It’s Teaching Artist Appreciation Week!

This week is Teaching Artist Appreciation Week! As a follow-up to our recent Teacher Appreciation Day blog post, we wanted to take this opportunity to feature more of the movers and shakers of P.S. ARTS. Please join us in thanking all of the Teaching Artists who allow our 20,000 students to access their creative potential each week!

Goreti da SilvaGoreti da Silva (Theater)
Santa Monica/Malibu School District, Grades 3-5 and Compton Unified School District, Grades 6-8

Why do you teach?
I teach Theater because it allows me pass on an experience that changed my life. It is a great way to reach all students; those who haven’t had great experiences learning or are shy and those who are outgoing and love taking risks.

Did you have a particularly inspirational teacher that shaped you as an artist or teacher?
Mrs. Vivona, my 7th grade teacher, changed my life by telling my mom I should enroll in Theater classes to help me overcome my shyness. At the time, I was terrified – but, she was right! Theater brought me out of my shell and into the light of possibility, imagination, and joy. I am forever grateful to her and my mom for pushing me into my light.

What is one thing you hope your students leave your class knowing?
Humans are part of one large village, and together we can accomplish anything we can imagine.

seabreezeMichelle Seabreeze (Dance)
Baldwin Hills Elementary School After-School Program

Why do you teach?
Dance is the expression of emotion through movement, and there are so few moments when we have the opportunity to escape our everyday anxieties and just move through our emotions. I believe dance is extremely cathartic.

Did you have a particularly inspirational teacher that shaped you as an artist or teacher?
I had an amazing teacher in college by the name of Cynthia Baldessare. She paid such close attention to each student that we all felt like we were getting special treatment. She listened to our personal stories and acknowledged our backgrounds as she guided us through our process. She made me realize the incredible power teachers have to help us harness our potential and scaffold our dreams.

What is one thing you hope your students leave your class knowing?
They have an infinite potential to create possibilities and paths for themselves in the arts and in life!

Ana CastilloAna Ruth Y. Castillo (Visual Arts and Theater)
LAUSD/Lawndale Elementary School District, Grades 6-8

Why do you teach?
Teaching is an opportunity to help instill imagination and confidence in children. Being a P.S. ARTS Teaching Artist allows me to connect with children in a unique manner. While we practice hands-on skills, I witness their knowledge, their thought processes, their stories, and their growth. At the foundation of the Inside Out Community Arts program is the healing power of art. When children are modeled healthy ways of communicating and expressing their stories, this skill will transcend into their adulthood, their families, and communities. The work we do is powerful.

Did you have a particularly inspirational teacher that shaped you as an artist or teacher?
College was the first time that I was encouraged to tell my story. I was told by my peers, “we must tell our own story because no one else will write it or say it for us.” As a first generation college student this was very profound, and I knew it was time to share who I was. I was inspired by poetry, theater, graffiti art, and music, and I knew that I would make my home among the arts. This is where I live now, and I’m grateful to be able to share the arts with children.

What is one thing you hope your students leave your class knowing?
What they have to say is important and valid, especially the youngest of children because they are so true to who they are. Children don’t lie, so what they express in the arts is a truthful expression of who they are, and truth is a powerful and empowering value to have.

Nicole FisherNicole Fisher (Visual Arts)
Santa Monica/Malibu School District, Grades 3-5

Why do you teach?
There is an artist in ALL of us. It is just about finding the thing that lights the spark, and that is different for each of us.

Did you have a particularly inspirational teacher that shaped you as an artist or teacher?
I had the amazing opportunity to spend time with Beatrice Woods. She taught me that life can take you on many winding roads, both conventional and unconventional. Stay true to who you are, but do not be afraid to take risks.

What is one thing you hope your students leave your class knowing?
They have value, and what they have to say is important. My goal is to encourage and inspire them to communicate creatively in their own unique voice. Finally, kindness and compassion will take you great places.

Martinez, LonnieLonnie Martinez (Visual Arts)
Santa Monica/Malibu School District, Grades TK-5

Why do you teach?
I was teaching art and music to kids even when I was a kid! I love to share – always have. When I was young I didn’t understand why I couldn’t give everyone I knew a present for Christmas. Then I realized writing a poem or song or painting a picture for someone was a way to give a gift and I didn’t need any money to do it. I didn’t set out to be an art or music teacher, it’s the path I ended up on by following what I love most: music, art, written words, and humans –  especially the little ones!

