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!

For more stories about our impact, please click here!

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!

Thomas Edison Elementary School | Funded Fall 2017

To fill the gap in arts education curriculum at their school, the Edison Elementary community came together to develop the Edison Fine Arts Wheel, which was launched in the 2017-18 school year for all students, TK-5. Planned in collaboration between Principal Laura Flosi, parent leader Brenda Etterbeek, Curriculum Specialist Gretchen Gray, and a team of parent and artist volunteers, the Wheel provided students with a series of 6, 8, or 10 week rotations focused on different arts disciplines. One of the rotations for 3rd-5th grade students was a Woodworking workshop, for which Edison sought funding support from Burbank Arts for All Foundation. With the granted funds, they were able to bring in a teaching artist to lead the popular Woodworking rotation.

“The Edison Fine Art Wheel has been an incredible collaboration with students, teachers, staff, principal and parent volunteers.  The students at Edison are being inspired in all areas of fine arts and finding passion for hands on learning.  Our goal is to empower all students to develop and achieve their creative and expressive potential, while motivating students to instill lifelong involvement and appreciation for the arts.  Our first year was a success and our we are excited for the future of arts education at Edison.”
-Brenda Etterbeek, Thomas Edison Elementary PTA Arts Chair & Parent Volunteer

The Fine Arts Wheel rotations were structured to enhance Common Core curriculum, with several of the rotations highlighting real-world applications of mathematical or scientific theories taught in the classroom. For example, one 5th grade class tied the mathematical concepts reinforced by the woodworking rotation to a portion of the standardized state tests through hands-on learning. In addition, a 4th grade class was able to tie what they learned in woodworking to their study of the novel City of Ember. The Wheel not only enhanced other curriculum, but also “awakened an increased level of enthusiasm and energized outlooks toward art and its increasing power to deepen student learning both academically and in character-based developments, such as ownership of and pride in work, motivation, collaboration, and engagement.”

students working

“It’s been magical watching the Arts Wheel go from just conversation and dreams to seeing it in every classroom throughout the school year.  The way children shine when they find something new that they love or are great at is the reason we need to keep doing this.  It is inclusive of all children, English learners, GATE students, students with learning disabilities and even those shy or outgoing children.  Rotating through the wheel offers another dimension to our curriculum.  Can’t wait to see what next year will look like for Edison!!”
-Laura Flosi, Principal at Thomas Edison Elementary

Bret Harte Elementary School | Funded Spring 2017

Through a 5-week residency with Dramamaniacs, all students in grades K-5 at Bret Harte Elementary were able to learn through theatre training. Each week, they spent time “working on their speaking and presentation skills, as well as their understanding of narratives and scenes. [They also] spent time practicing how to control their voices, their bodies, and to directly communicate with the audience.” The theatre techniques learned directly impacted students’ work on presentations, group work, and in their ability to communicate their thoughts.

When discussing the impact of program, Bret Harte Curriculum Specialist, Matt Gilpin, stated:

“Beyond learning and practicing communication, students spent time crafting narratives, scenes, or fables. Discussions of story elements such as setting, protagonist, and antagonist were held, which were immediately carried back to the classroom. Students learned to create short scenes with a beginning , middle, and end. This was especially challenging during improvised scenes. The quick thinking needed for a successful improvised scene is imperative to classroom discussions when student responses and reactions drive the conversation. Additionally, we had 5 fifth grade hosts for this year’s Bret Harte Variety Show. Though there was a script for the act introductions, the students’ theatre practice and training was very clear. They delivered lines, knew how to address the audience, and could even improvise jokes based upon hiccups in the performance.”

Providencia Elementary School | Funded Fall 2017

Wanting to introduce their students to professional dance instruction, Providencia Elementary applied for a Foundation grant for an artist-in-residency program. Matched by funds from the Providencia PTA, the school was able to bring in a teaching artist from Garri Dance Studio to provide weekly dance instruction to every classroom. For six weeks, students learned “vocabulary unique to dance and directly related to their teacher’s lesson plans in either math, reading, and/or social studies, VAPA dance standards, and unique choreography tailored to suit each class, age, and ability level.” The program culminated in a Spring Dance presented to their parents, teachers, community members, and fellow students.

