Facilitators announced for our Arts Education & Social Justice Institute

We are excited to announce that Roberto Ascalon, Lara Davis, Diana Falchuck, and Tina LaPadula will be facilitating our Arts Education & Social Justice Institute on October 4th & 5th. This dynamic group will lead participants through exercises to identify, unpack and challenge manifestations of institutional racism, sexism, heterosexism and adultism in the classroom and beyond. Read more about the institute here.


ascalon_smNYC-born Roberto Ascalon is a poet, writer, arts educator, and spoken-word performance artist who lives in the historic Youngstown/Cooper School in West Seattle. Roberto uses his love for the craft of poetry to transform the world that surrounds him. He connects with audiences via universal narratives that encompass topics like racism, first kisses, love, family, and Spam.

Roberto has taught for The Hugo House, Arts Corps, Youthspeaks, and Seattle Arts and Lectures. His writing has appeared in Seattle Poetry on Buses and National Poetry Slam Anthology. He has also been on two Seattle National Poetry Slam teams and is an integral part of the Seattle spoken-word community. Most recently, Roberto won the 2013 Rattle Poetry Prize. His poem was chosen from over 8,000 poems and will be published in the winter issue of Rattle.


lara-davisLara Davis is the arts education specialist for the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, a new position that builds capacity for arts education efforts. Lara will help align the work of Seattle Public Schools and community partners through Seattle’s city-wide K-12 arts plan (The Creative Advantage), a comprehensive strategy for closing the access gap in arts learning.

Lara has been active in youth development and community arts education for more than a decade. She has served as a Seattle Arts Commissioner and is the former program director for Arts Corps, an award winning Seattle-based youth arts organization. Lara facilitates race and social justice trainings for teaching artists and youth workers, local arts groups and at national conferences. As an artist and administrator, she knows firsthand the power of creativity necessary to foster engagement, transform communities and inspire systemic change.


CAT117_APod_2_Arts7Diana Falchuck is a national consultant, facilitator, educator and practicing artist with 13 years experience developing and leading community-centered programming, policy and trainings. Her expertise includes designing and facilitating trainings on oppression and cultural competency, and managing partnerships between community organizations and government that use hands-on, creative channels to achieve equity and provide alternatives to incarceration. Diana has a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Washington where she trained as an Intergroup Dialogue Facilitator. In addition to her consulting practice, Diana works as Outreach Specialist with the City of Seattle Office for Civil Rights/Race and Social Justice Initiative, through which she is designing and managing a multi-sector, regional education campaign to build public will for racial equity, in partnership with Pacific Science Center and numerous community and for-profit organizations.


Arts CorpsTina LaPadula is a teaching artist and one of the founders of Arts Corps, where she is currently serving as the Education Director.  Her commitment to emergent curriculum, art for social change and student-centered assessment, helped shape the Arts Corps philosophy. Tina has performed for theatre, film and television in Seattle, New York, London, and Pennsylvania and has taught theatre, performance and storytelling at Centrum Arts, Power of Hope, A Contemporary Theatre, and Seattle Children’s Theatre. She has facilitated experiential learning courses called “Making Student Learning Visible” through the University of Washington’s Pipeline Project, and regularly leads workshops on equity, the power of arts learning, and creative habits for the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, Seattle Public Schools, School’s Out WA and various national conferences. Tina is board chair for the Association of Teaching Artists and co-founder of the Seattle Teaching Artist Network.  She serves on Seattle Public Schools’ strategic vision team for the arts, as well as Service Learning Seattle. She credits her early work at the YWCA for teaching her the fundamentals of youth care and illuminating the need for quality arts experiences for all young people.


Registration for the institute is now open. Go here to register.

For more information, please contact info@artscorps.org.

The Social Justice and Arts Education Institute is the result of three years of Arts Corps’ work of providing racial justice and anti-oppression leadership (via consultations and workshop facilitation) in the fields of the arts, youth development, and education.

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From service missions to fieldtrips of service

A story from the MusicianCorps pilot year.

Before the pilot year began, the MusicianCorps Seattle Fellows worked with Tina LaPadula to write missions statements.  Tina LaPadula is Arts Corps’ Education Director and the MusicianCorps Team Lead, and led the MusicianCorps team through the pilot year.

Tina LaPadula, Arts Corps Education Director, with the MusicianCorps Seattle Team

In guiding the Fellows to write their mission statements, Tina sought to practically match the goals of each site to the goals and skills of the Fellows.

“That’s a creative challenge in this work,” LaPadula said. “Without the right intention and time paid to those intentions, the best ideas and the best dreams and hopes of a program or a school or community will not be met.”

LaPadula continued: “This year – taking ten years of Arts Corps learning of how to place the right person in the right spot and facilitate that relationship well – we took it further [with MusicianCorps] in that now we have teaching artists for a longer time in this community. How can we make a program that takes advantage of this person and their best skills and the need at this site? We’ve been more intentional so that expectations can be realistic and be met, so that everyone’s hopes and dreams can be aligned, and be both practical and idealistic.”

MusicianCorps Fellow Aaron Walker-Loud provides one example of the power of service missions matched to service sites. During the pilot year, Aaron worked with a cluster of schools and groups in Seattle’s Central District neighborhood: Washington Middle School, Leschi and Bailey Gatzert Elementary Schools, Garfield High School, and Seattle Music Partners.   Aaron grew up in the neighborhood where he worked during the pilot year, and attended many of the schools in his MusicianCorps placement.  Given his background, and after meeting with his site partners, Aaron created his MusicianCorps mission statement, as follows:

“Engage more low income youth and youth of color in district music programs, through a supportive pipeline of drumline classes after school, and in the school day workshops and ensembles at Washington Middle school and feeder Elementary schools. … Strengthen the collaboration among music specialists, musicians and service programs in Seattle’s Central District school cluster.”

(Read each Fellow’s mission statement here).

MusicianCorps Fellow Aaron Walker-Loud with students

Aaron’s mission directly influenced his MusicianCorps work, both within and outside of the classroom. One idea Aaron had was to take elementary students – many of whom had not yet played any instruments – on a fieldtrip to music programs at Washington Middle School, where many of them will attend.

A student's flashcard from the Leschi fieldtrip

The fieldtrip was a powerful exercise in collaborations, connections, and imagining possibilities. [Read more about the fieldtrip here]. Chaperoned by the MusicianCorps Team (Tina, Aaron and the other Fellows, and myself) and the team from Seattle Music Partners, students from Leschi Elementary Schools toured Washington Middle School’s music classes and interviewed the band and orchestra teachers and students. As chaperones, we each shared our own experiences with middle school and the arts. We also interviewed the students about their music background, and how the field trip influenced their wishes for middle school. Here are some responses:

“I think it helpful because on the first day (of middle school) I thought I would be scared, but I wasn’t. I can handle it and not be scared on the first day of school.”

“I don’t play an instrument but I plan to play an instrument, the drums. [The fieldtrip] helped me to see what it would be like, see kids their attitudes, how you can make friends.”

“It was helpful to see how the class works and to get the answers out of actual middle school students … for the future, to have the chance to get to feel the transitions from elementary music to middle school music. It was helpful to get a feel for middle school and to actually see what it feels like.”

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