A conversation w/ Mr. Keith Irish, South San Francisco Unified School District's Asst. Supperintendent Educational Servicess

Recently, we sat down with Keith Irish, Asst. Superintendent of the South San Francisco Unified School District, to talk about our powerful approach to arts learning.

Q) How does arts education contribute to academic success in your district? 

KI) Our partnership with Young Audiences has a strong impact on students' academic, social, and emotional outcomes. When schools provide a broad course of study that includes the arts, it leads to a more optimal school climate and empowers students with a greater sense of purpose and ownership. It can also lead to a better understanding of the individual, and we see that many students that have participated in YANC programs have greater confidence in themselves and among other students.

Q) What specific need motivated your District to partner with Young Audiences of Northern California?

KI) We have an award winning STEM (Science Technology, Engineering, Math) program and wanted to make it STEAM. Arts were our missing component. We partnered with Young Audiences of Northern California to build this STEAM program for grades three through eight. 

Our students, staff and parents have raved about the STEAM Program, in particular its arts integration component. Over the five our years that we have partnered with YANC, we've had African Textile Block Printing, drawing, painting, street graffiti art, break dancing, hip hop, dancing, puppet theater, taiko drumming, and stop animation. Teaching artists have incorporated cultural activities as well, which has been beneficial for our community and our district.

 Q) What kind of outcomes have been achieved?

KI) Our partnership has exceeded expectations and provided many positive outcomes for the District and our students. This partnership is vital to South San Francisco in implementing State Arts Standards into our K-12 classrooms. It supports our vision statement to provide all students with a broad course of study, with relevant learning experiences, and opportunities for them to explore and cultivate innovation and collaboration with peers.

Our students can now better embrace different perspectives and ideals. This partnership also assists us in showing teachers the different ways we can integrate arts into our instruction and curriculum, especially at the elementary grade level.

Thank you, Mr. Irish, for your partnership and passionate support for arts access!