“This program affected all students at Providencia. Our students fervently applied themselves and were rewarded for their efforts. Instruction in the five VAPA standards gave our students a deeper understanding of visual and performing arts and indeed rekindled an appreciation for both dance and learning. Our goal was to inspire our children’s curiosity, encourage them to accept challenges, and strengthen their burgeoning growth mindset. We feel that the program met all of those goals. The most successful part of the project is that it provided our students with a new vehicle for self-expression. For some students, the program awakened a new desire to participate in the arts or embark on a journey of self-discovery.”
-Lesley Hornbeck & Kendra Heintz, Providencia PTA




Teacher Letter

BUSD Music Is Instrumental
District Wide | Funded Spring 2017 and Summer 2018

Burbank Unified School District has identified a need of $1.2 million to repair or replace broken musical instruments in their middle and high schools and, in the 2017-2018 school year, they set a district wide goal 4.4 to work with community partners to raise 10% of that need by the end of this school year, naming the year long campaign “Music Is Instrumental.” Led by BUSD, the “Music is Instrumental” campaign is a coordinated effort involving the Musicians at Play Foundation, Burbank Arts for All Foundation, the Los Angeles County Arts Education Collective, the Burbank Education Foundation, Burbank Music Academy, Music Junction, parents, IMA booster organizations, corporate, and small business partners to accomplish this goal.

In October 2017, Burbank Arts for All Foundation entered into an MOU agreement with BUSD to support their campaign in the areas of funding, communications, and community outreach and advocacy. The Foundation provided:

  • a $10,000 grant in October 2017 to benefit BUSD’s Music Is Instrumental campaign
  • hosted a Creative Circles Forum in March 2018 focused on the Business of the Music Industry
  • coordinated with BUSD on a shared communications plan to generate community awareness throughout the 2017-2018 school year
  • supported a community wide fundraising campaign, called 1,000 for $100, led by community leaders Linda Walmsley, Michael Cusumano, and Michael Hastings
  • secured a $20,000 matching grant to support the goal of the 1,000 for $100 campaign

Foundation MII support


R.L. Stevenson Elementary School | Funded Spring 2017

For the last seven years, all Stevenson Elementary students have participated in a 12-week Fall dance program facilitated by SODE School of the Performing Arts. This includes the school’s special education students, called the “Stepping Stones” students. To accommodate the Stepping Stones’ unique abilities, the teachers have found that additional dance instruction is necessary to help them “get more comfortable with basic dance principals, allows them the opportunity to explore dance and performances, and gives them time and space to find a connection between their body movement, drums and/or music.”

The Foundation has supported an additional 12 weeks of dance instruction for the Stepping Stones students through grants for three of the past seven years, as well as for the upcoming 2018-19 school year. This extension has given this special population the extra time needed to fully explore dance education.

Stevenson Special Education Teacher, Crystal Miron, shared some of the other ways this program benefits the Stepping Stones students and why it is important to continue to implement:

Teacher Letter EDITED2

David Starr Jordan Middle School | Funded Fall 2014

To actively engage her students in mathematics, Jordan Math Teacher, Crystal Bruza, took advantage of the school’s new STEAM Lab to pilot the integration of a screen printing machine into her curriculum. Students were first introduced to concepts of sales, discounts, markups, and taxes in their math intervention class. They then used these concepts in a real-world application, using the scenario of owning a t-shirt shop to solve problems.  A  software program was used to design t-shirts, and then they participated in a demonstration on how their designs would come to life. The project concluded with students each creating a t-shirt based on their designs.

Though the school faced issues in ordering the equipment and there was a long delay in acquiring and setting everything up, the project was a huge success once it was finally completed. It brought math to life for the students in a practical and fun way, teaching them how math concepts can be used outside of the classroom and engaging their creativity in applying and integrating art and design skills into math.


“The most successful part of this project was the level of engagement that my math intervention students had in a math lesson. My students were excited about math, a subject that was a source of agony for some of them. Seeing students work diligently to figure out price points, taxes, discounts, and markups was so wonderful. They asked questions. They worked together to figure things out. Some of them even expressed an interest in running their own business one day.”
-Crystal Bruza, 7th Grade Math Teacher

David Starr Jordan Middle School | Funded Fall 2017

A new skill was introduced to the students in Jordan Middle School’s CTE Play Production class, when lessons on stage makeup were added to their curriculum. Teacher Taia Perry purchased lockable makeup cases, mirrors, and application tools, in addition to a variety of makeup supplies to accommodate her culturally and creatively diverse students. The students learned techniques to properly apply the makeup, and were able to use their skills as they studied Commedia, a type of theatre that usually involves the use of masks. Using makeup instead of masks, the students designed and created their own stylized looks for their performance of the play Commedia Delight. While they were “unsure of the concept at first, after their first makeup seminar, they were more excited, and by the evening of performance, they fully understood the impact of the makeup and loved getting into character with their makeup on. They felt the makeup helped them get into character and increased their ability to be successful actors in the play.”

