Arts education inspires creativity and innovation in every student who learns through the arts. Here are just a few highlights from the recent impact of Burbank Arts for All Foundation’s investments in the arts for the students, teachers and administration in BUSD!

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Thanks to your support, we are making a difference in the lives of Burbank’s public school students. Please enjoy the following stories of our impact!

George Washington Elementary School | Funded Fall 2015

To provide the TK and Kindergarten students with opportunities to explore painting while exercising their fine and large gross motor skills, Washington Elementary purchased easels that accommodate 6-8 students at any given time. By being portable and allowing a large number of students to paint at once, the easels are able to be used on a daily and weekly basis.  According to Principal Brandi Young, “Students have ample opportunities to use their creativity and exercise their fine and large motor skills. It’s great when I walk the campus and I see students painting. I love the opportunities they get each week.”

Walt Disney Elementary School | Funded Spring 2016

In partnership with Principal Molly Hwang, Disney Elementary’s Arts Committee unanimously agreed to focus on expanding the visual arts at their school site. The resulting program was “Disney Dreams,” which fulfilled their vision of making art a part of their students’ daily lives, ensuring that students are comfortable, capable, and find joy in creating, as well as expanding the teachers’ abilities to teach art in the classroom.

The school brought in teaching artist and Disney Elementary parent, Jen C. Klein, to provide scheduled workshops for all students in grades Kindergarten through 5th grade – as well as professional development opportunities for teachers – in the areas of ceramics, watercolor painting, drawing, and animation. In addition, “Art Boxes” were assembled, containing a variety of art supplies for classroom teachers to use.

According to Ms. Klein, “changes in attitude towards making art amongst students was extremely noticeable. Students had great enthusiasm for art time. All students participated. I have seen some children that were inhibited last year bloom into great artists. Also a great success is the willingness of the teachers to make art on their own time. After each session I saw and heard reports of many teacher-led projects, some curriculum integrated and some just free art time. IN teacher PD I give the same message as with the students: ‘Process not Product,’ and it’s the experience that’s important. They don’t need to be ‘artists’ to give their students art time.”

Disney Dreams Collage2

John Burroughs High School | Funded Spring 2017

JBHS Dance Teacher, Emily Pierce, applied for a Foundation grant to fund the purchase of costume pieces for JBHS’s Spring 2017 Spring Dance Show, entitled “Spring into the Movies.” These costumes were used by the Dance 2 and Dance Production classes, enhancing their overall performance in class and onstage. According to Ms. Pierce, it “creates a team and a more professional program when classes are in uniform. Dance Production was able to create a 20 minute piece and looked like a professional dance company!”

“On behalf of John Burroughs Dance Department I would like to thank you for kindly providing us costumes for our dance show. We truly appreciate your continuous support and your very generous donation, your contributions helps us feel more professional while performing on stage. Without your involvement and generosity, we would not be able to aim high and reach our potential.”
-Ashley G., John Burroughs High School Dance Student

Burbank High School | Funded Fall 2016

In Fall 2106, the Burbank High instrumental music program was awarded a Foundation grant for the purchase of a high-quality hybrid piano to enhance the instrumental music curriculum and take their students’ learning to the next level. Along with matching funds from the BHS IMA Boosters, they acquired a Casio Hybrid Piano GP300, allowing all instrumental music students to experience high-quality acoustic sounds and other technological features in both the classroom and concert settings. Once they started using the Hybrid Piano, the AP Music Theory students were able to connect the Hybrid Piano to the school’s Music Computer Lab to make their learning and composing faster and easier. Some of these students are now leading the AP Music Class on their own with the instructional skills they gained from the piano’s use.

