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A Letter To Our Community During COVID-19

April 14th, 2020 by Ryn McCoy

At a time when we’re experiencing significant changes to our day-to-day lives, The Right Brain Initiative has also undergone some changes. Below are answers to many of the frequently asked questions we’ve received in recent weeks.

What is The Right Brain Initiative doing while schools are closed?

The Right Brain Initiative has always held the vision of transforming learning for all children through creativity, innovation and whole-brain thinking by bringing the arts into the classroom. We are working to continue to do this at a time when classrooms are closed and while we navigate the management transition of the program.

At this unprecedented time for students, we are engaging with The Right Brain Initiative teaching artists to promote their independent distance learning opportunities to families in our community. The arts are a powerful learning tool in the classroom, but also a powerful tool for young people to heal, connect, process, and find joy. We think we could all use a lot of that right now.

It’s a temporary difference from the well-honed arts integration model of The Right Brain Initiative, and we want to assure you that we have no plans to change the program once schools reopen. In the meantime, we are pivoting to supporting students at home, and are doing all we can to help teaching artists bring their important work online. One school is even exploring how to bring the arts-integrated residency they planned to an online environment.

You may notice that recently we’ve begun sharing different offerings from teaching artists and activities from The Right Brain Initiative’s Brain Food card deck on our various social media channels. Our hope is that while students are learning at home, families and teachers have a trusted resource to turn to so they can access all the magic and joy the arts have to offer.

Who is managing The Right Brain Initiative?

You may have seen the media and email announcements regarding management of The Right Brain Initiative transferring from the Regional Arts & Culture Council to Young Audiences of Oregon & SW Washington.

Young Audiences is an arts education organization that has served the region since 1958, and we have been the implementation partner of The Right Brain Initiative program since its inception twelve years ago. Our mission is to inspire young people and expand their learning through the arts.

Our services help teachers find, plan, and even fund the artist residencies, workshops, and performances that meet their needs. We also support the artistic community by helping the teaching artists on our roster connect to schools, providing professional development to artists to ensure quality arts learning experiences for students, and working with various arts organizations to bring their offerings to young people.

Young Audiences artist programs are offered in a wide variety of modalities to meet the needs of our community’s schools. Some of our programs focus on teaching artistic skills or delighting young people with interactive performances, while others focus on connecting the arts to core subjects through arts integration.

How does The Right Brain Initiative program fit into Young Audiences?

The Right Brain Initiative aligns seamlessly with the Young Audiences mission, and we are eager to see this program continue to flourish here. While most transitions encounter some difficulties, Young Audiences’ background as an implementation partner in the program over the last twelve years has made this transition relatively smooth for schools, teachers, artists, and most importantly, students. We have no plans for major changes to The Right Brain Initiative. The program will continue to focus on arts integration, provide professional development and modeling for educators, incorporate classroom artist residencies, and implement reflection and research to gain insights into student learning.

What experience does the Young Audiences staff have with arts integration?

Our staff has extensive experience implementing arts integration programs in local schools. The Right Brain Initiative Director Kim Strelchun has been involved in the program since it was launched in 2008, and she is joined by arts integration coaches Ryan Higa and Rachel Goodloomis, who both have experience working in the arts and as classroom teachers.

Additionally, for five years Young Audiences implemented the arts integration program called Arts for Learning in the Beaverton School District, supported by a prestigious $5 million Investing in Innovation grant from the US Department of Education. This arts integration program — that continues in classrooms across our region — focuses on increasing the literacy skills of third, fourth, and fifth graders, and was rigorously evaluated for effectiveness by the education evaluation company WestEd.

What’s happening with The Right Brain Initiative’s events such as Summer Symposium and SH/FT?

To ensure the excellent events that The Right Brain Initiative is known for continue to be unique and maintain their high quality, Young Audiences staff is taking the year 2020 to understand what goes into each event. Once restrictions on gatherings are lifted, we do plan to host a stakeholder meeting for the community that has supported and been a part of The Right Brain Initiative over the years.

Thank you for being a part of The Right Brain Initiative community and for your understanding and support in this time of uncertainty. We know that with such a wonderful community, we can use the power of the arts to not only carry us through, but also create something amazing along the way!

Thank you,
Lisa Harley
President, Board of Directors

   

Ryn McCoy