Youth in Arts joined the Marin County Office of Education and a team of STEM educators and experts to conduct a week-long professional development workshop on STEAM learning for more than 60 teachers in Novato, CA. The program was dedicated to considering how the environment impacts people and how people impact the environment, asking K-12 teachers from across Marin County to rethink how they might teach the California Environmental Principles and Concepts to their students in innovative and interdisciplinary ways.
Utilizing a culturally responsive framework to consider the diverse ways in which our students learn, we considered how to address global issues such as climate change through a local lens using place-based inquiry and problem solving. The week-long training event began with participants experiencing STEAM as learners, taking part in a Phenomena Walk that involved finding and drawing an intersection between nature and something human-made and employing discussion-based reflection frameworks like Visual Thinking Strategies to break down the meaning of the Environmental Principles and Concepts.
We then examined sea level rise and ways to make meaningful change through a case study of the Canal in San Rafael, and used the Engineering Design Cycle to plan out how to take this case study and apply it. Building on this process, we used resources from the Davidson Middle School’s Makerspace to think creatively and prototype solutions to issues such as reducing plastic consumption and designing structures for desalinization. Throughout the institute, participants learned ways to use art collaboratively in the classroom, from techniques such as theatre-based presentations to a Making Learning Visible wall that showed how to document the process of learning through photographs, words and art.
Participants were encouraged to create a cross-disciplinary framework meant to empower students to ask questions and become advocates in their communities. If teachers support students in becoming leaders, they in turn can design solutions to care for the environment. “The impact of humans on the environment is something we can’t ignore, and young people are already leading the way toward finding solutions,” said Executive Director Miko Lee. “This was an important collaboration to help teachers reach all learners through multiple methods.”
Lee was one of the keynote speakers of day one focused on Cultural Responsive Teaching. On the second day students from the Sunrise Movement spoke about getting the Green New Deal passed in Marin. On day three, artist and activist Favianna Rodriguez, who talked about the importance of looking for stories that allow students to create a future of possibility. She also showed a map of the Bay Area and noted how poorer areas bear the brunt of pollution. Encourage students to examine their own community, she said, and document what is represented – and what is not. On day four former Youth in Arts Director Nydia Algazzali Gonzalez spoke about the importance of interdisciplinary learning. To watch the keynote speeches, please visit the Marin County Office of Education.
The final two days included time for curriculum planning. A cohort of 18 teachers returned on Sunday to gear up for Summer School. Those summer school teachers, will receive mentoring from Agency By Design whose Executive Director is Brooke Toczylowski, former YIA staff artist.
Mishka Banuri is a 17-year-old from Utah who helped craft and pass the Utah Climate Resolution, the first of its kind in a traditionally conservative state. Here is a video made by the Brower Awards.
Mari Copeny, also known as Little Miss Flint, has been the 11-year-old activist about the Flint Michigan water crisis. Here is an article/video of her in Teen Vogue.
Jamie Margolin is a 16-year-old Seattle teen who founded Zero Hour, a youth led climate change movement. Here is Jamie’s TEDX talk. Each of the teens in Zero Hour represent a different perspective and part of the United States. More about the team in the NYTimes here and also here in the New Yorker.
Jade Sweeney is an 18-year-old from North Carolina who is combatting Colony Collapse Disorder and addressing bee conservation by introducing apiaries and pollinator parks in her local schools. Here is a video made by the Brower Awards.
Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh is a teen Indigenous environmental activist who sued the U.S. government over the issue of climate change. He is also a spoken word artist. Here is a vice video (FYI swearing involved). Here is his talk to the United Nations.
Greta Thunberg is a teen Swedish climate change activist who lead the international student strike. Here is Greta’s TED talk. Here is the Brave video about her leading the movement.
Rose Whipple is a 17-year-old from Minnesota who is fighting the Pipeline, which is proposed to go through Minnesota and indigenous territories and will threaten the way of life of the Anishinaabe and Dakota people. Here is a video made by the Brower Awards.Kaiya Yonamine, an Okinawan-American 17-year-old created “Our Islands Treasure” video about the building of another U.S. military base that is polluting the ocean. Watch the 3-minute trailer here. There’s also a 20-minute documentary with some subtitles.
Brower Awards – Go here for video profiles from Earth Island Institute’s Brower Youth Award for Environmental Leadership. Many, many excellent youth activists from across North America and covering a variety of environmental issues.
Climate Woke!/CultureStrike Project discussed by artist Favianna Rodriguez links climate change to racial injustice. Climate Woke video.
Water Protectors – Here is a teacher’s guide (with lessons, videos, stakeholders) on Dakota Access Pipeline protesters -– the Standing Rock Water Protectors (many of the leaders are youth).
College, rock bands and travel are on the minds of four ‘Til Dawn seniors who are leaving the group this summer.
The four graduating seniors are Kathryn Hasson, Maud Utstein, Will Noyce and Angel Gregorian. Also departing is sophomore Lara Burgert, who is moving with her family to the East Coast – coincidentally to the same town where one of the newest ‘Til Dawn members just came from. ‘Til Dawn is part of Youth in Arts’ I AM mentorship program and the longest-running, year-round teen a cappella ensemble in the Bay Area. It’s directed by Austin Willacy, who performs as a solo artist and also with his own a cappella group, The House Jacks.
“It’s been a really good experience with people I have come to love so much,” Hasson said. “It’s taught me obviously so much about music but also so much about collaboration as an artist. Art is about connection, and that is what Youth in Arts is doing.”