Joleen, Emma IDEmma Joleen (Music)
Santa Monica/Malibu School District, Grades TK-2

Why do you teach?
I teach to learn. I’m a lifelong learner and children are the future. When I’m old and grey, the children will take care of the planet with joyful song and play. It is because of the children that I teach.

Did you have a particularly inspirational teacher that shaped you as an artist or teacher?
Yes, my parents both played musical instruments, and they loved to sing and dance. My high school music teacher was my most nurturing and inspirational teacher; I still admire her patience, grace, and courage. I feel as though the values I learned from my music education have carried me through a melodious journey along the music staff of life.

What is one thing you hope your students leave your class knowing?
“Life is a song, love is the music! “

Lowe, Heather IDHeather Lowe (Visual Arts)
Santa Monica/Malibu School District, Grades TK-5

Why do you teach?
I teach because I love to teach. There is not a day that goes by in which teaching does not inspire me or help me to learn more about art. I believe teaching is a two way street; we, as teachers and students, discover the mysteries of art together. When we listen to one another, we learn to see things anew. Creating a rich environment of trust and invention makes us happier human beings. Although I am connected to all the art disciplines, visual art is my main strength in art; it is my language. We are always students – always learning.

Did you have a particularly inspirational teacher that shaped you as an artist or teacher?
When I studied etching at Santa Monica College, there was an art teacher by the name of Baratucci. He taught me so many wonderful techniques, and my love for printmaking really blossomed under his guidance. I remember he once said, “You don’t have a printing press? Go get some wooden boards and use your car!”

An art teacher from UCLA taught me how to make perfect circles in the sand by taking a trip to the beach, learning how to listen to nature and how to focus on the creative spirit. Charles Garabedian taught me how to draw by observing with both my eyes and my imagination. Mr. Cheng taught me how to use the Chinese brush and ink by painting bamboo for hours. There are so many others!

What is one thing you hope your students leave your class knowing?
I hope that my students understand the value of art in their life and in their world. I hope they know that art can thrive when all else fails in their life. I hope they find that special skill that will help them communicate their deepest feelings and thoughts.

Muratalla, Juan IDJuan Muratalla (Visual Arts)
Camino Nuevo Charter Academy (Sandra Cisneros Campus), Grades K-8

Why do you teach?
I love to teach! I teach so I don’t forget. I teach to make a difference. I teach because I believe. I teach visual arts because it’s what fuels the essence of my life.

Did you have a particularly inspirational teacher that shaped you as an artist or teacher?
I have had great people around me, but the first teacher that inspired me to believe in myself was John. I still remember his wrinkled skin and his tired eyes that projected love to everyone around him. John worked at a church that provided arts and sports for the youth, and he exposed me to a world that I had no idea existed. A world of color. A world that made me think. A world that brought a smile to my face. A world where I felt safe. A world where I felt free to imagine and create anything – even if it made no sense, to John it was a masterpiece. He shaped me into the person that I am today. A person that wants to make a difference. A person that hopes to inspire and give others the chance to believe.

What is one thing you hope your students leave your class knowing?
They can create their own space in the world through art.

Magic Moments from the Annual Youth Camping & Rehearsal Retreat!

Lauren Deck, Senior Program Coordinator

BY Lauren DECK, Senior program manageR

Middle school students from P.S. ARTS’ after-school theater program, Inside Out Community Arts (IOCA), recently returned from a three-day overnight camping and rehearsal retreat in the Santa Monica Mountains.


IOCA’s camping retreat was designed with two key goals in mind: to provide focused time outside of the 18-week after-school program for students to continue creating and rehearsing their original plays and to get students out of their usual city environments and its challenges. Year after year, I have witnessed how this immersion in a neutral and natural setting often provides students with the structure and safety needed to be more creative, successful team members in their play-creation process and to make new friends more easily.

When 70 middle school students from three Los Angeles area schools arrived at camp, they were greeted by cheering camp staff, youth leaders, cabins nestled under a Sycamore tree canopy and Camp Agreements that began,

“We’re here to work and play together, as a community of artists and friends!”

This was the 10th camping event that I have co-planned with the programs team since 2008. Over the years I have noticed many visible transformations in both middle school participants and the high school and college age program alumni who return to help run camp.  This year’s retreat was no exception, and I am pleased to share several highlights with you!

