Last month, approximately 70 representatives from our 16 California partner schools attended the annual Turnaround Arts Summer Leadership Retreat at Airlie, a historic conference destination in Virginia, about an hour away from Washington, D.C.

This weeklong retreat was a chance to orient our new school teams to the pillars of our program, create space for collaboration among new/veteran participants and presenters, and connect deeply with the dedicated team of “Turnarounders” from across the nation championing our collective mission to transform priority schools through the strategic use of the arts.

During the breakout sessions, teams from California’s Avenal, Barton, Fremont/Lopez, and Meadow Homes elementary schools highlighted successful projects they’ve developed at their individual sites including, Monster Mash-Up: Exploring Shapes and Counting Through Visual Arts and Movement, Portrait Gallery Night, and more!

After the retreat, a few principals from our presenting schools shared some highlights from this year’s convening:

Joseph Martinez, Principal of Fremont/Lopez Elementary, found the “Nature of Change in Schools” and “Making Learning Visible” sessions to be particularly engaging; in an era of standards and accountability, it is too easy for deep learning and exploration to go by the wayside in favor of “correct” answers — luckily, arts education and integration work to shift this paradigm.

Janice Gordon-Ellis, Principal of Barton Elementary, is looking forward to utilizing the plethora of rich resources she was introduced to at the retreat with her team during the coming school year.

Sandra Wilbanks, Principal of Meadow Homes Elementary, left the retreat recharged and ready to work through challenges that continue to face her school with the mindset that “the only way around the problem is through it!”

Blanca Price, Principal of Avenal Elementary, tugged on our heart strings when she reminded us that “the work we are doing for our children is worth it, and WE ARE NOT ALONE!”

We are so lucky to call these thoughtful leaders part of our Turnaround Arts: California family, and we are so grateful to the team at Turnaround Arts: National for, once again, curating an engaging week of learning in and through the arts.

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