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Feb. 22, 2021
March is California Arts Education Month, Youth Art Month, and Music in Our Schools Month! This is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the amazing things happening in your classrooms for your students. Take a few minutes to consider how the arts have empowered you or changed your life, and incorporate this as a writing prompt with your students. Submit your responses on social media by mentioning @ArtsEmpowerSD and using the hashtag #ArtsEmpowerSD or use this form to share you and your students’ stories. See the Spotlight section below for more ideas to support students and arts education this month.

Last month I asked you to share your strategies to stay mentally and physically healthy. Some recommendations from your colleagues include:
  • Set up daily routines for exercise, meditation, and the practice of artistic skills and creativity
  • Stay connected to friends and colleagues
  • Be an active supporter of arts education

Living and working through a pandemic isn't getting any easier, that's why it's so important to prioritize your needs so you can support others. Having a community of educators who understand what you're going through can help too - that’s what the Arts Empower San Diego Mega Rally Encore: Student Spotlight is all about. For an hour on March 11, we’ll come together to lift each other up in a time that’s been pretty challenging and isolating. I look forward to seeing you there. 

If you’re on Twitter, connect with me @PCrooks_VAPA and others passionate about arts education on our weekly conversation #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
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Music That Unifies: Developing Empathy and Understanding Through World Music
Join us on March 8 and 15 for a pair of interactive sessions designed to utilize the power of music to broaden a student's world view and develop a greater sense of empathy. The sessions will reinforce both the need for discipline-specific music and arts instruction as well as integrated instruction to benefit the whole child. We will explore the lives of people in other parts of the world by introducing students to the music that is part of their daily lives, rituals, and celebrations, while also introducing and reinforcing key music standards.

This series will pair a 25-minute session one week with a more in-depth, hour-long discussion the following week. Materials and resources have been adapted for virtual, hybrid, and in-person learning. For questions or more information, email Aaron Bryan or Pauline Crooks.
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Arts Empower Mega Rally Encore: Student Spotlight
The October 2020 Arts Empower Mega Rally was such a success that we are presenting an encore! Please join us March 11 for the Arts Empower Mega Rally Encore: Student Spotlight. Be inspired by a student panel as well as beautiful and powerful artwork created by our students to help them cope, connect, and communicate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Register now to attend the Arts Empower San Diego Rally Encore: Student Spotlight. We can't wait to celebrate arts education and our San Diego County students with you.
Introduction to Arts Integration
Build an awareness of how arts integration using theatre strategies can activate your curriculum in any content area. This online, asynchronous course developed by La Jolla Playhouse will guide educators through a deep understanding of the value of standards based arts integration, how to develop an ensemble mindset in the classroom, assessment through the arts, and ways to connect community arts organizations to schools. Course includes example lesson plans, teacher testimony, and resources to guide arts integration into standards based curriculum. 
This course was designed in collaboration through the Kennedy Center Partners in Education partnership between the La Jolla Playhouse, the Chula Vista Elementary School District, and the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) with funding provided by the CCSESA Arts Initiative. Please use this link to sign up for this course today.

San Diego Area Arts Leadership Community
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 investigates 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 Feb. 26, March 19, April 16, May 14, and June 4.

TCAP's Latin Music Webinars
TCAP's 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. TCAP's 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
The California Arts Project'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, 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.
  • Upcoming Sessions are Feb. 25, March 25, April 29, and May 27.
  • Register using this form and a Zoom link will be emailed to you.

View the latest VAPA professional learning opportunities on the SDCOE Visual and Performing Arts website.
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Updated Guidance from the California Department of Public Health
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:

Please email to learn more about this guidance and considerations for arts education

Arts Education Curriculum Units
The SDCOE Curriculum and Instruction, Multilingual Education and Global Achievement, and Innovation teams collaborated to design distance learning units of study in grades K-12 that are focused on grade-level essential learning 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.

New County Board of Education Student Position
There's a new opportunity for students to learn about government processes and use their voice to represent other students across our region. Young people are powerful agents of change and their perspective is an important part of our decision-making in education. 

The San Diego County Board of Education is seeking applications of students in grades 10 and 11 with diverse backgrounds and experiences to apply for a new student board member position. A student representative from public high schools throughout the 42 districts will be selected from each of the five board regions and will serve on a rotating basis for two months of meetings with the first term beginning in May. The application packet is online at and applications are due by March 5. Questions can be directed to Matt Hayes at or 858-295-8857.
Center for World Music Flamenco Dance Teaching Artist Lakshmi Basile
Lakshmi Basile, nicknamed “La Chimi” by her peers, is a flamenco dancer, teaching artist, and performer of the highest level. To watch her in motion is an enchanting experience as she enters an almost trance-like state, becoming one with the music. 

