Sunnyvale School District provides arts education in all eight elementary schools by contracting with Starting Arts, an organization that recruits and trains artists to teach in classrooms. Each class receives six 30-minute sessions of instruction from Starting Arts artists, who are practicing professionals in theatre, music, dance, and visual arts. The district paid $185,000+ this year to put the program in every elementary classroom in the district.
Starting Arts’ teachers are professionally trained; they come from schools such as San Jose State University, the American Conservatory Theatre of San Francisco, and Westminster Choir College in Princeton. When Starting Arts teachers are not teaching, they may be found playing various roles in West Valley Light Opera, West Bay Opera, and Napa Valley Shakespeare Festival, performing in local productions such as “Miss Saigon”, “A Chorus Line”, and “Live from Lincoln Center” broadcasts; conducting choirs and choreographing dance and theatre productions. The Visual Art teachers are primarily costume designers, floral designers, and interior decorators; their work may be found in many private collections.
Starting Arts teachers receive teacher training before they start classroom instruction and follow California State Standards for Theatre, Dance, Music, and Visual Arts in their lesson plans. Currently, the district can only afford to fund three 6-week rotations at each location. Most schools have chosen theatre, dance, and music.
For more information about Starting Arts, please visit their website at http://www.startingarts.com/.
Article by Nina Wong-Dobkin