photo edited

“A piano magically creates a sense of unity, bringing together students, teachers, parents and community members for school concerts and performances…My son graduated Burbank High School this year. He played cello in String Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra. He is not going to be a professional musician, but I believe he gained positive effects through music education in academic performance, sense of community, self-expression and self-esteem.  I really appreciate Burbank Arts for All Foundation for its dedication to restoring music education and raising awareness about the importance of music as part of each student’s complete education.”
-Keiko Parrott, BHS Alumni Parent & Former IMA Booster Parent

Bret Harte Elementary School | Funded Fall 2016

In Fall 2016,  Bret Harte applied for a Foundation grant in order to help them acquire an additional dance mirror to accommodate their growing Dance program. The additional dance mirror allows students to watch themselves as they learn dance techniques, to ensure that they are doing their movements correctly. Students are also able to build upon their abilities to persevere and put forth effort necessary to succeed. This was the Foundation’s second investment in the school’s dance program, as they had previously received a grant to purchase dance barres and mirrors to enhance students’ dance instruction in Spring 2016.

“[The dance lessons] are transferable to the classroom. While the student is trained in grit through dance, that same grit can be carried into writing assignments, multi-step math equations and more. Classroom teachers, after enjoying teaching their lessons through dance, can daily see those character traits and increased work habits having a positive impact on student learning.” -Matthew Gilpin, Curriculum Specialist

George Washington Elementary School | Funded Spring 2015

George Washington Elementary uses their garden space for a variety of purposes. In Spring 2014, the Foundation funded the building of a stage in the garden, creating a designated amphitheater space for teachers to deliver lessons and for students to give performances and presentations to their peers and parents. To make the space more accommodating, teacher Beth Morgan saw a need for seating to view, and submitted a grant request to the Foundation for benches to be added to the space, better allowing parents and students to view performances, poetry readings, and other presentations on the stage.

Joaquin Miller Elementary School | Funded Fall 2016

To develop their students’ creative expression in the areas of storytelling, visual art, and acting, teachers Debbie Winstein and Jennifer Griffith brought in a theatre teaching artist to work with their classrooms on performance technique.

Ms. Winstein’s Kindergarten class applied their new theatre skills to their study of penguins, adapting the book Penguin Problems into a play. The students performed onstage with full costumes, sets, and lighting for a full audience of family and community members. The Kindergarten students learned to take direction and apply it to their performances. Adding theatre to enhance the lessons on penguins kept students excited and engaged – one boy even decided that the study of penguins in Antarctica will be his life’s work!

Debbie Winstein Letter

Ms. Griffith’s 1st Grade class used what they learned about theatre and acting to write and perform a collection of original stories about their time in 1st grade. They performed their stories for a live audience out on the Copeland Courtyard on the Miller campus. Through this process, the students were able to apply what they learned about acting to reach the finished product. Ms. Griffith shared “that even a 2-minute scene is impactful when they have owned it from beginning to end.”

Jennifer Griffith Letter

R.L. Stevenson Elementary School | Funded Spring 2014

Artist Henry Goods worked with Stevenson Elementary students, teachers, and parents to create a mural based on R.L, Stevenson’s novel, Treasure Island. After reading the book, students brainstormed ideas and completed sketches of their ideas for the mural, which were given to Mr. Goods for his finished sketch. The mural was school-wide effort, with every student participating in painting the walls, directed by Mr. Goods and parent volunteers. The completed mural not only beautified the school’s campus, but also allowed teachers to incorporate math equations, social studies, natural science, and art discussions during and after its creation to deepen students’ learning!


Thomas Edison Elementary School | Funded Spring 2016

Partnering with Edison Elementary Principal Laura Flosi and Curriculum Specialist Arlene Zenian, teaching artist and parent Mary Damiani provided three cartooning workshops to each Kindergarten through 5th grade class at the school. Through the workshops, students developed foundational skills in drawing cartoons in a no-pressure and fun environment. Students were able to discover that they are ALL artists, regardless of skill level, and created an array of masterpieces that were displayed in a gallery during the school’s Open House night.

