Lesson Mixes Art With Science


By Amy Orr, Special to the Independent

Art teacher Bridget Beaudry-Porter returned school board members to elementary school this week, demonstrating the simple artistic techniques and terminology she used in a lesson when second graders visited the Ocean Institute in Dana Point earlier in the year.

As the children employed brushes, sponges, and paint, they simultaneously created colorful sea creatures and cemented the details they had learned. The multi-sensory project kept students focused, while the concurrent discussion of details increased their factual retention, she said.

Elementary students step into local history, learning how to paint in plein air.
Elementary students step into local history, learning how to paint in plein air.

During Tuesday’s board meeting, Beaudry-Porter explained the cohesive classroom policy in the district’s new Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) program. Beaudry-Porter spent the past year on special assignment reviewing and revising arts in the elementary schools. An LBHS art teacher since 2011, she was fearless in expanding the scope of school art.

She focused her efforts on visual arts projects, but said that next year she will expand and include more performing arts as well. This year, she worked with elementary school students and partnered with the Ocean Institute and the Laguna Art Museum, incorporating and integrating scientific field trip facts in the art project. She also coordinated with the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association. Using donated easels and canvases, fourth grade students painted landscapes out of doors, embracing the artist colony’s traditions, she said.

The VAPA program embodies the goals of Laguna’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), a goal-setting exercise to improve education through cross-curricular learning. Board member Ketta Brown said, “Bridget uses her academic knowledge to connect and embed art, and the need for it, in all curricula.”

The district’s LCAP, approved last June, stresses students’ college and career readiness, social and emotional strength, and student achievement. In March, Hanover Research conducted a survey of students, parents, and staff. Results are now available online.

During a study session, the four school principals detailed LCAP data and discussed its implications. The March survey showed that respondents support the district’s learning environment and its college preparation programs. Of the population, 93% expressed satisfaction with student access to technological tools, 91% agreed that district equipment was adequate for learning, 80% indicated enough Advanced Placement classes are offered, and 72% felt the district prepared students for college.

Satisfaction was lower in social and emotional wellness and career readiness. Only 63% of respondents were content with the level of social/emotional counseling, and just 53% felt prepared for a future career.

To address those concerns, Thurston Middle School Principal Jenny Salberg said she aimed to offer extra career talks and professional presentations on campus. LBHS Principal Christopher Herzfeld said the campus will increase career technical education credentialing and promote student exploration of employment sites such as California CareerZone.

In addition, LBHS will continue to support WorkAbility and Transition Partnership Programs. During the 2016-17 school year, 52 high school students were placed in paid workplace experiences, according to Cyndi Kimball, the transition services coordinator. At the meeting, Kimball and Chris Costley, the WorkAbility specialist, shared multiple stories of special needs students successfully partnering with local employers.

District-wide social and emotional concerns will receive professional oversight in July, when Dr. Michael Keller starts as director of social and emotional support. Dr. Keller, who was introduced at the meeting, will assess the district’s current support systems and develop a comprehensive program.



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