2. Ampitheater_Whaley

Middle School Student Magic Moments! 

Jannya is a middle school student who returned after participating in the program last year.  During a star hike at camp last year, she exhibited behavior issues.  Since then, a big change has occurred.  The four Artist Leaders at Jannya’s school reported that she has really stepped up this year; she is involved in leadership groups and has demonstrated new skills among her peers during the IOCA workshops. Her new motivation became apparent to me at this year’s camp when she requested to lead the very star hike that she disrupted last year. On the first night of camp, I joined a group of students and Artist Leaders, and we trekked up a winding dirt path with Jannya at the lead. We came to a point where countless stars and constellations could be viewed. For many of the campers, this was their first experience away from city light pollution where they could gaze at the starlit sky.

Jannya took her role seriously and led her peers in a thoughtful star naming activity, where they dedicated stars up above to someone in their life. We listened quietly as young voices spoke out in the darkness to dedicate a star to a recently passed loved one, a special family member, a pet, a friend, someone who actively supports their goals and dreams, among many other heartfelt mentions of what is important in their lives.

Another highlight of the star hike was walking up the hill with a visually impaired student David. He felt his way on the unsteady gravel pathway, using his cane and a teacher’s arm for support.  During the walk up I overhead David comment excitedly to his teacher, “My mother will be so happy to hear that I climbed up a steep mountain!”

4. Katrina-Irving

Katrina is an 8th grade student in her third year in the IOCA program.  She plans to join the Alumni Mentor program next year when she goes to high school to continue her leadership and artistic development. This year at camp she showcased her musical talent by singing and playing her acoustic guitar at the talent show. Katrina and her cast mates co-wrote wrote an original song for their play about gender equality. The song, called Breaking Through, speaks to the need for equality among all people regardless of gender. Katrina has a line in the song where the chorus continues while she steps up to the microphone and states something personal: 

My passion is coding for websites and it’s sad to know that my passion might be blocked just because I’m a woman while males get the opportunity to express their passion in the world of technology.

One of Katrina’s cast mates adds this line:

I was told that crying was not for men, just for girls. If you show emotion then you’re weaker than others. I personally think that’s wrong and that we’re all human; we all show emotion and we all cry.

Another student summarizes the play’s message: 

At the end of the day, we’re trying to break through to be equal, whatever gender you are. That’s just how you were born or how you choose to live your life. Nobody can judge you (us). That’s just how you (we) are.

Justin is a 7th grade student who discovered a new talent at camp as a student photographer.  One of the Artist Leaders at his school commented,

Justin was very nervous about camp. He was new to IOCA this year and had missed several workshops, so he didn’t have the time to really bond with his cast like the other students did. I saw ENORMOUS progress from Justin during camp. He was open, friendly, and had the chance to shine behind the scenes as a student photographer. I believe he found a home with Inside Out and will follow suit to join the Alumni Mentor program along with a new friend he made who already turned her Mentor application in the week after camp!

Justin shined as a student photographer during a group set painting activity when students were coached and allowed to use professional cameras to help staff document the event. He was repeatedly swarmed with students who wanted to pose for his pictures and he made a concentrated effort to experiment with multiple angles. After each photo, students would crowd around Justin to review the pictures and he was grinning largely each time he showed off his artistic work!

Alumni Magic Moments!

IOCA camping events feature young adult leaders, now in their late teens through mid-twenties, who participated in IOCA back when they were middle school students. Special recognition goes out to these former program participants who now play key roles at camp: Patty Duran, Alumni Mentor Coordinator and Camp Leadership Staff Member, Brandon Tillis, Camp Team Leader, and Louis Viera, Camp Team Member.

6a. MentorCourtPic

Leadership positions are also provided to high school students who have exhibited exceptional leadership qualities. Congratulations to this year’s Camp Youth Leadership team that featured three high school seniors who will be off to college in the fall: Jessica R. (CSU Northridge), Jose M. (CSU Northridge), and Sally H. (California Lutheran University)!


This year, two Alumni Mentors, Jose and Kevin, co-wrote lyrics and music to the very first original IOCA camp song!  They’ve kindly allowed me to share their first improvised version with you before it’s finished. Click HERE to listen to the inspiring, heartfelt, and fun song. P.S. ARTS staff members have been playing it in the office over the last few weeks when we need a momentary distraction from our to-do lists, to remind us how fortunate we are to provide programs for young artists!