Makeup Collage

“During our first seminar, a male student who had never done makeup before and was originally very reluctant to participate, applied himself, did a great job, and came up to me afterwards, gave me a big hug (not his usual behavior) and said, ‘Thank you, Ms. Taia, this was a lot better than I thought it was gonna be. I had fun!!!’ This student was one of the more artistically successful in doing his own makeup for our play. As this young man is a dedicated actor, I believe that this experience has opened up a part of the art of acting that will serve him in all future endeavors.”
-Taia Perry, Play Production Teacher

John Burroughs High School | Funded Fall 2017

Microphones are essential to performing in a large auditorium, and the Performing Arts Programs at John Burroughs High School’s productions faced several sound difficulties with not having enough properly working equipment. In order to purchase two new microphones, a splitter, and the support electronics needed to operate them, the JBHS Drama Department contributed some of their own funds, as well as secured funding from the JBHS Vocal Music Department and the Burbank Arts for All Foundation.

The new microphones arrived in time for the Drama Department’s spring production of Grease. The two new mics “allowed two more people to be amplified full-time, easing the tech burden of trying to switch out microphones on the run mid-play.” The new mics were used by the actors playing Danny and Sandy, and “there wasn’t a bit of electrical interference or noise to detract from their fantastic performances as they sang their hearts out in front of record-breaking crowds.”

Students backstage also benefitted from the new mics. The technical theatre students “learned to work with professional quality microphones, how to put them on and take them off, operate them from the sound booth, mix the voices during the show on different songs, create a mic plot, and take care with fragile and expensive equipment that will be used for years to come.”


“Watching students work together to affix mics and take them off professionally shows respect for equipment and the process of theatre. It enhances the collaborative spirit and teaches them that every job in theatre is important, not just the actors. This expansion of our equipment with high quality mics and the new splitter will help our audiences to grow over the years as they see high quality theatre. Your generous grant has truly helped to amplify performing arts at John Burroughs High School and we are so grateful for your continued support of the JBHS Performing Arts Department.”
-Guy Myers, JBHS Drama Director

Burbank High School | Funded Fall 2017

In Spring of 2018, Burbank High presented its first musical in many years, mounting a full production of Little Shop of Horrors. To successfully accomplish bringing the production to life, funding support was needed, and the school turned to Burbank Arts for All Foundation for a grant to help pay for the rights to perform the show and give its students this unique opportunity otherwise unavailable to them.  Additional funding was raised through ticket sales, concessions, and program ads.

Not only did the students get to experience the process and impact of producing a musical theatre production, but they also were afforded the chance to  work with other performing arts disciplines. The show was a collaborative effort, bringing together the many talents of the school’s Drama, Music, and Dance departments, as well as the support of the Culinary Arts, Digital Media, and Visual Arts programs.  Students involved were able to learn to work together with those outside of their usual spheres to achieve a common goal. According to BHS Theatre Teacher, Donovan Glover, “The process was rife with laughter, creativity, kindness, good manners, and artistic support.”

Student Letter

Magnolia Park School | Funded Spring 2016

Magnolia Park School is a small campus, serving a population of students with special needs.  As there are no dedicated arts teachers on staff, the school turns to outside teaching artists to integrate the arts into the students’ curriculum. One of their most successful partnerships has been with visual artist Alvaro Asturias, who has done several artist-in-residency programs at Magnolia Part over the last few years. In the 2016-17 school year, Mr. Asturias worked with students over a 10-week period of time, completing two projects: a book-making project and a wall painting, both integrating visual arts the students’ study of different historical time periods. For the book-making project, students studied ancient Mayan and Aztec codices, which are accordion books used for storytelling. They then developed their own stories, which they translated into pictures to create their own codices.


For the wall painting, students learned about the historical relevance of ancient world wall paintings and selected Greek Mythology as the cultural focus and style for their own wall painting. Together, students, school staff, and Mr. Asturias identified specific Greek myths to represent on the wall, developed small studies of images and then used these small images to plan and create a larger painting.

This project helped students learn the patience needed when involved in a detailed process, and how to follow directives while managing frustrations caused by “creative ‘boundaries’ that were created to be consistent with the historical practice of wall painting and the codices.”


“In general, the students teaming to complete a large project created an opportunity for students to not only complete a long-term project but also work together collaboratively. Students who typically have limited interactions with each other were all invested in completing a collective project. Randall Badders, one of the full-time special education teachers at Magnolia Park School, reports that the greatest impact of the project related to the necessity for the students to collaborate on the Wall Painting. Students were required to work together in various capacities throughout the process. Initially, there was a group processing of the ideas. Then, the culmination at the end of the project required physical coordination and patience. Mr. Badders also reported observing the students to have positive ownership and excitement at the final showing of the artwork.”
-Ann Brooks, Magnolia Park Principal & Avra Warsofsky, Program Specialist