We Right Brainers would like to celebrate seven new team members! Some were hired through Regional Arts & Culture Council, our managing partner, and some were hired through Young Audiences, our implementation partner. In a word, they’re phenomenal. Each person is an artist and an educator in their own right. They are united by their desire to weave the arts into the curriculum of the Portland area’s public schools, and by their belief that the arts impart whole-brain benefits to children — not only as students but also as human beings.
Phoebe Ebright, Development Manager (Regional Arts & Culture Council)
Phoebe’s role at Right Brain is to oversee our annual private fundraising plan. Previously, she served as Director of Development as well as Director of Events and Marketing for the Oregon chapter of Junior Achievement. She was also a Community Relationship/Volunteer Manager for the American Cancer Society. With a degree in sociology and fine art from Linfield College, Phoebe understands the social impact of the arts, and is thrilled to return to arts administration. She connects Right Brain’s deeply transformative education for children, and her early work teaching juvenile offenders. She notes, “The arts provide a voice for young people,” and “if given even the slightest encouragement, [they] have been able to go on to achieve really incredible things.”
Maya McFaddin, Program Assistant (Regional Arts & Culture Council)
Maya assists with planning and organizing events, committee meetings, and professional development sessions for teachers and teaching artists. She began interning with Right Brain in May 2014 as our Outreach Apprentice. As a former intern for internationally renowned architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, with degrees in Studio Art from Willamette University, and Graphic Design from Portland State University, Maya has impressive artistic and administrative capabilities. As a former migrant summer school teaching assistant, she perfected her skills as a Spanish speaker. Yet her deepest pleasure is “hearing kids tell their stories about learning in the arts.” She is struck by children’s capacity to “find connections between art forms, classroom content, and something they did that weekend.”
Sinéad Kimbrell, Program Manager (Regional Arts & Culture Council)
Sinéad oversees our school program to make sure it is working to its highest capacity, for the benefit of educators, stakeholders and students. Educated in dance at Ohio University, Sinéad became a teaching artist for Oregon Ballet Theatre, then Managing Director for The Obo Addy Legacy Project. In the late-2000s, she moved to Chicago and served as the Associate Director of Education for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. While in the Midwest, she acquired a Master of Arts in Education (Curriculum and Instruction) from Governors State University, and published in The Teaching Artist Journal. Now, in her return to Portland, Sinéad will measure student gains working with arts strategies starting as they enter school: “The challenge will continue to be all art forms for all students.”
Kim Strelchun, Arts Integration Coach (Young Audiences)
Kim, a six-year Right Brain Parent Advocate and volunteer, has transitioned as a coach and site coordinator for our partnering schools in the Estacada, Portland, and Gresham-Barlow districts. With fifteen years of education advocacy experience, she is a current Hillsboro School Board Member, former Hillsboro PTA President, and previous Parent Director at Creative Children’s Center. Utilizing her combined Bachelor in Social Sciences and Political Science from Portland State University, Kim not only advocates for the children in her community, but also assists parents as they speak up for their children. She knows, through firsthand observation, that Right Brain helps children “express their knowledge through the 100 different languages of art.”
Lin Lucas, Arts Integration Coach (Young Audiences)
Lin serves as an educator and resource to teachers and teaching artists at our partnering schools in Portland, Hillsboro, and Gresham-Barlow districts. He teaches and practices comics illustration and the Japanese dance form butoh. Since 1996, he has instructed Kindergarten through adult ages. Having served as Diversity Coordinator for Northwest School in Seattle, Lin led social justice trainings with the Seattle Race & Social Justice Initiative and Facing History and Ourselves. Now, he is a member of Portland’s African American arts collective, Brown Hall PDX, and an active graphic novelist depicting journalists who investigate mysteries and fight oppression. On that subject, he asserts: “Dismantling a social structure starts when individuals conduct deep self-assessments; arts education can offer subversive opportunities.”
Jamie Houghton, Arts Integration Coach (Young Audiences)
A published and practicing poet, musician, and performer, Jamie coaches Right Brain-affiliated schools in Corbett, Oregon Trail, and Hillsboro districts. Formerly she taught and coordinated creative writing workshops for the Museum at Warm Springs Indian Reservation, and Deer Ridge Correctional Institution in Bend, Oregon. She was also a teaching artist at The Shepherd’s House habilitation center. She learned that a receptive, comfortable learning space encourages “children and adults to take risks and surprise themselves and each other.” Through a 2014 Artist Fellowship Residency at PLAYA in Summer Lake, Oregon, Jamie spent five weeks alone with her own writing and music. Now, through her collaborative project Dreamhouse, she will host readings and events in pursuit of strengthening community.
Amy Botula, Implementation Coordinator (Young Audiences)
While Amy is not new to Right Brain, her role has changed from Arts Integration Coach to Implementation Coordinator. She now provides support for Arts Integration Coaches and residency assistance for schools and teaching artists. She and our Program Implementation Manager oversee the teaching artist application process. A former Portland Public Schools teacher for sixteen years, Amy worked with second through twelfth graders. With a Master of Arts in Teaching at Lewis & Clark College, and Writing Program Certificate from the Independent Publishing Resource Center, Amy is also a published writer. In recent visits to Right Brain-integrated classrooms, she is “struck by how few differences there are between teens and young children — everyone wants to be heard and seen.”
If you would like to read about the entire Right Brain team, we have more information here! It is our belief that each advocate will keep the themes of The Right Brain Initiative — equity, excellence, expression, and collaboration — running strong.
Claire Bassett is our new Communications Apprentice for the winter and spring seasons of 2015. In equal spades she is an education advocate and an arts advocate, and she regards the mission of Right Brain — “to give every K-8 student in the region access to the arts regardless of neighborhood, language, or income” — as one of the most uplifting visions in our country’s arts education landscape. The value of The Right Brain Initiative’s programming is inherent, significant, and enduring — in her humble opinion.