Noyce, a senior at San Domenico School, is headed to Santa Monica College to study film production and work for a production company. Gregorian, who attends the Marin School of the Arts, is attending Loyola University New Orleans.
One of the things she appreciated about ‘Til Dawn, she said, was a chance to deeply discuss complex events and consider multiple perspectives.
“It was always ok to be curious and talk about world issues,” she said.
She and other ‘Til Dawn members stressed how important access to the arts is for all learners.
“For a lot of kids, it can be the thing that helps them get through the hard parts of life,’’ Utstein said.
Noyce, who was part of ‘TIl Dawn for four years, agreed.
“What ‘Til Dawn fosters is the idea that you can have your own path,” Noyce said. “Often times, artists don’t do as well in the school system. I think ‘Till Dawn shows there are other paths.”
Youth in Arts’ Mentor Artist Eddie Madril taught counter narratives to a group of Marin County teachers by sharing his experience as a member of the Native American community.
Madril is part of the Pascua Yaqui tribe of southern Arizona and northern Sonora Mexico and represents his culture as a dancer, singer, teacher, playwright and filmmaker. During his presentation, teachers experienced history differently and learned how to make a corn husk figure (not a doll). Madrid talked about how important it is to understand multiple perspectives, including how tribes historically cared for and respected the land where they lived and did not consider it something that could be bought and sold. He also explained that if there is only one student in a class who is Native, for example, that student should not be singled out or made to represent all Native American people. Teachers ended the day with a hoop dance.
“It’s critical for teachers to be able to hear counter-narratives to expand their teaching to reach all learners,” said Youth in Arts’ Executive Director Miko Lee. “It’s through these culturally responsive teaching practices that our students can learn about the world that we live in with a more balanced perspective.”
Madril has taught American Indian music at San Francisco State University and was a three-year recipient of the California Arts Council Artist-In-Residence grant. As a dancer and educator, he has performed throughout the western United States, including the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival and World Arts West’s arts education program People Like Me. He works with students to encourage the appreciation of and respect for American Indian dance, music, culture, history, art and sign language.
To review the hands-outs and suggested readings, go here.
Youth in Arts worked with the Marin County Office of Education to provide professional development courses like these. We are proud to announce a generous grant from the California Arts Council to provide for Eddie Madrill’s Assembly Performance and Workshops for Title 1 schools whose teachers attended the counter narrative training. Thanks also to Marin Community Foundation for supporting our work.
Laurel Dell 5th graders spent a few days happily painting one of San Rafael’s utility boxes as part of the “emPower Utility Art Box” project. If you’re heading to the 101 freeway, you’ll see the box at Second Street and Lincoln Avenue on the right side.
This spring, the students participated in a 12-week residency program that was a unique collaboration between Youth in Arts and UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN. The program featured local architects Shirl Buss and Janine Lovejoy Wilford and artists working with 4th and 5th grade students teaching design and build concepts. Students created bridges, towers and maps looking at important issues facing San Rafael, such as climate change, affordable housing and access to the Canal community.
“It’s great that the students were so engaged in the work, ” said Mentor Artist Suzanne Joyal. “They really wanted people to think seriously about San Rafael’s 2040 plan and what the city needs for the future.”
To paint the utility box, a small group of 5th graders worked with Joyal and Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman. In selecting the design and color, it was important to consider how different colors make us feel. Students practiced writing their important words big so they would be visible. Despite the heat, the painting was fun! We didn’t blend colors completely to maintain a painterly effect. We added floating houses, trees, birds and clouds. When we were done painting, we added more detail and pattern using paint markers. It is an important visual reminder of what we all need to be thinking about.
The grand unveiling of the six boxes that were painted will be held on June 14 in conjunction with the 2nd Fridays Art Walk from 5 to 8 p.m. The boxes are located in the city’s downtown corridor and transit center.
The 2019 San Rafael Leadership Institute started the utility box project as a way to bring more art to downtown San Rafael. The institute is a San Rafael Chamber of Commerce program made up of public and private professionals, nonprofit leaders and business officials.
‘Til Dawn, Youth in Arts’ award-wining a cappella group, dazzled their audience with a wide range of songs at its annual concert at the Carol Franc Buck Hall of the Arts at San Domenico School in San Anselmo. The group is the longest, year-round teen a cappella ensemble in the Bay Area.
Each of the members, mostly from Marin County high schools, performed at least one solo. The repertoire included Big Band music, Motown hits, modern pop tunes and more. ‘Til Dawn is part of Youth in Arts’ Intensive Arts Mentorship program (I AM).
“One of the amazing things about a cappella music is it’s universally relatable to human beings because we all have voices; because it’s all coming from a human voice, any number of genres that people might not otherwise listen to are accessible,” said ‘Til Dawn Director Austin Willacy.
Willacy has been the director for 22 years and also records and performs with his own a cappella band, The House Jacks, and as a solo artist.
“Programs like these are vital for creating a space for young artists to thrive,” said Youth in Arts’ Executive Director Miko Lee. “These talented young singers practiced for months and their hard work paid off. The audience was thrilled.”
If you missed the concert, you’re in luck. ‘Til Dawn performs at the Marin County Fair in San Rafael on July 3 from 3:30 to 4 p.m.
And check out some videos here:
Thank you to San Domenico School for the generous gift of the hall for the concert and to the Marin Community Foundation.