Classroom Teachers and Parent Volunteers Recognized for Artistic Innovation

Posted: Wednesday, April 10th 2019

Classroom teacher Reyna Turner (Loma Portal Elementary School) receives her award from Board of Education President Dr. Sharon Whitehurst-Payne and VAPA Dance Resource Teacher Candice Narlock

The San Diego Unified School District Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Department recognizes students, teachers, administrators, and community members in their annual VAPA Spotlight Awards. The awards, which are sponsored by the VAPA Foundation, are presented to nominees who represent the strength of the district’s arts programs. This year’s Awards Ceremony was held on March 13, 2019 in the Board Room of the Eugene Brucker Education Center. Sixteen awards were presented in six different categories.

This is No. 4 of 6 in a series of profiles on the winners of the 2019 VAPA Spotlight Awards.

One of the awards given at the VAPA Spotlight Awards was the Artistic Innovation Award. This category honors those who take risks, seek new approaches, and work at the cutting edge in the arts. Winners in this category include two classroom teachers and a pair of parent volunteers.

Reyna Turner is a 3rd grade teacher at Loma Portal Elementary, where she incorporates the arts into every subject. Rana’s colleague, Kelly Magaudda, describes how Reyna transfers her own love for the arts into amazing classroom visual art projects in math (real-world applications), social science (like Kumeyaay homes and culture), and more. Reyna says, When I became a teacher, I quickly realized one way to promote student engagement was to integrate art across the curriculum. I have seen my students make real world connections across all content areas.  Emphasizing beauty in imperfection and originality over perfection and competition and the need to be “right”, builds positive classroom community, tolerance, acceptance, and personal pride. I have found art allows children to think creatively and explore other points of view. It promotes independent thinkers. Art is the great equalizer in the classroom. Everyone can be an artist and everyone can create beauty.

Bill McClain (pictured at right, with Board of Education President Dr. Sharon Whitehurst-Payne and VAPA Visual Art Resource Teacher Marty Stegeman) is the sole 4th grade teacher at Carver Elementary School, as well as the campus artistic guru. Bill dedicates himself to Art Club every Tuesday, fostering the love of visual arts in the school’s third, fourth, and fifth graders. Not only is Bill giving of his time, but he is also giving of his spirit. He embodies creativity and inspires everyone around him to do so as well. Bill works with his fourth grade class ardently teaching through the arts, not simply including arts, but using the arts to teach standards and concepts in other subject areas.  Bill says, "About 10 years ago I received my Masters Degree from Lesley University in Integrating the Arts into the Curriculum. As part of my Masters Thesis, Julie Tupper and I started Art Matters, Carver Elementary School's only after school club. I have witnessed students develop critical thinking skills, sharpen resiliency and responsibility while creating their own art. Each and every year I am amazed at how art can help students develop confidence and creativity. Thank you to all the wonderful students and fellow teachers at Carver who have supported creativity and art in all its forms." 

Kevin and Carmen Kasner are active volunteers for the theatre program and marching band at Mira Mesa High School, where they have two children enrolled. The Kasners are both engineers with strong creative problem-solving skills that have supported the arts programs with their technical skill and expertise. In the fall, they designed and constructed a 15-foot globe for the marching band field show that was outfitted with lights and turned on its axis. In the spring, they worked side-by-side with students, showing them the process and reasoning behind the technical and stage construction for the school musical, “Beauty and the Beast.” The Kasners state, “As [our] kids progress, it is very rewarding to us to see their growth as they mature and work together towards the performance, showcasing all of their hard work and preparation. The life skills of teamwork, hard work, and dedication that are being developed by participating in the high performing arts program at Mira Mesa High School gives these students a measurable advantage in the future.”

PICTURED ABOVE: Kevin and Carmen Kasner receive their award from VAPA Music Resource Teacher Laura Williams and Board of Education President Dr. Sharon Whitehurst-Payne

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