From left to right: Malissa Shriver, Dr. Gudiel Crosthwaite, Dr. Eduardo Reyes, Dr. Darin Brawley, Jennifer Lane, Dr. Michelle Rodriguez, Dr. Eduardo Reyes, Barbara Palley, and Holly Bass

Turnaround Arts: California was thrilled to honor six superintendents from partner school districts with a Creative Leadership award in recognition of their commitment to the arts as an essential tool for learning engagement and college and career readiness in the 21st century. The award reception took place on Wednesday, February 7th, at the Westin South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. Honorees included:

Dr. Darin Brawley
Compton Unified School District
Dr. Eduardo Reyes
Chula Vista Elementary School District
Dr. Gudiel Crosthwaite
Lynwood Unified School District
Jennifer Lane
Klamath-Trinity Joint Unified School District
Jerry Almendarez
Santa Ana Unified School District
Dr. Michelle Rodriguez
Stockton Unified School District

“With everything a District Superintendent oversees and is accountable for, it is a rare and brave leader who empowers principals and teachers to do this kind of innovative and creative work. We have been blessed to be able to partner with these extraordinary professional educators, who have amplified learning and are enhancing teaching through the arts,” shared Malissa Shriver, Co-founder and Board Chair of Turnaround Arts: California

Decades of research show that students with arts-rich instruction see big leaps in reading and math skills, are 5x less likely to drop out of school, and 4x more likely to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Yet in California, the creative capital of the world, a staggering 61% of public school students don’t have access to music and arts education. By partnering with Turnaround Arts: California, these superintendents have demonstrated their commitment to ensuring access to high-quality arts instruction for their students – from arts-integrated math and history curriculum, to murals, poetry and drumming workshops, family art nights, and more. Turnaround Arts supports the 11 partner schools within these districts to use the arts to boost academic engagement, social-emotional learning, and ensure equitable outcomes for all students.

“At a time when schools are grappling with an unprecedented student mental health crisis, ‘learning loss,’ and high rates of teacher burnout, the arts have been a powerful tool to improve the well-being of students, deepen their engagement in classroom learning, and empower teachers to better meet student needs,” shared Turnaround Arts: California’s Executive Director Barbara Palley. “The arts are an essential tool for building connections and the joy of learning in schools.”

From left to right: Willard Intermediate Principal Bertha Benavides, Superintendent of Santa Ana Unified School District Jerry Almendarez, Music Teacher Dylan Aguilera, and Band Director Jeremy DelaCuadra with members of Willard Intermediate’s Jazz Band.

Photos by Rudy Torres at NightFlare