The Turnaround Arts: California Regional Coach Pilot Program (RCPP) is up-and-running in our 16 partner schools across the state, and we are learning so much as we work collaboratively with local partners to align coaching, arts integration, and artist residency resources to target school-identified goals for growth. Recently, we convened our statewide network of coaches at the Turnaround Arts Local Program Staff Retreat generously hosted by Loyola Marymount University. Representatives from Alameda County Office of Education, Integrated Learning Department, CoTA (Collaborations: Teachers and Artists), North Coast Arts Integration Project, Orange County Department of Education, P.S. ARTS, and Sunset Center joined forces with Turnaround Arts teams from across the nation to discuss best practices in program implementation with an eye towards sustainability.

Following the retreat, we interviewed Dr. Kristen Paglia, CEO of P.S. ARTS, which provides regional coaching at six Turnaround Arts: California partner schools in LA County and beyond: Avenal Elementary (Avenal), Barton Elementary (San Bernardino), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary (Compton), Warren Lane Elementary (Inglewood), Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary (Watts), and Franklin S. Whaley Middle School (Compton).

What is P.S. ARTS, and how did its partnership with Turnaround Arts: California begin?

P.S. ARTS‘ mission is to improve the lives of children by providing arts education to underserved public schools and communities. Since its founding in 1991, P.S. ARTS’ purpose has been to improve children’s chances of success in school and life by providing wrap-around arts education that includes direct instruction to students, teacher training, and community arts events. P.S. ARTS currently provides arts education to over 25,000 K-8th grade students in 60 underserved California public schools annually. P.S. ARTS began its partnership with Turnaround Arts: California in 2015 by providing arts integration training for teachers in some of its first cohort of partner schools across the state. The collaboration has since grown to also include artist residencies and/or family art-making events at six Turnaround Arts: California partner schools throughout Southern and Central California.

Tell us about your role(s) as part of the Turnaround Arts: California Regional Coach Pilot Program.

P.S. ARTS is honored to be working alongside Turnaround Arts: California as a RCPP partner organization supporting schools in applying arts-based strategies to improve school climate and boost student achievement. P.S. ARTS’ scope of work in the RCPP includes training classroom teachers in arts integration and assisting each school’s leadership team in developing a plan to increase access to the arts in school. As collaborators in the Turnaround Arts program’s critical undertaking to improve underperforming schools, we include Turnaround Arts: California partner schools in P.S. ARTS’ funding priorities, and we have been able to provide hundreds of hours of visual arts, dance, and theater instruction to over 500 students in three Turnaround Arts: California partner schools in support of each school’s overall vision for arts education.

What role do you see the arts playing in affecting change in the school communities you are working with this school year?

We know that the arts engage students in learning and provide more ways for them to explore and make sense of the world. We expect that students at Turnaround Arts: California partner schools will demonstrate gains in core academic subjects as a result of integrating the arts into language arts, math, and science. Creating a positive school climate is another major contribution of the arts in schools that can be overlooked but is of profound importance to children’s academic, emotional, and even physical well-being. Infusion of the arts into Turnaround Arts: California partner schools will make schools more vibrant, inclusive, and aspirational. We expect to see more parents involved in their children’s school because of the arts and that students will have more positive attitudes about school and their value to the community. Perhaps most critically, we expect for students to be more civically engaged, kinder, and demonstrate strong leadership qualities as a result of participating in the arts in school.

Are there any events or projects you are particularly excited about this year?

We are very excited about collaborating with P.S. Science — a nonprofit similar to P.S. ARTS, providing science instruction in underserved schools — to provide an integrated science and dance program at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary in Compton. This program, The Art and Science of Teaching, incorporates dance-based strategies for teaching the Next Generation Science Standards and fosters creativity and the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind youth will need to be innovators and contributors in our rapidly changing world.