by Arts for All | Dec 12, 2013

    In Montebello Unified, a school district with a predominately Latino population, students often say their first complete English sentences after learning dance.

    Montebello has partnered with arts provider Bluepalm for five years, and Bluepalm’s fun non-threatening approach to language acquisition is a natural fit with the district’s needs. Since the partnership began, more than 3,000 kindergarten students have strengthened their skills and confidence in English Language Arts.

    According to Montebello USD Arts Coordinator Leonard Narumi, classroom teachers repeatedly praise Bluepalm’s multi-arts based approach to improving English learners’ oral language skills.

    The Bluepalm partnership with Montebello USD is funded in part by Arts for All’s Residency Grant Program and has been designed to support the district’s long-term objectives. Bluepalm’s alignment of classroom instruction with larger goals outlined in the district’s arts education policy and associated strategic plan has been a key factor in developing and sustaining the program.

    Since its first year, the program has expanded beyond dance to include theater and visual arts. Students are not the only beneficiaries in the partnership. Professional development for teachers and a parent engagement program allows adults to explore their role in learning - or instructing - language arts. 

    “The whole community is able to train, gain skills, insights and become arts advocates in the process,” says Bluepalm’s Co-Artistic Director Tom Crocker. 

    Bluepalm’s Co-Artistic Director Jackie Planeix adds, “We strive to build parent understanding – through inter-active participation – of why learning through the arts is an ideal preparation for their children's success in the 21st century. But the mothers are also able to experience a liberating array of movements, emotional attitudes and role playing. They are a joy to behold!”

    As successful as this program has been, both district and Bluepalm leaders know that arts education for only kindergarteners is not enough. The program is moving into first grade this year, allowing greater professional and artistic connections to be made between K-1 staff. Plus, students will benefit from a second year of active learning through the arts.

    Photo: Kindergarten student and teaching artist from Bluepalm at Cesar Chavez Elementary School in Montebellow Unified School District by Gary Leonard


    by Arts for All | Sep 19, 2013

    Arts for All works to ensure that every student is exposed to a rich arts education as part of the core curriculum in LA County's public schools.  The Residency Grant Program is a key strategy in accomplishing this.  The program is designed to support individual school district implementation of arts education plans, improve quality teaching and learning, and nurture partnerships between districts and Los Angeles’ vibrant arts community.

    A great example of the relationship between stakeholders is Montebello Unified School District (MUSD) and Bluepalm, a high quality arts education provider. “Our long-term partnership with MUSD has proved to be very successful,” says Jackie Planeix, Co-Director of Bluepalm.  “By actively engaging teachers, students, and parents – the partnership has been effective in building language skills through the arts within predominantly non-English speaking community.”

    The National Endowment for the Arts has provided funding for the program since it launched in 2006-07. Additional funding partners have since joined to increase the number and size of the grant awards.  The Dwight Stuart Youth Fund, The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation and LA County’s Productivity Investment Fund also now underwrite residency grants.

    Participating classroom teachers confirmed a high level of rigor in the program: 

    • 92% of respondents reported that students frequently or consistently learned and used the vocabulary of the art form being taught.

    • 75% reported that the residency frequently or consistently allowed students to apply artistic process and skills to create original works of art.

    • 72% reported that students frequently or consistently analyzed, assessed and derived meaning from works of art, including their own, and/or they applied what they learned across other subject areas.

    The program continues this year with matching grants totaling $144,000 distributed to 16 school districts for delivery of arts instruction by 13 arts education providers serving 412 classrooms and reaching almost 13,000 students. These districts selected residences from Arts for All’s online directory of Programs for Students to dovetail with their individual arts education plans. Grant awards for the 2013-14 school year include: 

     Burbank USD    24th Street Theater and The Music Center
     Culver City USD  Symphonic Jazz Orchestra
     Glendale USD  Southwest Chamber Music
     Las Virgenes USD  Visual artist Cindy Iles-Nelson
     Lawndale USD  P.S. Arts
     Manhattan Beach USD  The Music Center
     Montebello USD  Bluepalm
     Norwalk- La Mirada USD  Nigerian Talking Drum Ensemble
     Paramount USD  Visual artist Robin Kiss
     Pasadena USD  Aman Dance Educators
       Armory Center for the Arts
       Education through Music
       Lineage Dance
     Redondo Beach USD  The Music Center
     Rosemead USD  Armory Center for the Arts
     Saugus Union SD  Aman Dance Educators

     PHOTO: Gary Leonard


    by Arts for All | Sep 19, 2013

    Renaissance man Herb Alpert is at the top of his game. The musician, visual artist and arts education champion was awarded the 2012 National Medal of Arts by President Obama this past July for his varied contributions to music and the fine arts.