What’s up next?

All of the IOCA campers are now back in the city at their respective middle schools – Whaley in Compton, Adams in South LA, and Irving in Glassell Park – adding the final touches to their short plays.

You are invited to join our audience this Saturday, May 16th at 7pm in downtown Los Angeles to witness their creative and courageous work on a professional stage.  Seats are free of charge and do not require a ticket. We look forward to seeing you there!


From the bottom of our artist heARTS, a big thanks to everyone who supported IOCA’s 2015 camping retreat, with special high fives going out to:

  • Every IOCA student who came to camp this year and their family members who helped make it possible
  • Spring 2015 Artist Leaders and Production Artists for their dedication, leadership, wisdom, creativity and talent
  • School staff members who provided program workshop space, school buses, and many hours of teacher support
  • Co-founder Camille Ameen for providing artistic direction to playgroups and annual leadership of the Mentor Council
  • Mentor program coordinators Lora Cawelti and Patty Duran, and the whole team of Alumni Mentors
  • DJ TNT James Davis for rockin’ yet another IOCA dance party
  • Musician David Cowan who led his first IOCA campfire drumming activity this year
  • Student Photographers: Juan P. Galvin O., Nathan P., Jesse P., Justin A., Justin P., Jair Q., Sharrod E., Merari H., Emmanuel A.
  • Student Photographer leader Jennifer Browne
  • Volunteer Camp Nurse Pamela Parker
  • A multitude of generous funders, partners, businesses, and individuals, too lengthy of a list to include here, who provide monetary contributions and free or discounted goods and services that make this all possible for the IOCA students

Happy Teacher Appreciation Day!

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Day, we’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our faculty of 80 professional artist educators. They are truly the heart and soul of this organization, working tirelessly to ensure that our 20,000 students receive the high-quality arts education that they deserve. We asked a few of our Teaching Artists to share why they teach and if they had a teacher who inspired their paths as artists and educators. Here’s what they had to say. . . .

472795_10150713500967697_885695008_oAiko Anglim (Music)
Lawndale Elementary School District, Grades K-5

Why do you teach?
I teach because I love learning! My students teach me as much as I teach them. I am a music educator because music makes me feel alive, and I can’t imagine doing anything else!

Did you have a particularly inspirational teacher that shaped you as an artist or teacher?
My high school choir director, Tim Bruneau, shaped me not only as an artist but also as a person. He saw my musician’s soul before I found it myself, and he helped nurture it. With his guidance, I was able to find my calling. Tim is my ultimate mentor; I wouldn’t be the person I am today without him!

What is one thing you hope your students leave your class knowing?
I hope my students leave my class knowing that they all have the ultimate superpower of making music!

15471734415_a304738009_oDavid Partida (Visual Arts/Music)
Camino Nuevo Charter Academy (Burlington Campus), Grades K-8

Why do you teach?
I first became an elementary school teacher as a way to improve my community, but when I started teaching art I fell in love with nuturing eager, ready-to-create minds. My students’ smiles remind me everyday why I’ve come to love teaching the arts in particular. In reality, I would teach any discipline so long as imaginative minds are at work. Art is medicine and we as a human race are in need of this magical medicine.

Did you have a particularly inspirational teacher that shaped you as an artist or teacher?
A teacher who really influenced me was my writing professor during my undergrad in San Francisco. Mr. Murgia didn’t challenge me or push my limits. He simply made me see the world with a different lens, appreciate and praise the little things in life and be thankful. I’ve looked at the world like this ever since, and it has helped shape me into the person I am today.

What is one thing you hope your students leave your class knowing?
I hope my students use the arts as a vehicle to learn anything and everything they can imagine!

Jaime Costume CabinJaime Reichner (Theater)
Irving Middle School, Grades 6-8

Why do you teach?
I truly believe in the power of art, and theater specifically, as a catalyst for students’ personal growth and collectively as a tool to create real social change.  What I love about teaching in middle school is how accessible theater-making can be — everyone has a story to tell. As Artist Leaders, part of our job is to create the space for students to explore these stories and offer them techniques to connect to one another and their communities through the artistry of theater. Bearing witness to the transformations many of our students experience over the course of our sessions is what continues to inspire me.

