Year Four reflection:

Our year four of Studio to School was one of great transition as well as progress. Unexpectedly, our program was put in position to have to change schools in order to carry through with our initial mission statement for elementary and middle school arts education in Northeast Portland. Thankfully, we were able to stay in our target area of the city.

At the end of our third year of S2S we were informed that our teaching space would now be used for a day care room and our access to students, which had previously been reduced, would be reduced even more. We were told that expected improvements in academic areas as a result of studying the arts was not apparent enough after two years of the S2S project. I believe, that although academic improvement is indeed a proven benefit of arts education, it’s is not the only benefit and measurement that should be used by an administration to prove the worth of arts education.

During the Summer of year number three, S2S meetings were held with the Vernon School administration as well as teachers, with the possibility of our program being brought to a Northeast Portland K – 8 school. They were beyond enthusiastic and supportive of the idea and welcomed it almost instantly. The move was made and plans were put in place to start the fall of year four.

A New Start

The start of year number four at Vernon was met with great enthusiasm and support by the administration, students, community and staff of Vernon school. After school Jazz Band with fourth through eighth graders took place in the band room Monday through Thursday for one hour and was immediately followed by instrumental sectionals and private lessons. Great progress was made throughout the year and it was agreed to start tracking the progress of these students over the next two years. Still, our goal of reaching the maximum amount of students was not being reached. We felt that instruction during the day reached far more students than just after school instruction. Plans where made to do both in school and after school instruction and this was presented to the administration. It was well received and implemented into the school curriculum immediately for year five.

Year 5 Measurements:

I have learned that measurements in arts education cannot be confined to a students’ GPA. Though we will continue to track academic progress this year, I have begun to track other factors such as: diverse learning environments, confidence, attendance, parental involvement, administrative support and teamwork.

Vernon/S2S students will now receive three hours of in-school training per week, in addition to access to after school classes Monday through Thursday. Our class size has grown from reaching 15 students to currently reaching well over 50 students on a regular basis. At some point within the school year, S2S will provide arts education to every student in the school through collaboration with social studies, history classes and cultural resources programs. We have naturally started to evaluate the effectiveness of having a working relationship with a administration and school that shares and supports the original vision of S2S. We are excited to evaluate our program under these circumstances as well as the impact that it can have on an entire school and community.

Pacific Crest Sinfonetta is a two-layer program. American Music Progam (AMP) is a jazz conservatory program for advanced 7th – 12th graders as well as our S2S Program, which focuses on 3rd – 8th graders. This year has seen the much anticipated progression of a S2S student transition to AMP. Though this is not the only focus of our program, it is one that we both encourage and look forward to. This year will be the first example that we have of our program being successful in doing so.

This year we will be taking a active role in organizations within our home base. We have recently developed a relationship with our PTA and others to ensure the sustainably of our program through fundraising and community involvement. Because the of tremendous amount of support we have received thus far, I am very confident in the future of our work at Vernon school!

This journal entry was made by artistic director Devin Phillips