A Movement in Arts Integration

Windsor Unified School District
Publication Date: 
Monday, May 13, 2019

In late November, Windsor Unified School District (WUSD) was notified by the California Department of Education of their successful application for a Student Support and Enrichment (SSAE) Grant. The iAspire project (Internet-based Arts: Successful Pedagogy through Integration, Research and E-learning) is currently underway and 56 lead and participating teachers have joined the project team. In this rare opportunity, teachers are being paid extra duty hours to inform the curriculum development process, participate in voluntary arts integration trainings, and pilot the new arts integrated curriculum. While the grant window ends in September 2019, the iAspire project will continue, creating a sustainable model that will allow teachers to integrate the arts across content areas and become leaders in arts integration in their respective schools and in the county.

With the iAspire grant, WUSD is able to accelerate the strategic plan for the arts and address three years of arts integration goals for grades TK-5. The project will provide nearly 500 iPads and arts software as well as new arts supplies that support standards-based learning in dance, media arts, music, theatre and visual arts. The grant also provides for teacher professional learning in strategies to integrate the arts with WUSD’s English/Language Arts and Spanish Language Arts curriculum at all sites including Cali Calmecac Bilingual Charter. Windsor was able to expand the grant to 6-12th grade to support paid time for 6-12 VAPA and AME teachers to create an articulation plan, and develop a Scope and Sequence aligned with the new VAPA standards and the iAspire project.  The grant also funds supplies and equipment for all VAPA programs across the district.

The iAspire project builds on WUSD’s successful partnership with Windsor Arts Now to create an arts action plan, adopted by the Windsor School Board in January. According to WUSD Superintendent Brandon Krueger, “The Windsor Unified arts action plan is a clear roadmap to delivering arts education for students. We know that the arts are essential to a well-rounded education." The action plan identifies grades TK-5 as the first priority for enhancing the district’s arts programs, and that’s exactly where iAspire begins. All elementary schools in the district will receive new books, materials, equipment and supplies that address identified arts needs at the school. On a voluntary basis, elementary teachers will be paid to complete online and face to face learning in the arts that will empower them with arts integration strategies to boost student achievement in the arts and ELA, a proven method to boost student engagement and academic success.

To support this work, Windsor Unified has partnered with a nationally recognized project team that has successfully implemented multimillion-dollar arts grants in other districts around the country: Big Idea Arts and Education Consulting, CRT Creative and Education Design. Their efforts in successful multimillion-dollar federal grant projects have led to significant student achievement in the arts and ELA, including a 25% increase in student writing scores. They will be working in collaboration with the WIndsor Arts Now Community, and the WUSD Visual and Performing Arts Facilitation team led by Allison Frenzel and Hector Marquez of Pulse Arts.