Offstage, Lakshmi is down to earth and laughs easily. It’s inspiring to see how she takes a dance that can be intimidating for many and breaks it down in a fun and engaging way for her students, no matter what their age or experience.

Lakshmi grew up in a San Diego household filled with music. She studied dance at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts and UC Santa Barbara, moving to Spain at the age of 20 to complete her flamenco studies. She was quickly found work in tablaos and at private flamenco events and festivals.

“La Chimi” is one of the first and only foreign artists in Spain to win a coveted national prize, the Concurso de las Minas de La Unión, and she was also awarded the Concurso Nacional de Arte Flamenco de Córdoba. 

Before returning to San Diego, Lakshmi lived for over 15 years in Seville, the cradle of flamenco, where she performed daily as a soloist. She is sought after as a teacher by flamenco students in Spain and the United States, and we are delighted and honored to have Lakshmi join us as a teaching artist at the Center for World Music.

See a preview video of Lakshmi’s Living Room Learning dance lesson.
Music Teaching Videos for Virtual Classroom
Advocates For Classical Music invites all elementary and middle school teachers and parents who are home schooling to utilize two newly created videos to help students better understand the various instruments of the symphony orchestra. These videos are short (around 10 minutes each), engaging, and fun to watch.

Perhaps, with the start of this new semester, your students need to select an instrument they want to learn to play. These videos (Making Music 1 and 2) will help them decide. One video demonstrates strings and woodwinds, while the other covers brass and percussion. They are also helpful if you are teaching about the symphony orchestra. These videos are free of charge and readily available to view anytime at your convenience on the Advocates For Classical Music YouTube Channel.  

Advocates For Classical Music, an all-volunteer organization, has been introducing kids to great music for the past 25 years through music docent visits to the classroom. In response to this pandemic and distance learning, the organization is continually developing a variety of musical teaching resources to assist teachers and home-schoolers with music education.
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Get Involved in Arts Education Advocacy This Month
Looking for ways to participate in California Arts Education Month? Consider the following resources from Arts Empower San Diego, California Arts Education Association (CAEA), California Music Educators Association (CMEA), and Arts Are Education for new ideas and approaches.

Arts Empower San Diego is a collective-impact initiative working to improve and support arts education in San Diego County. The mission of Arts Empower San Diego is to ensure high-quality arts education for every student, supported through the collective impact of a motivated community of arts advocates. Visit the Arts Empower website to find information about events, professional learning opportunities, and resources.  

CAEA has been celebrating Youth Art Month since 1961, when it was originally called Children’s Art Month. Youth Art Month exists to recognize art education as a viable factor in the total education curriculum that develops citizens of a global society, as a necessity for the full development of better quality of life for all, and expand art programs in schools. You can read more about the purpose of Youth Art Month and how to celebrate it here.

CMEA has created a public service announcement in partnership with the National Federation of State High School Associations. The announcement is designed to encourage participation in performing arts classes as a way to improve a child's social and emotional well-being. You are encouraged to share the announcement with your networks and media outlets.
Arts Are Education is a new national campaign in support of arts education for all students. Visit the website to register for virtual town-hall events and find advocacy resources, including talking points to share the importance of arts education for all students with other stakeholders.
Free Virtual Field Trip for Students (K-6)
Women's History Month Meet & Greet will live-stream on YouTube from 11 to 11:30 a.m. March 3.

Meet the female musicians of Classics 4 Kids! Learn about historical women composers who beat the odds and the modern-day conductors, performers, and educators who continue their legacy. Registration required by Feb. 26.
Don't miss the broadcast for students (K-6) of Sing Me A Story: The Enchanted Tail on iTV Cable 16 . SDCOE partnered with Classics4Kids, Opera4Kids, The San Diego Children’s Choir, and Advocates For Classical Music to bring this story to life at the Balboa Theatre in 2019. Before the performance, check out Advocates For Classical Music pre-concert video. Air dates are March 5, 17, and 26 at noon.
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 now and June 15. Contact for more information.
For this new era of distanced and adapted learning, the Kennedy Center offers a free virtual Performances for Young Audiences season to all teachers and students across the country. This includes six digital performances in music, dance, and theater that your schools can only see by registering in advance and obtaining your own school links. Included in the exciting series of performances are two all-new works by the center's education artist-in-residence, author and illustrator Mo Willems. Register here today.
Get up-to-the-minute information about what's happening at SDCOE and in our districts across the county.