VAPA Arts in Action header art
Dec. 4, 2020
“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” — E. M. Forster
I found my notes from this time last year and was amazed to see that although the path was not at all what I had planned, I did make progress in my areas of focus. 

While 2020 was not what any of us could have predicted, I would encourage you to think about what was important to you one year ago and compare that to what is important to you today. I hope you will find similarities and discover some peace in knowing what really matters, such as relationships with our families, friends, students, and community, doesn’t change. As we enter a time of year that is generally filled with celebrations and reflection, please know that you are important and loved. I encourage you to let go of what you have planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you. I know this won’t be easy, but you, your students, and everyone else around you will benefit. 

We may be separated with physical distancing, but that just makes it more important to be part of a community of educators who can support each other. I encourage you to connect with friends and colleagues through a weekly phone call or virtual coffee break, joining a discipline-specific arts education organization, or following an educators group on social media. If you’re on Twitter, connect with me @PCrooks_VAPA and others passionate about arts education on our weekly #CaArtsEdChat every Wednesday from 4 to 4:30 p.m. Whether you’ve never participated in a Twitter chat before or are an expert, use this link to see the questions and learn how to join the conversation.

VAPA Coordinator, SDCOE
VAPA arts in action professional learning subhead
View the latest VAPA professional learning opportunities or click the dates below for the registration page. 

San Diego Area Arts Leadership Community
The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) and the Southern Counties California Arts Project (SouthCAP) partner in facilitating the San Diego Area Arts Leadership Community. This community of TK-12 school district arts leaders investigate arts education topics and current research to maintain awareness of issues and policies impacting arts education in California. The community provides a system of support for arts leaders to share, reflect, problem-solve, and learn from each other, especially in our current circumstances with shifting contexts in face-to-face, virtual, and hybrid models of instruction. Sessions will continue Dec. 4 and 18, Jan. 15 and 29, Feb. 12 and 26.

Latin Music Webinars
The California Arts Project's (TCAP) Latin Music Initiative is a free resource for teachers in support of the California Music Standards and broadening the scope of musical traditions studied in educational settings. The Latin Music webinar series explores the intersection and relationships between Afro-Latino, Afro-Caribbean, and Afro-Cuban music; the African diaspora's influence on contemporary Afro-Latino, Afro-Caribbean, and Afro-Cuban music and culture; and culturally relevant instructional teaching practices. Registration is available here. For questions or more information, email

Conversations with California Artists, Creatives, and Educators
TCAP's Conversations webinars highlight artists, creatives, and educators sharing their practice, current work, and how they are finding their way in these changing times. Contemporary artistic practices are a key component of the new California Arts Standards, so join us to gain insight into current and emerging creative practices. Registration is available here. For questions or more information email:

SouthCAP Arts Education Network
In a time of unprecedented challenges, it is more important than ever to connect and network with other arts educators throughout San Diego, Orange, and Imperial counties. Join the SouthCAP Arts Education Network, online from 4 to 5:30 p.m., on the last Thursday of every month, to share experiences, exchange ideas, and stay informed in arts education statewide updates. For TK-12 and post-secondary educators in dance, media arts, music, theatre, visual arts, and CTE AME.
  • 2020-21 Sessions: Dec. 17, Jan. 28, Feb. 25, March 25, April 29, and May 27
  • Register using this form and a Zoom link will be emailed to you.
VAPA arts in action news and resources subhead
Arts Education Curriculum Units
The SDCOE Curriculum and Instruction, Multilingual Education and Global Achievement, and Innovation departments collaborated to design distance learning units of study in grades K-12 that are focused on grade-level essential learnings in each content area. These units were purposefully designed to integrate content (including the arts), and provide flexibility and choice. The units of study connect content in the following areas: English language arts, English language development, mathematics, science, history/social science, arts, computer science, and physical education through integrated study in K-5 and thematic units in grades 6-12. Assessment opportunities (formative and summative) and student feedback are embedded and intentionally developed. These open-source units are being developed in Google to ensure maximum flexibility for teachers to use them with their district’s preferred distance learning instructional platform. The units are available at

