Take 5 with Bruce Hall

ArtsEd Washington is pleased to introduce Bruce Hall and welcome him as our new Program Director.  Bruce previously served as the Director of Education for Giant Magnet (formerly the Seattle International Children’s Festival), a non-profit organization that presents global arts performances to the Puget Sound region.

Bruce has a wide array of arts experience (you can often catch him as host of Annex Theatre’s monthly cabaret), as well as a background in education – having previously served in Seattle Public Schools as a middle school language arts and social studies teacher.  A graduate of Antioch University in Seattle, he holds a masters degree in education. In his new role as Program Manager, Bruce will oversee and manage our Principal’s Arts Leadership Program, working closely with our partners, members, and communities across the state to advance our arts initiatives.

We asked Bruce to talk with us about his passion for arts education and the Program Director position:

1.  What inspires your passion around arts education?

My passion for arts education is inspired by my own upbringing including my involvement with band, drama, and other artistic experiences. The sense of community is what I remember and cherish most from those years. Sparking kids’ interests and enhancing lives are the things I went into education to do. When I became a teacher, I found that by incorporating theater and creativity in my teaching, the kids not only developed a stronger connection to school, but they were engaged in the lessons, enjoyed learning, and gained a deeper understanding of concepts.

2.  What excites you about ArtsEd Washington?

My first day with the organization was also the first meeting of the year for the Principal Arts Leadership Program (PAL) at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. I am thrilled to be in the position to oversee this incredible program! Some of the things that excited me were:

  • Meeting and beginning to work with the principals and their assembled arts teams from schools from around the Puget Sound.
  • Hearing PAL alums and mentors describe the transformation that took place at their schools.
  • Having the teams who are starting the program envision what they want for their students and their schools through more robust arts education.

3.  What do you hope to bring to the position and the organization?

I hope that my experience as a former teacher will bring valuable perspectives to the mission of ArtsEd Washington. Having worked in the classroom, I understand the workload and expectations and appreciate some of the challenges to making the arts an integral part of the school day. It is important to have this perspective in order to work in partnership with principals and teachers.

4.  How does your involvement in the local arts community motivate your work?

In the 90’s, I moved to Seattle for the vibrant theater scene. As an audience member and a practitioner, it has been a constant part of my life. That personal experience with art- feeling empathy, gaining understanding, being entertained – thanks to the arts community here in Seattle – motivates my work and passion for the arts and arts education. My personal passions impact my professional life, and in my work I am dedicated to the pursuit of fostering more experiences with art in our communities, as well as ensuring that the arts are provided to students as part of a core component of their school day curriculum.

5.  Why do you think arts education is important to students?

When students participate in the arts at school, they are not only more engaged in their learning, their minds are opening through multiple channels. Through arts education students are developing in their critical thinking, creativity, and innovation – skills and attributes that cannot be replicated through other experiences.

Bruce Hall is the new Program Director for ArtsEd Washington. He lives in the lower Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle, WA. His passion for arts education is rooted in his background as both a teacher and theater artist.  Bruce is also a youth advisor at University Unitarian Church and a longtime member of Annex Theatre. He enjoys board games, playing the piano and making and eating guacamole.

Share your inspirational arts education or arts advocacy story! Where have you see the arts change outcomes for a student? How has your personal engagement made a difference in a policy or budget issue? What arts teacher changed your life? Let us know. Your submission may be selected for a future Take 5 member profile.

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    • ArtsEd Washington Presents PAL Success at National Title I Conference

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      2014: At the National Title I Conference in San Diego in early February, ArtsEd Washington presented on using the arts to improve student and school success with a panel of principals who used ArtsEd Washington’s Principals Arts Leadership (PAL) program to transform their own Title I schools. The Title I program aims to bridge the achievement gap between low-income students and other students by providing supplemental federal funding to underachieving schools to meet the needs of at-risk students.

      Three principals shared their experiences working with the PAL program in Title I schools including Tracye Ferguson (formerly of Franklin Elementary and now Director of Title I/Early Learning for Tacoma Public Schools), Alan Matsumoto (Garfield Elementary in Yakima), and Farah Thaxton (formerly of Madrona K-8 in Seattle). ArtsEd Washington Executive Director Una McAlinden moderated the panel as they offered their leadership perspective and insights on how arts learning and specifically the PAL program has helped them improve their schools and can impact students and schools statewide. The session was introduced with pride by Gayle Pauley, Title I Director of Washington’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

      “Integrating arts education strategies in reading, mathematics, and the sciences is having a positive impact on the achievement of students who are struggling academically. Title I, Part A programs are demonstrating how this integration has a positive impact on student achievement,” said Pauley. “I am a musician myself and know first-hand the impact arts education has on student success.”

      Like many other schools across Washington State, Garfield, Madrona, and Franklin have used the PAL program to grow their arts capacities, impacting overall academic success, school culture, and student/family engagement. The panel shared their experiences in building effective arts plans, visions, and real world tactics to turn their schools into vibrant, successful places for their students to engage and learn. The session also covered tangible strategies to advance this instructional change and demonstrated a simple infrastructure for team-building, vision development, and planning for student success.

      “Including the arts in the school day improves student engagement, academic achievement, attendance, graduation rates, and overall success,” commented McAlinden. “The fact that our session was chosen for this national conference demonstrates the growing understanding among education leaders that the arts are a path to both student and school success.”

      The goal of the PAL program is to empower schools to create the fundamental systemic change that will ensure that the arts play a vital role in a complete education for all students, now and for years to come. PAL trains principals, as instructional leaders in all areas of curriculum, to expand their own capacities in arts leadership, to develop arts teams, visions, and plans, and to implement concrete strategies to integrate and sustain arts instruction for every student in every school.

      Thaxton’s experience at Madrona K-8, where more than three quarters of the students fall below the poverty line, demonstrated the remarkable impact of arts learning.  Citing more confident, engaged, and perseverant students at Madrona (which had limited arts offerings before she began work with the PAL program), Thaxton observes that the climate and culture of the school were transformed by the arts. She also sings the praises of the professional development she received through the program.

      Notes Thaxton, “It was one of the most focused professional development experiences I’ve had as a principal. PAL brought everybody’s voice together and was a key strategy in our success.”

      ArtsEd Washington is currently in the process of revamping the PAL program to be implemented at a district-wide level instead of the slower school-by-school approach. As part of the Creative Advantage, Seattle Public Schools has just begun implementation of PAL in its Central Pathway and will continue rollout to the whole district over the next few years.

      For more information, call 206-441-4501 or email office@artsedwashington.org