Santa Monica, Calif. After weeks of learning rhythm and movement, acting and singing, and several mediums of visual arts, students in transitional kindergarten through second grade at five Santa Monica-Malibu Unified elementary schools will showcase what they’ve learned in a special “informance,” an integrative learning experience for both parents and their children.

“Instead of a typical performance or recital for the final class, these events bring parents into the classroom, while allowing the student to teach and practice what he or she has learned throughout the course,” said Superintendent Sandra Lyon. “Studies have shown that student success not only increases dramatically with parent engagement, but also when a student can comfortably and effectively demonstrate what’s been taught.”

This new comprehensive visual and performing arts program is part of SMMUSD’s Vision for Student Success – a District-wide initiative launched this year primarily funded by the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation (SMMEF), the District’s non-profit partner. Students participate in either a rotational model of 10 or 15 weeks of visual arts, theater or music class or 30 weeks of a single discipline arts instruction each year, with individual school sites having the discretion to implement the programming, model and discipline.

The arts program, now active at all 11 elementary schools, builds students’ advanced problem-solving and critical thinking skills, while sparking imagination, creative potential and emphasizing the value of teamwork.

With the support of the District, SMMEF partnered with P.S. ARTS on the expansion to ensure all students receive high-quality performing and/or visual arts instruction each year from transitional kindergarten through the fifth-grade. The Foundation is also funding cutting-edge professional development, student enrichment and academic support programs for all SMMUSD schools.

“We are so grateful our community’s donations to support P.S. ARTS education for all elementary schools in Santa Monica and Malibu,” said Executive Director of SMMEF, Linda Greenberg Gross. “We truly believe these art programs provide for educational equality, leveling the educational playing field by teaching creative and cognitive skills to students of all backgrounds.”

With the conclusion of the first rotation of classes, students at Point Dume, Webster, Roosevelt, Grant and Franklin elementary schools who have completed visual arts, theater and music classes will be showing their parents rhythms, songs, theater scenes or artwork they’ve learned or created. Parents will then join their children in the classroom to participate and experience the arts together.

“P.S. ARTS is thrilled to be active at all elementary schools in the District as teaching our students, parents and community about the value of art programs, especially at a young age, ensures we equip all students with the capacity to be successful in the future,” said P.S. ARTS Executive Director of Education & Programs, Kristen Paglia.

P.S. ARTS is a local organization, serving more than 20,000 students in 10 school districts throughout Central and Southern California, employs qualified and professional teaching artists who visit each school site, teaching and adapting their own curriculum to the artistic model and discipline selected by the principal and faculty. After culmination of the program, the teaching artists moves to another site, ensuring that all students receive high-quality art instruction.

Photo Captions:

Franklin Informance1: Phoebe Benun (center), a second grader at Franklin Elementary, poses and smiles with her parents, Sue and Robert Benun, after Christina Garden’s second grade class held a theatrical informance in front of parents on Nov. 13.

Franklin Informance2: At Franklin Elementary, Christina Garden’s second grade class gather with their teaching artist, Andrea Shreeman, for their final theatrical informance, in front of parents on Nov. 13.