Did you have a particularly inspirational teacher that shaped you as an artist or teacher?
I was lucky enough to attend performing arts schools from fifth grade through high school and was inspired and encouraged by so many teachers along the way. When I was in fourth grade, I was an overactive, emotional, and disruptive student and found myself in the principal’s office on more than one occasion.  My teacher at the time, Marie Angulo, saw through my problem behavior and suggested to my parents that they look into theater programs.  Convinced I would thrive in a more creative and engaged environment, she found a magnet program that ended up suiting me perfectly, igniting a lifelong passion for theater.  I often think about Mrs. Angulo’s ability to see the whole student and the power of having a teacher in our corner who believes in our unlimited potential.

What is one thing you hope your students leave your class knowing?
Each Inside Out Community Arts program culminates with a performance of original work by the students.  Come show day, my ultimate goal is that the students feel good about themselves and are proud of their work – both onstage and off. I hope my students take away the confidence that comes with taking safe risks and learning to share their voices (both literally and figuratively).

DSC_0013Miriam Alba Romano (Visual Arts)
Wasco Union School District, Grades 3-8

Why do you teach?
I teach from the understanding that all students are important and valuable and should be treated accordingly. Children are natural artists; I learn just as much from my students as they do from me!

Did you have a particularly inspirational teacher that shaped you as an artist or teacher?
During my tenure as a P.S.ARTS Teaching Artist, I’ve worked with 66 teachers in the Wasco Union School District. Each of them have and continue to support a very rich arts-learning experience. The classroom teachers I’ve partnered with through P.S. ARTS’ in-school programs have shaped me as an artist and Teaching Artist.

What is one thing you hope your students leave your class knowing?
Respect for themselves and for each other. Respect is the rich soil in which art can grow.

Sanchez, NathalieIDNathalie Sánchez (Visual Arts)
Camino Nuevo Charter Academy (Jose A. Castellanos & Jane B. Eisner Campuses), Grades K-8

Why do you teach?
I teach my passion: art! I love to develop a visual arts curriculum that includes diverse mediums and local artists. I have the privilege of teaching art to young thinkers and learners; I watch them experience the creative process, develop a language to speak about art, and courageously exercise their creativity in each and every class.

Did you have a particularly inspirational teacher that shaped you as an artist or teacher?
My high school teacher, Ms. Parker, was the first teacher who inspired me to create and appreciate art. Ms. Parker was not only my art history teacher, but also my art club advisor and academic decathlon coach. She exposed me to a world of art through her A.P. Art History class and museum field trips. Because of her, I pursued the arts and arts education. I only hope that I can inspire my students as she inspired me.

What is one thing you hope your students leave your class knowing?
My students are amazing artists who enjoy creating art in and out of the classroom. They are a part of history, just like the artists we learn about in class. Maybe one day my student’s work will be in an exhibition or in an art history book — maybe their work will be the masterwork I base a lesson on that will be taught to other student artists!

Five Lessons from Confluence 2015

At P.S. ARTS, we are well aware that no matter how fantastic our programs are, our reach is limited by our resources. Yes, we’re proud to serve 20,000 students each week, and it seems like a large number until you consider the fact that there are 9.1 million children in California. If we ever hope to truly make an impact on the way our children are educated, we have to advocate for change at a local, state and federal level.
10982242_10206567865418483_2086880744588659954_nIn recognition of the importance that advocacy and field-level cohesion play in influencing external systems, I recently left our cozy Venice offices and travelled to Sacramento to represent P.S. ARTS at Confluence 2015. Hosted by Californians for the Arts and held at the California State Capitol, Confluence is a statewide convening of arts organizations. It provides an opportunity for arts colleagues to learn from each other, hear about trends in the field, forge partnerships and advocate for the arts.

1. Data is good. Data + Passion is better.
Confluence opened with a Joint Committee on the Arts (chaired by Senator Ben Allen-District 26) hearing on the results of the 2014 Otis Report on the Creative Economy of California. The report’s message is that the arts play a vital role in California’s economy. Witnesses from the public, private and nonprofit sectors testified and spoke eloquently about the fact that without support for the arts and arts education, the talent pool in California will likely diminish. We were there to talk about the hard data and the economic benefits of the creative industries, but nearly every witness, from designers to engineers, spoke passionately about the ways they were profoundly affected by their own experiences in the arts. The Committee responded in kind, often sharing their own arts experiences.