Updated Guidance from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH)
The California Department of Public Health has updated its guidance to clarify that outdoor singing and band practice are permitted, provided that precautions such as physical distancing and mask wearing are implemented to the maximum extent possible. The playing of wind instruments (any instrument played by the mouth, such as a trumpet or clarinet) is strongly discouraged. District and site administrators should consider how to adapt plans and make sure spaces and times are made available to accommodate the change, and that good mitigation practices will be used. 

Please visit the following webpages for more information:

Do you want to learn more about this guidance and considerations for arts education? Pauline Crooks will be holding open office hours on Tuesday, Dec. 8 and Thursday, Dec. 10 from 2:30-3:30 p.m. Please register here. If you want to join this conversation, but are unable to attend the dates listed, please email

Music in R Schools 2020 PPE Grant Application 
Music in R Schools is offering grants of up to $2,500 to public schools to purchase personal protective equipment supplies for instruments, such as masks with holes, bell covers for instruments, and other equipment to assist the continuation of music programs during the 2020-21 school year. Please complete the application and submit no later than Dec. 31, 2020. 

California Exemplary Arts Awards
The 2020-21 application is scheduled to be posted in early December on the California Department of Education website. Schools selected for the Exemplary Arts Education Award demonstrate broad-based achievement in arts instruction and for advancing the arts for all students.

Updates on Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Materials
2019 California Arts Standards
The final publication version of the California Arts Standards for Public Schools, Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve (Arts Standards) has been posted on the standards webpage. The publication is in PDF format and includes a Special Acknowledgements section with the names of the members of the Visual and Performing Arts Standards Advisory Committee, publication ordering information, and hyperlinks to glossary terms. The Arts Standards may also be searched and cross-referenced with other content areas using the Search the Standards webpage or using the mobile application available for download. The introduction to the standards is only found in the PDF and contains vital information for educators who are engaging in preliminary learning about the standards.

2020 Arts Framework
The State Board of Education-adopted pre-publication version of the California Arts Education Framework for Public Schools, Transitional Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (Arts Framework) supports the implementation of the 2019 Arts Standards. The framework chapters (adopted in July) are posted on the California Arts Education Framework webpage. The Arts Framework being prepared for publication includes the addition of special acknowledgements and other front matter and professional editing, and design. In the meantime, educators can use the prepublication chapters to access the updated framework content.

2021 Instructional Materials Adoption
On Sept. 22, the application period closed for arts education instructional materials reviewers. Applicants will be evaluated, and then selected reviewers will be recommended to the Instructional Quality Commission at its November meeting. The State Board of Education will ultimately appoint reviewers at its January meeting. Selected participants will participate in a week-long training in April, with adoption deliberations to follow in July. The California Department of Education will invite publishers to submit in late January.
VAPA arts in action spotlight subhead
Paula Richardson
One of this year’s five San Diego County Teachers of the Year is a longtime arts educator in San Diego Unified School District.

Paula Richardson has been teaching music for 13 years, but her influence extends well beyond notes and melodies. When she found the master schedule might be hindering students from taking music class, she volunteered to help with scheduling. When she found testing was often interfering with the year-end music concert, she became the site testing coordinator. With literacy an issue at her campus, she helps by incorporating reading lessons into her music curriculum and increasing access to books and reading materials for students. Richardson knows that music provides valuable skills that will help students in any career path, and advocates for music and the arts as a means to developing well-rounded students and people. “The arts are for everyone and everyone needs the arts,” Richardson said. “I believe we as educators would see more achievement and greater success once we incorporate a well-rounded curriculum and include topics that include every student as they are. Creativity and education go hand-in-hand.”  

