Compton’s McKinley Elementary Receives California Exemplary Arts Education Award
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McKinley students invited to perform at the State Superintendent’s Annual Awards Ceremony at Disneyland Resort

(Compton, CA) State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced that Compton Unified School District’s McKinley Elementary is one of 13 California elementary schools selected for the California Exemplary Arts Education Award. Schools were eligible to apply based on instruction identified in the California Arts Standards for Public Schools (Arts Standards) and performance and progress on indicators on the California School Dashboard.

“This is a great honor which recognizes our staff, parents and students’ hard work and commitment to a vision that ignites a passion for all learners through an art infused curriculum. We believe arts education has had a profound impact on our students from an academic, social, and emotional perspective. We thank our Board, Superintendent Dr. Brawley and the entire Cabinet for giving us the flexibility to provide a meaningful and balanced arts integrated curriculum. This achievement would not have happened without their support,” said Dr. Jennifer Moon, Principal.

Exemplary Arts Awardees must demonstrate outstanding arts instruction in three of five arts disciplines (Dance, Media Arts, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts) and demonstrate positive improvement in school performance areas tracked by the California Dashboard. McKinley Elementary is indeed a top performing school within Compton Unified School District, exceeding the state average in Math and English Language Arts (ELA) scores. Last year, the school was named one of the top Los Angeles County Performing schools for underserved students by Innovate Public Schools.

McKinley’s art programs have also helped foster a remarkable school culture and positive climate for students and community. Since the inception of their various art programs, attendance rates have increased 6% from 2016 to 2019, disciplinary office referrals have decreased by 18%, and students who have met or exceeded in ELA have increased by 27%.

“McKinley truly is a testament to the value of investing in arts education for our students. Research shows that such programming results in improved achievement scores and an all around more positive school climate,” said CUSD Superintendent Dr. Darin Brawley. “We greatly value our arts partners as well as the outstanding McKinley community of students, families and teachers under the leadership of its principal, Dr. Jennifer Moon.”

McKinley, which is a Kindergarten through eighth grade school, fully integrates the arts in daily instruction through weekly music, visual art, dance, and theater instruction for all grades. It also has an actively performing rock band, orchestra, and English language learner journalism program. In 2018, McKinley was selected as one of the 79 Turnaround Arts National Schools. Turnaround Arts (TA) was cofounded by renowned architect Frank Gehry and arts education advocate Malissa Shriver. The program is led by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to help transform schools through the strategic use of the arts. TA provides coaching and resources for the development of high-quality integrated arts education that support school transformation, increase academic achievement and promote student engagement. “We salute the commitment and investment made by Superintendent Darin Brawley, the school board and the inspired leadership at McKinley K-8 School in Compton. We are grateful to our principal, teachers, coaches and local non profit arts providers, who together achieved this accomplishment for their school and for so many deserving students,” shared Ms. Shriver.

TA also provides its schools with high-profile artist mentors as a proven strategy to support school improvement. McKinley’s Turnaround Artist mentor is renowned multi-talented artist and US Cultural Ambassador of Dance, Ms. Debbie Allen. “The work being done at McKinley Elementary serves as an inspiration to all public schools to engage students in all the arts and at an early age. This is the path to humanity, discipline, creativity and INNOVATION,” said Ms. Allen.

In addition to its partnership with TA, McKinley receives music programming support through Educational through Music Los Angeles, who helps schools utilize music education as a catalyst to improve academic achievement, motivation for school and self-confidence. The school’s Meet the Masters program provides visual arts instruction through engaging curriculum delivered by the school’s teachers and staff.

“I am exceedingly proud of McKinley for receiving this well-deserved honor and am appreciative of our State Superintendent Dr. Tony Thurmond for celebrating the outstanding efforts of schools throughout the state in this way,” said President Micah Ali. “CUSD values the arts as a transformative tool in education while wholly recognizing that what enables the arts to have even an even greater impact are the contributions of great educators, students, parents and partners. Well done to the entire McKinley school community!”

“We know that access to arts and STEAM is an important part of closing the achievement gap, and these Exemplary Arts schools put the ‘A’ in ‘STEAM,’” said Thurmond. “Congratulations to these 13 schools for supporting arts and STEAM education, which prepares students to be leaders in the creative economy.”

McKinley’s dance company has been invited to perform at the State Superintendent’s Annual Awards Ceremony, where they and fellow California Exemplary Arts Education Schools will be honored, along with California Distinguished Schools, National Blue Ribbon Schools, National Terrel H. Bell Awardees, and National ESEA Distinguished Schools. The event will take place on February 10, 2020, at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.

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