2. Sure! But…
The Los Angeles delegation spent the afternoon making office visits to our legislators and advocating for a budget of $10 million for California’s state arts agency, the California Arts Council. While all legislators we visited were receptive to the request, we often heard that the arts cannot rely on state funding alone as it is a highly volatile source of support. We were encouraged to create private-nonprofit partnerships for revenue. Which reminds me, does anyone have a contact at Gatorade/Google/Nike?

3. Family/community trumps economy, every time.
Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group surveyed over 2,000 people across the U.S. and found that when it comes to building public will for the arts, people from all ethnicities, social-economic backgrounds, ages and geographic areas value the arts because they provide opportunities to connect with other people, thereby increasing quality of life — and not by just a little bit. Connection and community far outranked all other categories. WHAT!?! People over money! I’m proud of you, America.

4. Sustainability is not a goal! 
Okay, so that was a trick title. The whole sentence should be, “Sustainability is not a goal. It’s a state of mind, requiring constant reinvention and flexibility” according to Joel Slayton of ZERO1.  Sustainability has become the holy grail for nonprofits, with very little direction on how to actually get there. I think it’s really important for nonprofits and funders to hear that sustainability isn’t a magic wand that fixes all ills. We’re never going to get to stand on a rooftop and shout, “WE HAVE ACHIEVED SUSTAINABILITY. CHECK THAT OFF MY LIST!” Like marriage, ideal body weight, and Lady Gaga, sustainability requires maintenance and the ability to recognize when it’s time to change something.

5. Talk to people in the buffet line.
While I waited for my cheese and tapas, I struck up a conversation with a woman in front of me about how challenging it is for P.S. ARTS to recruit teachers in a particular tiny Central California town since our offices are located hundreds of miles away. As luck would have it, she ran a festival in that little town and knew practically every teaching artist in the area. I’ve initiated partnerships, made appointments with funders, solicited donations and recruited volunteers in buffet lines. They don’t tell you this management school, but the best networking happens while you’re holding an empty plate.

It was an eventful, illuminating, whirlwind of two days and a fantastic experience. Thank you to all the hard working people at the California Arts Council and Californians for the Arts for arranging a wonderful event. And a very special thank you to the many colleagues who co-prowled the halls of the Capitol Building, shared knowledge, dined and advocated with me. It’s a privilege to share a field with you!

Thank you P.S. ARTS Volunteers!

April is National Volunteer Month! To celebrate, we asked a handful of our stellar volunteers to share what volunteerism means to them and a “Magic Moment” they’ve experienced while working with P.S. ARTS.

Josh Tanzer VolunteerJosh Tanzer, P.S. ARTS Board of Trustees Chairperson

Volunteering is about doing what should be or needs to be done in our community.  My attitude is if not me, then who?  We should all volunteer.  In addition to P.S. ARTS, I have volunteered for the US Peace Corps and Big Brothers; all three have been multi-year volunteerships.

P.S. ARTS provides a service to parents and their children that they would not otherwise have the opportunity to benefit from: arts education. Arts education has many benefits, but what motivates me personally, is that it enhances a child’s learning experience by developing their problem solving capabilities and collaboration skills. These are two areas that are very important not just to do well in school, but to be happy and productive citizens in our community post formal education. P.S. ARTS currently serves over 20,000 kids each week — that is really something! I dedicate my time to P.S. ARTS because their programs help provide the foundation for future success for the students they serve.

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 presetNancy Downer, Wiseburn School District “Art Angel”

As an “Art Angel” in P.S. ARTS Teaching Artist Tiffany Graham’s class, I walk around the room, watching for what might be needed: a new pencil, encouragement to begin, a different color chalk pastel. I listen to the guidance Ms. Graham offers and actively reinforce her instruction. I look for opportunities to offer positive remarks on the work and the efforts made. Ms. Graham might ask me to prepare materials to be used later that day or for future lessons. I’m ready to do those things that take organizing time, leaving Ms. Graham free and available to share her expertise with the class.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetI look forward to the day each week that I get to help in the art experience. It delights me to see children learn about important artists and, in particular, to experience themselves as artists. The moment that feels exceptional is when I hold up a child’s art, at a distance, for the rest of the students to see and the eyes smile back in surprised delight.

laura fox volunteerLaura Fox, P.S. ARTS Board of Trustees Co-Vice Chairperson

Being on the Board of Trustees is a great way to support P.S. ARTS on a strategic level. However, the downside of being on any board is that often your experience with the actual work of the organization is second-hand. At each of our board meetings, a P.S. ARTS staff member will share a “Magic Moment” — a story about a success or accomplishment of a student — which is always followed by a brief period of surreptitious eye-wiping.  It’s great because it helps us all remember why we are sitting in the room. Still, it’s not the same as being there. So, on a recent Saturday, I took one of my kids and volunteered at the Inclusive Arts Day at Grand View Blvd. Elementary School. We got assigned the task of assembling and helping kids paint about forty craft birdhouses!