wall at open house

“The students not only learned to look at elements of art and drawing through Cartoons, they felt free to express themselves in their drawings. Cartooning became more than just doodles on a page. Students learned that with practice and persistence people can have a profession in the field of cartooning. My class was always so excited about each cartooning day. Needless to say, my students became exceptional at creating and drawing characters and this transferred to other academic areas such as seeing details of pictures while reading informational texts. The students have learned to be much more observant of details in their reading and writing as well.”
-David Engel, 5th Grade Teacher

Thomas Jefferson Elementary School | Funded Fall 2016

Over the years, Jefferson Elementary has built a robust clay program,  often seen as a model program for other school sites. Each grade level creates 1-2 kiln-fired clay projects during the school year, resulting in over 1,300 total ceramic pieces that need to be fired twice each in the kiln. Due to this high-volume, Jefferson found its kiln slowing down with use and age.  With funds from a Foundation grant, the Jefferson PTA, and the school site, Jefferson was able to purchase a brand new kiln!


“Our ceramics program creates the opportunity to explore a variety of art concepts while integrating the learning of other subjects. The projects are designed to align with VAPA and Common Core Standards and are a prime example of how students retain far more through kinesthetic learning. This process encourages artistic expression in a medium that they don’t otherwise have the opportunity to work with, while aiding in the development of coordination of both fine and gross motor skills.”
-Sandra DeBarros, Principal

William McKinley Elementary School | Funded Fall 2016


On a Monday in May 2016, every grade (Transitional Kindergarten through 5th Grade) at McKinley Elementary rotated through a drum circle activity, organized through REMO Drums and facilitated by teaching artist, Chris Ramierez. Each grade was led through pattern, rhythm, and music experiences that were grade appropriate. 4th and 5th grade students focused on patterns, working as a tem within small groups to maintain their patterns and then brought their patterns together as a class. 2nd and 3rd grade students used the same idea, but were introduced to the concepts in a more simplified manner, using syllables. TK, Kindergarten, and 1st grade students worked with simple patterns to learn through the use of the drum equipment.

Mr. Ramierez adapted every session to the students in each class, including those in the school’s Special Education program, who were mainstreamed during the drum circle. This allowed these students to engage in the rhythm and music along with everyone else and even lead the circle. Additionally, Mr. Ramierez was bilingual and led the Dual-Immersion Kindergarten class in Spanish.

The students truly enjoyed the drum circle experience, and were able to make the connections between what they learned during the workshops to what they are learning in their general music classes. Teachers loved that their students had such a wonderful time in the workshops and appreciated that this new knowledge directly correlates to other subjects, such as in identifying math patterns!

“Isabel, a student in our Special Education program, participated in the drum circle alongside her peers. As our facilitator noticed Isabel’s engagement, he encouraged her to come forward and lead the group by creating the rhythm for the rest to mimic. Isabel not only immersed herself in the experience, but also created intricate patterns that surprised even the facilitator. Isabel’s teacher commented that she had never before seen this side of Isabel and was so excited to have had the experience to bring it out in her.”

David Starr Jordan Middle School | Funded Spring 2015

In Spring 2015, Dr. John Whitener, Band Director at Jordan Middle School, requested matching funds to help him and the school’s Instrumental Music Association (IMA) acquire 2 new flutes, 3 new clarinets, and a new trumpet. In using these new instruments, Dr. Whitener discovered increased motivation and excitement from his students. The new instruments ensure student success, with all students performing at or above grade level.

Luther Burbank Middle School Funded | Fall 2016 & Spring 2017


David Starr Jordan Middle School | Funded Fall 2015

Combining funds raised by the Jordan IMA with funds from a Foundation grant, Jordan Middle School was able to purchase a new Double Horn for their growing band program. The new Double Horn has greatly enhanced the abilities of the band’s Horn Section, guaranteeing that the students are successful in their playing skills. According to Band Director Dr. John Whitener, the most successful part of the project was “opening the box and handing the new instrument to our horn players!”