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 Raising the Bar by Including the Arts

Students at Montgomery Elementary raise their hands in class as part of an integrated arts exercise.

A longtime partnership between the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) and the La Jolla Playhouse is making a big difference in the lives of some South County students.

The students at John J. Montgomery Elementary in Chula Vista Elementary School District have seen an increase in their performance on English language arts assessments since the implementation of a new program that brings the arts into every classroom.

SDCOE and the La Jolla Playhouse were recognized as a Partner in Education partnership site through the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. As a partnership site, they created the Arts Academy program, which places professional teaching artists in schools with classroom teachers to integrate theatre activities and exercises into existing curriculum. Students at Montgomery Elementary raise their hands in class as part of an integrated arts exercise.

The program is now at Montgomery Elementary. The school’s work includes new innovative instructional approaches, such as text-based arts integration strategies that advance equity, raise student achievement, and engage students, families, and teachers.

“It is our responsibility to bring the world to our students,” said Montgomery Principal Monica Ruiz.

The school is also partnering with the San Diego Youth Symphony and their district’s Visual and Performing Arts team.

SDCOE is involved in the planning, data collection, and reflection for the Arts Academy program at Montgomery Elementary. The work at the school will help the County Office replicate efforts at other interested schools.

"This is a great partnership that helps SDCOE in its ongoing work to ensure equity for students and it brings the arts into every classroom," said Dr. Paul Gothold, San Diego County superintendent of schools.

Guadalupe González, president of the San Diego County Board of Education, agreed.

"The arts are an important component in educating the whole child," González said.

Interested schools or districts should email SDCOE VAPA Coordinator Pauline Crooks.