2019 Turnaround Arts National Retreat

on July 30, 2019

By Lora Cawelti, Associate Director, Classroom Studio, and Darryl King, Sr. Program Manager, Educator Training 

This June, we headed to Warrenton, Virginia, to present at the 2019 Kennedy Center, Turnaround Arts National Summer Leadership Retreat. The annual retreat is an opportunity for teachers and administrators from across the country to participate in arts integration workshops and build community through hands-on art activities. Sessions about culturally responsive teaching, equity, and social-emotional learning set the tone for the week. On day three, with support from teachers and principals at P.S. ARTS partner schools, we had the chance to lead two workshops, one on Family Art Nights and one on community partnerships.

Family Art Night: Learning Together!

Engaging parents and families in meaningful arts experiences is important for building school culture. According to research from Harvard professor Dr. Karen Mapp, effective family events are interactive, collaborative, and linked to learning. P.S. ARTS’ facilitated family events, called Family Art Nights, were developed to accomplish goals around arts, school climate, and family engagement.

Family Art Nights were developed by a team of educators and artists to accomplish goals around arts, school climate, and family engagement.

In our first session, we guided participants through one of our most popular family art nights. Teachers created suminagashi paper marbling cityscapes inspired by the work of Ezra Jack Keats and Faith Ringhold. They then continued their hands-on journey as they researched, designed, and planned for a family art night that they could take back to their own schools. Some of our partners from Hoopa Valley Elementary, Garfield Elementary, and McKinley Elementary School shared best practices and engaged in discussion to support their peers. This session was filled with fun art-making and everyone left with all of the tools they need to run a guided arts event at their own school sites.

Dear Community Arts Partner….

How do you choose meaningful arts partnerships and create buy-in? Do not worry, you do not have to answer that but educators, administrators, and curriculum specialists from across the country were asked this and other essential questions during our second session. This session sought to support schools on a community spectrum with finding, engaging, leveraging and sustaining community arts partners and organizations in their hometown.

P.S. ARTS activity at the 2019 Turnaround Arts National Retreat

A primary requirement for schools within the Turnaround Arts program is locating and building relationships with external art partners. These art partners are vital to schools reaching their artistic goals. Partners and their well-suited expertise have the potential to impact a school’s teaching capacity, culture, and climate, or family engagement. In our session, we used a cultural mapping exercise as the impetus for our participants to become better acquainted with each other’s regions and identify commonalities they share with one another. This exercise also allowed school representatives to take needs assessments for their own community and connect with others who have similar needs for becoming more arts-centered.

These art partners are vital to schools reaching their artistic goals. Partners and their well-suited expertise have the potential to impact a school’s teaching capacity, culture, and climate, or family engagement.

During our session, we were also joined by P.S. ARTS partnership school teams, which included the Ellen Ochoa Learning Center and Garfield School. Representatives from these schools served as our esteemed panel of experts and offered advice and best practices for partnering with local art organizations within their neighboring community. They discussed what their success and challenges were working with a community arts partner and shared their personal experiences highlighting what a positive impact the partnership had on themselves and their student population.

We had such a fantastic time participating in the leadership retreat. It set the tone for the year as we work with our Turnaround Arts: CA school partners, and we can’t wait to return next year!

Darryl and Lora at the 2019 Turnaround Arts National Retreat


Thank you, Lora and Darryl, for sharing your experience at the 2019 Turnaround Arts National Retreat! Learn more about P.S. ARTS’ educator training and how to become a partner school here.

Stephanie McGrath2019 Turnaround Arts National Retreat