Report from the Parent Education event on April 17th


Article by Courtney Fielder, Capistrano Alliance Coordinator

The Capistrano Council of PTSA sponsored a parent education event on Tuesday, April 17th, at the Capistrano Unified School District office. The event hosted guest speakers Pat Wayne from Arts Orange County, Sarah Murr from Boeing and Jim Thomas from the Orange County Department of Education.

The crowd was a great mix of parents, educators, PTA members, community business leaders, and city representatives. Also in attendance was the President of the Capistrano School Board Dr. Gary Pritchard. It was truly encouraging to see so many people concerned about the quality of arts education our children at Capistrano Unified receive.

Pat Wayne started off the conversation by giving us some facts about the types of companies that are hiring right now in Orange County. 1 out of every 6 jobs is in a creative industry. Then Pat took us through the history of how the teaching of the arts as a core subject began to decline due to changes in school funding since the 1970’s. Due to this lack of focus, teachers have received less training in using the arts as an important integration tool for core studies.

Sarah Murr is the Community Investor for the Boeing Company. In her presentation, Sarah gave us an overview of the importance of creativity and innovation in the work that Boeing does. The company is looking for people that can think outside the box and work collaboratively to create products that save money and energy while passing along comfort and saving to its end customers. Sarah stated, “Arts integration is one of the most powerful tools to teach math and science.”

Jim Thomas, the Coordinator for Visual and Performing Arts for the Orange County Department of Education, was the final speaker in the program.  Jim explained the partnership of the California Alliance for Arts Education and School Districts with an art plan. These districts are called Arts Advantage Districts.  Capistrano Unified is an Arts Advantage District.  Through funding obtained by Arts Orange County from arts organizations and companies like Boeing, OCDE is able to offer professional development for teachers in areas of the arts. OCDE has developed curriculum to teach visual arts, dance and music to primary teachers.  For the secondary art specialist, training facilitates collaboration and best practice since these teachers tend to work in isolation from their peers. Jim stressed that professional development is critical tool in keeping arts integrated into the curriculum.

Pat wrapped the evening up by talking about ways people can help. Posted separately is a handout with a parents guide to helping your child be more creative. Being informed is also important. If you have ideas of how to help children be more creative through activities at home or at your school sites, please feel free to share them here.

I will continue to work with the school district to ensure that we make the most out of the offerings from OCDE. If I need your support at a board meeting I will let you all know so you can come and support arts education and let your voices be heard.

Special thanks goes out to the council PTSA who worked very hard to but this event on, most notability, Marilyn Amato our council president, Trudy Podobas and Mary Fortmer with parent education, and Del Dinger for the lovely hospitality.

Special thanks also goes out to our wonderful and dedicated speakers, Pat Wayne, Sarah Murr, and Jim Thomas. It was a truly great presentation.