Although the original idea was that the kids would paint Mondrian-style birdhouses, it soon became clear that they each had their own creative ideas. Watching each child become completely engaged in creating a fantastic original design was a great reminder of why the work that P.S. ARTS does, bringing that level of engagement to the classroom, is really important. At some point, hopefully before the next board meeting, I’ll get the green paint out from under my fingernails!

Teaching Artist David Partida’s children Quilatlzi (8) and Malinali (12), Family Art Night volunteers

Quilatlzi: “I volunteer for P.S. ARTS because it’s fun and entertaining. I remember passing out materials to different families. It makes me feel special”.

Malinali: “I volunteer for P.S. ARTS because I like helping people. I like it when they say thank you. My favorite part of Family Art Nights is the raffle because everyone gets so excited!”

partida vol

We are so grateful for the hard work and commitment of our volunteers! If you are interested in becoming a P.S. ARTS volunteer, we could always use a helping hand in our classrooms or at one of our events.  Visit our Eventbrite page for upcoming volunteer opportunities!

Inclusive Arts Day at Grand View Blvd. Elementary!

Stephanie Kistner, Senior Program Coordinator


On Saturday, April 11th, 2015, P.S. ARTS hosted its first ever Inclusive Arts Day at Grand View Blvd. Elementary!

In 2013, P.S. ARTS, in partnership with LAUSD and the Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation, launched an inclusive music and visual arts program at Grand View Elementary. Since then, P.S. ARTS has been providing weekly in-school music and visual arts classes to all students at Grand View Elementary, including students with moderate to severe special needs, in an inclusive classroom environment.

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The Inclusive Arts Day celebrated the hard work of school administrators, classroom teachers, P.S. ARTS Teaching Artists, and most importantly, the hard work of all the Grand View students themselves in making this program a success!

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The growth of students who participate in these inclusive arts education classes, both typically developing and students with disabilities, has been moving to witness. Three years ago it wouldn’t have possible for many of these students to interact with one another, and today, they now learn alongside each other and consider themselves peers, and friends.

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Thanks to this program we’ve seen students take on new leadership roles, exhibit increased empathy, build skills in both music and visual arts, and express themselves freely and creatively in an environment that supports learning for everyone.

“Helping every child achieve his or her fullest potential is something we strongly believe in at P.S. ARTS, and we are honored to be part of this pivotal moment in history for educational equity.”  - P.S. ARTS CEO, Dr. Kristen Paglia

The Event!

Free for all who attended, P.S. ARTS Teaching Artists, volunteers, and staff, led families in hands-on art activities that encouraged parents and children to work together creatively. Some of the fun and educational projects included: Monet Watercolor Resist Bridge Paintings, Model Magic Creatures designed in the style of American artist Wayne White, Japanese Koinobori Windsocks flown in celebration of the upcoming Children’s Day on May 5th, birdhouses colored in the manner of Mondrian, a station featuring Zot Artz Adaptive Art Supplies and a tile mural with Teaching Artist Tamie Smith based on P.S. ARTS’ 2014-2015 theme, “Building Bridges, Breaking Barriers.”

“It is truly important to me, as a P.S. ARTS Teaching Artist, that the learning needs of all my students are met. It is powerful to walk into my inclusive arts classes and see students that are generally separated from each other, working together as peers and friends. Beyond the creative and critical thinking skills developed in the arts classroom, I think there is tremendous value in teaching students to work collaboratively and respectfully in an integrated learning environment. P.S. ARTS creates space for compassionate learners, artists, and citizens.”

- P.S. ARTS Teaching Artist, Tamie Smith

We would like to extend a huge thank you to all of the students, families, classroom teachers, P.S. ARTS Teaching Artists and P.S. ARTS Staff who came out to participate and help us celebrate inclusive arts education!

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For additional event photos, please visit our Flickr album!