SFUSD principals are learning more about the arts, too 

click to enlarge Principals Robert Broecker (Alvarado Elementary School), Eric Gutherz (Mission High School) and Kevin Kerr (Balboa High School) use a letterpress to create original broadsides at the Center for the Book during a recent workshop for the Principals for the Arts program. - COURTESY JULIO CESAR MARTINEZ/SFUSD
  • COURTESY Julio Cesar Martinez/SFUSD
  • Principals Robert Broecker (Alvarado Elementary School), Eric Gutherz (Mission High School) and Kevin Kerr (Balboa High School) use a letterpress to create original broadsides at the Center for the Book during a recent workshop for the Principals for the Arts program.

As a former music teacher, I have witnessed music's unique power to teach and inspire. While it is an essential part of educating our students, we're also making sure art is not just for kids.

Our team at the San Francisco Unified School District's Visual and Performing Arts Department saw a need to broaden principals' opportunities to explore the arts, both for the benefits it has for them as school leaders and the benefits it has for students who attend schools where principals are also artists.

Last school year, principals were onstage at SFJAZZ with local legend Linda Tillery and accompanied by musician and composer Marcus Shelby, singing their own songs and making their own moves, remembering the artist within.

Starting this school year, principals will have the opportunity to attend special evenings at the San Francisco Opera, American Conservatory Theater and San Francisco Ballet in addition to their ongoing invitations from the San Francisco Symphony and the Fine Arts Museums.

Called Principals for the Arts, this professional development series gives school leaders the opportunity to look at the world in new ways with a series of workshops at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, American Conservatory Theater, Center for the Book and San Francisco Film Society.

Through this program, our principals go beyond simply appreciating art; they get to experience what it feels like to make art happen.

Just the other day, I heard a principal describe class scheduling for a large school in terms of a design challenge. That's not only looking at it in a new way, but approaching a tough task with an artist's perspective.

The arts are alive and growing here in the SFUSD for our students and our principals. Thinking in new directions, viewing student scheduling as a design challenge, going deep into the heart of the arts in various venues — all these activities and more are part of the vision articulated in the Arts Master Plan, and San Francisco is the campus.

Richard A. Carranza is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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