A few months ago, my former employee, Maesie Speer, currently the Program Associate for Grants and Programs at the Oregon Community Foundation, asked me if I'd be willing to share the Systems Thinking Systems Changing simulation with her staff in hopes that they would see the value of facilitating the simulation for recipients of their Studio to School grant. Her colleagues were really excited about it and last Friday, I facilitated the game with 100 participants in Eugene Oregon at the Shedd Institute. The participants were comprised of K-8 art educators and school administrators from all over Oregon, community stakeholders and philanthropists from art foundations in Oregon and Washington, Institutions of Higher Education, Oregon Department of Education, and staff from the Oregon Community Foundation. Some organizations present include the Oregon Arts Commission, STEM Core at UofO, Paul G Allen Foundation, the Latino Network and Harney County Arts in Education Foundation.
Participants were highly engaged, enthusiastic and even entertained as they learned the research and best practices around implementing sustainable, replicable arts education programs in their schools and communities. We discussed key components of leadership, building relationships, how long systems change may take and addressing resistance in your school communities.
After the full day event, many people, including a handful of school principals, told me that it was one of the most valuable professional development opportunities they have ever had. I was thrilled to be a part of promoting arts in schools, something I don't get a lot of time to do since my focus is usually school health. However, as a former patron of Portland Opera and supporter of theatre and other art forms in Kentucky, I'm proud to have been part of supporting the implementation of arts education in Oregon!