October 2016 Newsletter: Direct from Our Director

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  • October 3, 2016
October 3, 2016  -   Posted To:   Newsletter

Welcome back to school, Turnaround Arts family! We hope everyone had an amazing summer, and we cannot WAIT to work with you this school year on inspiring change in our schools across the country. We are very fortunate to have expanded into 19 new schools (making a total of 68!), and it’s hard to believe that we’ve taken our eight-school pilot program to this level. The Turnaround Arts team is thrilled to welcome local programs in North Dakota and Milwaukee into our network, as well as give shout outs to our new schools in California, Minnesota, and New Orleans ‒ it’s going to be a great year. SNAP!

Milwaukee Turnaround Artists Jacqueline Suskin, Johnny Nunez, Valerie June, and Larisa Martinez joined forces at a press conference for the launch event there in September.

We’ve had a whirlwind of a summer, and there’s so much to share since our last newsletter in April. In addition to our expansion, we premiered our video “Everyday People” with our incredible partners at Playing for Change, which features students and their Turnaround Artists from schools from New York to Hawai`i (and, by the way, is up to around 300,000 views so far, so keep on sharing!), the First Lady hosted us at the White House for our SECOND Talent Show, we announced a new partnership with the Kennedy Center, and had almost 300 of our closest friends with us in Warrenton, VA, for a week of professional learning at the annual Summer Leadership Retreat. You could say we’ve been a little busy these last few months!

The Summer Leadership Retreat left us feeling renewed and energized to take on a fall full of launch events, artist visits, and getting to know more about our new schools and local programs. It’s an intense couple of days, but we here at National always look forward to the opportunity to spend some time with the arts leadership teams that do the on-the-ground work in our schools, and we’re always amazed at how much we all learn in just a few days together. We continue to see encouraging improvement in behavior referrals, school climate, teacher collaboration, and community engagement in our veteran schools. It was truly wonderful to see representatives from our first school teams taking their counterparts from new teams under their wings ‒ we are all in this together. Fittingly, we ended the Retreat with an impromptu sing-a-long that reminded us all that we have somebody to lean on when we need it.

Someone was a little excited to get a hug from the First Lady after a recent performance!

Someone was a little excited to get a hug from the First Lady after a recent performance!

We also have two new faces on the National team: our leadership coach, Ron Gubitz, who we borrowed from his previous position as principal at ReNEW Cultural Arts Academy in New Orleans, and Lindsey Clark, who comes to us from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities as our new program specialist. 

DJ IZ and Dave Matthews joined us in North Dakota with fellow Turnaround Artists Ledisi and Mic Jordan for school visits and a free concert to kickoff #artsforchange with our new family!

The entire team here at National can’t wait to see what this school year has in store ‒ not just for our amazing students, but also for the educators, administrators and parents who believe so wholeheartedly in our mission. This year, the nationwide community that we’ve built together will provide quality instruction through the arts to over 33,000 students who need it most, and that is something of which we should all be proud. We wish you all a happy and healthy school year filled with joy, love, collaboration and, of course, lots and lots of ARTS. Thank you for all you do in helping us create change in our schools.

Warm regards,

Kathy and the Turnaround Arts: National Team