
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!
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…
- Be patient, be flexible, and always do what’s best for the kids.
- Advocate for the arts by sharing your school’s #TAcalifornia story through press and social media platforms (i.e. instagram, facebook, and twitter).
- Create arts-based traditions throughout your school calendar (E.g. Latin Dance Festival, Spring arts showcase, etc).
- Ask the Turnaround Arts: California Principal Leadership Coach, Dr. Akida Long, questions! There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. You can learn from others and then tweak it to fit for your school, staff, and students.
- Say YES! Participate in everything you can.
- Relationships matter! Build strong relationships with your teachers, aides, custodians, everyone on campus.
- Catalyze teachers to grow beyond their comfort zone and give the students opportunities to explore and experience things they haven’t.
- Create shared leadership by delegating tasks!
- Always identify and celebrate your school’s successes, ALWAYS.
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.
What drives you and the work you do?
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.
How have the arts impacted the culture and climate of the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District?
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.
Despite your work being district-wide, your office is located on the MLK School of the Arts campus. How does that proximity impact your day-to-day work?
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.
What did you notice about MLK School of the Arts, after it joined the Turnaround Arts: California program?
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.
by Laura Compton, Science teacher at Willard Intermediate School (Santa Ana, CA)
Though one will be hard-pressed to deny the importance of the arts in a school’s curriculum, its place in the worlds of science, math, technology, and engineering may be more difficult to pinpoint. Volcano projects, habitat dioramas, jello mold cells… is that all that arts integration within a science curriculum is? While these projects do bring an art component to the curriculum, they fall short of showing mastery of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
How can art be integrated into science curriculum to effectively show understanding of the NGSS performance expectations?
The answer lies in collaboration.
As a middle school science teacher, I need STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) to manifest into STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math): in which art must work side-by-side with one or more of the disciplines in the acronym. As arts integration educators, we incorporate art within math and technology, just as we do with science.
While planning my Evolution and Extinction curriculum, I wanted to make science and art work together to enhance the students’ learning experiences. I began to research, scour the internet, and seek advice from my coworkers for ideas on how to effectively integrate art into science.
I found my answer on one of my Facebook group pages: a fellow science teacher posted her students’ poetry that she had them create to show their knowledge of space. They were beautiful and truly showed her students’ knowledge of the content. They were called Blackout Poems.
“Blackout Poetry uses the pages of an existing text to isolate, then piece together single words or short phrases from these texts to create lyrical masterpieces. Creating a blackout poem involves steps that are all about deconstruction then reconstruction.”
– John DePasquale’s Blackout Poetry
I needed to incorporate Next Generation Science Standard MS-LS4-4 into my lesson. According to NGSS, students who demonstrate understanding in this standard can “construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.”
The students needed to understand natural selection before they could explain it, and if they were able to do so successfully, then they could construct a piece of poetry to showcase this knowledge.
With a high population of English Language Learners (ELL) and low lexile readers, I began the lesson with a whole group reading strategy using Naturally Selected to Survive an article found on Readworks.com.
Using a reading comprehension strategy similar to Marking, we were able to:
- Review important vocabulary words.
- Highlight the author’s claims.
- Annotate these highlights.
- Connect highlights to our Next Generation Science Standard, MS-LS4-4.
Using this strategy ensured that the students were familiar with the text. In addition, by asking the students to isolate the key words and themes from the reading, and then piecing them together, I could assess the student’s knowledge of natural selection!
I instructed the students using these steps:
- Scan the text for anchor words, one word on the page that stands out because of its meaning or significance. Select three to four anchor words that convey understanding of natural selection.
- Read the article in its entirety. Circling words that relate to the anchor words chosen.
- Using a new blank piece of paper, write the words in the same place they appear on the text.
- Here’s where the creativity begins: select words, without changing their order, so they can be pieced together to create a poem.
- When the poem is completed, return to the original text. Erase the circled words that are not used for the poem and emphasize the words that are going to be highlighted.
- Draw over “blacked out” words with an illustration that emphasizes the meaning of the poem.
My students couldn’t get enough of this project. Some of them made two, three, even four pieces of poetry! The best part? Students had to read the text three to five times. They were reading it, learning about science concepts, and loving using art and science together!
See below for students’ written statements about their Blackout Poetry, where they reflect on their science and art learning from the project, and articulate how the arts deepened their motivation and interest levels.
I would love to share and collaborate.
Twitter/instagram: @Compton1206, @WillardInt
By Jacob Campbell, Program Manager for Turnaround Arts: California
I recently made a trip out to Santa Ana, CA, to see how Sierra Preparatory Academy’s first year as a Turnaround Arts: California partner school has been going, and I was blown away by the infusion of arts projects and instructional strategies that have begun to permeate all areas of this special school.