Amanda Tooley, a fifth grade teacher at Angeles Mesa Elementary School in Crenshaw, first engaged with Inner-City Arts in 2018 by participating in the Professional Development Institute’s Creativity in the Classroom series. Seeing the impact of the workshops on her own teaching practice propelled Amanda to later attend our Summer Creativity Practicum and STEAM Connections series.
“I’ve definitely focused in on teaching as a holistic practice,” said Amanda. “I’m now looking for connections in all areas of my curriculum and looking at art as a key part.”
In the Fall, she had the opportunity to return with her students. Here, Amanda observed her fifth-graders becoming more confident, asking questions more readily, and persevering when faced with challenges. Amanda herself pushed out of her comfort zone, growing closer to her class by creating alongside her students in our studios.
The strategies Amanda learned in our workshops have transformed the culture of her classroom. Drawing, bookmaking, creating mandalas, and exploring performing arts are just a few integrations that have deepened her students’ understanding of different subject matters, helping them express more freely.
“My students are encouraged to build community in the classroom. They better understand how to have conversations, own their work, and acknowledge each other.”
One day, after writing a collaborative poem, her students, unprompted, grabbed musical instruments and turned the poem into a song. Inspired by creative happenings like this in her classroom, Amanda now advocates for arts education and shares art-centered lesson plans with other educators.