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Grant sends teachers to summer school

Rosette Gonzales

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,

Sheehy said.

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

they’ve learned.

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,”

Lee said.

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,

Lee said.

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.”