Award for Local Advocacy Work in Orange County

Each year, the Orange County Music and Arts Administrators (OCMAA) present awards to honor the accomplishments of teachers who make a difference in the lives of students through arts education. In May over two hundred people filled the Samueli Theatre at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts to celebrate the exemplary work being done by teachers in schools throughout the county.

This year, the California Alliance for Arts Education received the Chairman’s Award in recognition of our arts education advocacy work through the Local Advocacy Network program. Launched in 2010 the program provides local groups the leadership development, strategic assistance and online resources and communication tools they need to make effective school board presentations, earn media coverage of their issue and build partnerships with business, arts, education, parent and social justice groups in their community.

In Orange County, working with county-level partners at Arts Orange County and the County Office of Education, the program has fostered the formation of twenty-two district-based local advocacy coalitions and the adoption of arts plans in the majority of these districts.

This OCMAA event, like so much of what is related to arts education in Orange County, was the creation of Jim Thomas, the retiring the Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator for the county. It grew from his understanding that we all thrive within the recognition of a community. In his fourteen-year tenure with the OCCOE, Jim has created a countywide community that elevates the mission of arts education. Monthly OCMAA attended by district leaders, community arts educators, business, and parents are a forum for learning, solving common problems, communicating information, and promoting arts education for all students.

Thank you to Jim and all of the inspiring teachers and advocates working hard to bring quality arts education to OC public school students everyday.