    Alpert’s lifelong passion for music began in elementary school. "When I was 8 years old, I went into a music appreciation classroom and picked up a trumpet. I never put it down... and my life was never the same,” he said in a Huffington Post interview.

    Today, the Herb Alpert Foundation supports many arts education efforts, including Arts for All. They have participated in the Pooled Fund since 2010. “By investing in a countywide initiative that engages diverse funders, education experts, community leaders, parents, teachers, and most importantly students, it not only serves to strengthen each of our individual efforts but also allows each of us to feel connected through a shared vision and proves that we are better together,” says Herb Alpert Foundation President Rona Sebastian.

    Herb Alpert and his wife, Lani Hall, were interested in identifying a school district in LA County in which they could pilot an arts education program, providing resources to ensure all students at every grade level had access.  The ultimate goal was that the district itself would play a key role in ensuring the sustainability of the program. In 2005, they chose Lawndale Elementary School District in the South Bay.

    In early 2011, the foundation began working with P.S. ARTS and Arts for All to convene stakeholders in arts education in the South Bay, which later became known as Take PART (Public Arts Regional Team), as a way of leveraging resources in the region and providing more arts opportunities for children.

    Foundation leaders say that Take PART allows children from neighboring districts, many of whom will be attending high school together, to get to know one another. Lawndale and other Take PART elementary school districts - Hawthorne, Lennox, and Wiseburn all feed into new Arts for All partner district Centinela Valley, which is the high school district for the region. 

    “Our hope in fostering collaboration across the region is that it will create a pipeline of services and arts experiences for children from kindergarten through 12th grade,” concludes Sebastian.

    The Herb Alpert Foundation envisions a world where all young people have opportunities that allow them to reach their potential to lead productive and fulfilling lives. It is their hope, that another child picks up a trumpet and never lets go.

    PHOTO: Philipp Scholz Rittermann


    by Arts for All | Sep 19, 2013
    1-800-air plant. That’s not the phone number from an infomercial pitching peculiar plants. It’s from a tri-lingual (English, Spanish and Korean) lesson on flora, framed as a television commercial that was developed by teachers from Pasadena Unified School District.
    The lesson was created and presented as part of the three-day institute on Project-Based Learning, Arts Integration and the new Common Core State Standards that took place this summer. The institute was sponsored by The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, and was developed collaboratively by the Pasadena Educational Foundation, Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) and Huntington Library.  For three days, 100 teachers and 20 community arts partners experienced project-based learning, analyzed the new common core standards and connected music, theater, dance and visual arts with other subjects.

    PUSD is not the only Arts for All district providing opportunities for educators to deepen their arts education knowledge. With districts now rolling out the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), district leaders see the benefits of arts education as a means to develop critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity in students and support the objectives of CCSS. During the last six months, numerous districts and arts organizations have offered intensive professional development in the arts, building the capacity of hundreds of educators to provide learning in a specific art form, as well as integrated arts instruction to their students. 

    We would like to acknowledge arts providers Armory Center for the Arts, Arts Center College of Design, California Arts Project, Inner City Arts, The Getty Center, The Music Center, Dramatic Results, 24th Street Theater for providing professional development services to school districts. Additionally, these school districts are in their second year of a three-year Arts for All grant program to plan and implement professional development in the arts for their educators:  Beverly Hills, Burbank, East Whittier, Glendale, Hawthorne, Hermosa Beach, Inglewood, Las Virgenes, Los Nietos, Manhattan Beach, Pomona, Rosemead and Whittier Union. Bravo!