1. In what ways, if any, have the arts and creative learning impacted you - in your career, school, or life experiences?
The arts, including music, visual art, theater, dance, poetry, and literature, greatly enhance the quality of my personal life. I am more of a consumer of the arts than a creator, with a passion for concerts, museums, and recorded music, but band was an important part of my public school experience. (I played saxophone in the concert band, jazz band, and marching band.) Watching my own children perform in choir, band, and theater or create art at home took my appreciation to a whole new level. Music helped me to learn Spanish, and now my whole family knows the bilingual songs of José Luis Orozco. Although I was an amateur musician, I brought a guitar to school and sang with my sixth grade students. As a principal and district administrator, I fully supported the arts and creative learning, including supporting art and music teachers, extracurricular opportunities for students, and professional performances for our students.
2. What value, if any, do you think the arts and the Creative Learning Initiative have for students and teachers in Austin ISD schools? (e.g. student engagement, academic achievement and preparing students for college, career, life and the 21st century workforce)
The arts are an essential component of a complete education, worth learning to create and appreciate for their own sake. In addition, the arts can support multiple pathways for students to access other curriculum areas, including speaking, reading, math, science, and social studies. Furthermore, arts classes and extracurricular activities help many students to enjoy school and develop authentic relationships, and sometimes provide a safe environment for students to be themselves. Creative Learning Initiative has been providing support for arts integration in AISD for years, and I have witnessed wonderful examples of how this strengthens instruction, motivates students, helps differentiate instruction, and makes learning more fun.
3. In what ways, if any, will the Visual and Performing Arts and the Creative Learning Initiative be a part of your priorities as a school board trustee?
As an AISD Board Trustee, I will support the Visual and Performing Arts as an integral part of the curriculum and advocate for investments and other support for the Creative Learning Initiative to strengthen instruction and improve student educational outcomes. As soon as possible upon joining the Board, I will join with a majority of fellow trustees to require that the Superintendent provide concrete, specific, and accurate data regarding the impact of the recent changes to essential areas and to adjust the plan as needed based on that data. I will also propose changes in policy and the Superintendent’s evaluation process to ensure that future decisions that significantly impact students, teachers, and programs are made collaboratively and transparently.
4. What would a visual and performing arts program that values diversity and is committed to inclusion look like to you?
The quantity and quality of visual and performing arts programs should be consistent across schools so that all students have access. That said, there is a benefit to having some schools of choice that provide enhanced programming for students specifically seeking those experiences. The curriculum and teaching staff for visual and performing arts classes and activities should reflect the rich diversity of the Austin community. Enrollment, participation, and achievement data should inform changes to the program.
5. Please add any additional comments on the arts and the Creative Learning Initiative.
I am grateful to all of the AISD students, staff, families, and partners who provide arts and creative learning opportunities at Austin schools.