Three Burbank elementary schools are sending four of their teachers
and their principals back to school this week.
Emerson, Jefferson and Bret-Harte Elementary schools are three of
12 schools selected for a $5,000 matching grant from the Music
Center’s Education Division.
Teachers and administrators are attending a five-day summer
institute for educators, which started Tuesday at Dorothy Chandler
Pavilion, to teach them how to design a curriculum to implement the
arts into the classroom.
“I’m very proud that 25% of the grants went to our school,” said
Assistant Superintendent Alexis Sheehy.
The arts and language arts training program is like boot camp for
teachers, said Tommy Lee, assistant to the director of school
programs at the Music Center Education Division. The workshops will
use the poetry of Langston Hughes as what the Music Center calls an
“anchor work,” through which all other arts will be translated.
With that work, teachers can explore other areas of art such as
dance, music, visual arts and theater, Lee said.
“We have a lot to learn,” said Principal Diane Berger of
Bret-Harte Elementary School. “We’ll start with a poem -- talk about
the meaning of a poem. What art is there that would reflect the
theme? How could we take this poem and turn it into a little play and
interpret it theatrically?”
The goals are complementary to Arts for All, a 10-year project the
district is participating in to restore standards-based art
curriculum in the areas of dance, drama, music and visual arts,
The district is in the process of designing a sequential
curriculum that builds on art education from grade to grade.
After teachers and administrators complete their training in
Downtown Los Angeles, they will return to school to implement what
The Music Center Education Division will then send a team to
survey the school and assess its status in arts education.
“It allows us to view the school’s arts program by classroom so we
get a sense of where their strengths and gaps are in the program,”
Mentoring is also a large part of the grant.
Schools will work closely with Music Center staff so that by the
end of the year, a fully structured curriculum will be in place as
taught by the four trained teachers.
The project’s final phase allows students and teachers to
participate in ongoing workshops instructed by Music Center staff.
The small and intimate settings encourage student participation
with artists that benefit them better than watching a performance,
In the past, the Music Center has been active in bringing the arts
to schools through assemblies, but this program is designed to put
the power of the arts in the teachers’ hands, Lee said.
“The whole focus of this package is -- in addition to implementing
an arts program -- to really increase the teacher’s capacity in
teaching the arts,” Lee said. “Instead of just providing services, we
want to work more in depth with schools. We feel it’s a lot more
affective for teachers to gain their capacity to teach arts than to
continue to use outside providers.”