From colleague Laura Williams, San Diego Unified VAPA Department: 
The music program at Wilson has blossomed under Paula. She has taught all forms of music: band, orchestra, choir, guitar, piano, drums. She tirelessly takes on new responsibilities and tries new things to best meet the needs and interests of her students, such as directing after-school theatre musical productions and piloting a new mariachi club (one of the first in the district). It is no wonder that over 230 students are currently enrolled in her classes - in a school of less than 700. Paula’s music courses are magic.

From Paula: 
What does this honor mean to you?
San Diego County includes many phenomenal educators that I respect and admire. To be recognized among this inspiring group of people is such a huge honor.

As it relates to your students, what are you most proud of? 
Every child deserves a quality music and arts education. I am most proud that I have taught my students how music helps to build community through connection with their audience and bringing people together.
Youth Art Month San Diego 2021
Submissions are now open through Dec. 15. Eight entries per teacher, grades K-12. Must be a member of California Art Education Association/National Art Education Association. Learn more here.
The Nutcracker Virtual Field Trip
Poway OnStage invites you to participate in The Nutcracker Virtual Field Trip, available through Dec. 18. Poway OnStage’s Virtual Field Trips are interactive, turn-key, self-paced and aligned with California Arts standards.

In Poway OnStage’s Virtual Field Trip, Southern California Ballet will perform narrated show excerpts of The Nutcracker and provide pre-recorded VAPA extension activities in movement, pantomime, and costume design. The field trip also includes a virtual tour of the Poway Center for the Performing Arts.

Each field trip takes about 90 minutes to complete and can be experienced as a single-day event or in smaller sections over several days. This program is fully grant-funded and provided free of charge to all schools and homeschools.
Safa's Story Virtual Theatre Program
Safa’s Story, a virtual theatre-based program for students in grades 3 to 7, is designed to create dialogue about cultural sensitivity, diversity, and accepting difference. The play is based on a true story of a Zimbabwean-American 5th-grade girl from San Diego. The program centers around a rare type of interactive performance called Forum Theatre that empowers students to stand up for themselves and their peers when they experience discrimination or bullying. You can learn more about the show and watch a promo on the Safa's Story website. You can book now to schedule the virtual program anytime between Jan. 15 to June 15. Contact for more information. 
Poetry Out Loud
Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition for high school students, coordinated in San Diego by Write Out Loud. The San Diego County winner competes at the state level. The state winner competes at the national level. Winners at these levels are awarded cash prizes. School competitions can be organized by a teacher, a club or a group of students. Or request that Write Out Loud organize a competition at your school for interested students. If a student attends a school that is not participating in Poetry Out Loud, they can participate as an individual student through Write Out Loud. 
Read Imagine Create
Read Imagine Create encourages middle and high school students to read the poetry of Emily Dickinson in The Essential Emily Dickinson, with an introduction by Joyce Carol Oates, and create a personal expression of the poem or poems in a medium of their choice — literary, visual, performance or media arts. Poetry and visual art workshops are also available virtually, using poems from the book for inspiration. Student entries are adjudicated and cash prizes are awarded to the top selections. Entries are also featured on the Write Out Loud website and a student awards presentation takes place in April 2021. Any student in San Diego County can participate, whether their school is or not. A limited number of books will be available in December and electronic copies of the poems are available now upon request.
Classics 4 Kids Meet and Greet
Available to all elementary students within San Diego County, this free 25-minute live, virtual field trip features an interactive musical performance by a Classics 4 Kids musician or our conductor, an explanation of their instrument, and time for the students to ask questions and share comments with the musician. This program can be utilized for students in the classroom or learning from home. 

Each Meet and Greet is tailored to the grade level of the students in attendance and includes social and emotional learning components and diverse music selections featuring Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and female composers.

Availability is limited – this program is offered Tuesdays to Fridays with start times in the morning at 9:15 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m. For more information or to book a virtual visit, email and include the grade level of students, school name, contact phone number, and three preferred dates and times. Zoom platform is preferred. A Spanish program is available by request.
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