The Search for Quality and Sustainability
Working through each year of the Studio process, our Sunriver/La Pine Studio team was energized by the resources and the encouragement to create quality music and creative arts experiences for La Pine Middle School students. At every stage our team thought deeply about ways to define and ensure quality and about how to build sustainability for the future.
The seven Studio to School Principles were developed from the collective experiences of all 18 project teams combined with existing research about high-quality arts education. Rubrics defining stages of programming within each principle were built. Our team’s most recent task was to analyze our project progress according to these rubrics.
The Rubric Process
At a March 15thStudio team meeting members reviewed the seven principles and used the rubrics to assess our project progress on each one. Present were Pam Beezley, Sunriver Music Festival Director and Project Lead, Michael Chavarin, LPMS Music Teacher, Stefanie Bright, Parent/Community Representative, and Gayle Vidal, Project Evaluator. A conflict prevented Robi Phinney, LPMS Principal, from taking part in this initial discussion.
Each person individually considered the rubrics for each principle, matched elements of our program status, and listed evidence for his/her thinking. In shared discussion we found that our initial impressions sometimes differed, primarily because each of us have different responsibilities and subsequent different depths of knowledge about parts of our overall project. However, through discussion, on every principle we were able to agree on project progress.
We also agreed, given time, we could do substantive write-ups for all seven of the principles, but we decided to concentrate on two in which our project ratings and evidence were strongest.
- Create a shared vision for arts education programming through an inclusive and ongoing planning process, and
- Foster mutual commitment and responsibility in collaboration between arts organizations and schools.
From the discussion Gayle created and distributed an initial draft of our analysis for review by all five members of our committee. That draft, along with a timeline for completion of our final Principles document, was sent to Kim at OCF on March 16th.
The Principles rubrics were discussed again at an April 19thStudio team meeting. Drafts of rubrics work to date were distributed to all five members to solicit input, and a final document was submitted to OCF May 1, 2018,
The rubrics provided our team a defined external road map for discussions. Using them broadened our perspective, individually and as a group, and presented a comprehensive guide to help us make our project stronger.
Generally most of us were pleased with our progress these last three and a half years. The strengths we identified included a strong shared vision and planning process, guided by a stable, talented and committed Studio team partnership between Sunriver Music Festival, school officials, staff, students, and parents. Responsibilities are shared, meetings are regular and productive, tasks are completed promptly, and materials and spaces are efficiently managed for program participants. A variety of opportunities for students exist in music, art and drama within and outside the school day.
Areas for growth include a need to identify key community partners who can continue to advocate for music and arts education. Because we started with minimal music and arts programing at La Pine Middle School, most of our resources and effort have been concentrated on developing and implementing a core strategy for extending arts and music programs. Student public performances have been enthusiastically received but more must be done to engage families and community leaders as participants and advocates for ongoing, daily arts programming.
All staff have been supportive of Studio initiatives and some arts activities, beyond those in electives, have been embedded into other course offerings, including Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, PE and AVID. Some staff lead co-curricular arts clubs. However, staff development in arts integration is still needed to amplify creative arts learning opportunities within the school day. LPMS is a small school with limited electives so opportunities need to be everywhere. Skillful staff hires have added arts-inspired teachers to the faculty and this process, as well as using community mentors and artists-in-residence should continue. As music and art become more integrated and visible as part of school course offerings, we anticipate the entire community will become more knowledgeable and engaged.
From its inception our group has focused on creating programs that are high quality and sustainable. The principles and the rubrics that define them will be very useful in planning for and evaluating program quality and in establishing a road map for future growth.