Leap addresses the need for high quality youth education by serving K-8 schools in the San Francisco Bay Area (San Mateo, San Francisco and Alameda counties) with sequential, hands-on and collaborative arts education residency programs in drumming, dance/creative movement, literacy/creative writing, chorus, theatre/storytelling, architecture and the visual arts. Leap is represented in schools by dynamic teaching artists who custom design residencies that fit individual school needs, meet state standards and integrate the arts into the academic curriculum.
Our main goal is to bring the arts into the classroom with hands-on, high quality, collaborative programs that meet the needs of students and teachers. No two Leap residencies are alike - each residency is custom designed to merge the artist’s skills and knowledge with the school’s academic curriculum or interests of the teachers and students. Each Leap artist provides their own distinct expertise, providing both students and teachers the opportunity to jointly learn new concepts and skills. Different time constraints, teaching artists and areas of expertise all contribute to a residency's identity and make each child's experience unique.
From beginning to end, Leap residencies are marked by the spirit of collaboration and active hands-on participation of all parties. At the beginning of the residency, the artist meets with the teachers to discuss and plan the program. California state Visual and Performing Art (VAPA) standards and ideas for curriculum integration are discussed during this initial planning meeting, as well as the teacher’s goals and objectives for having Leap as a part of their class, and the specific skills the artist can bring to enhance the learning experience of the students. Based on these discussions, the artist develops their lesson plans. In addition to designing a meaningful, relevant residency that meets the unique needs of a specific classroom, strategies for involving parents and other volunteers in the residency are discussed. This process gives the teacher a supportive partner and helps them to develop skills for using the arts in the classroom after the residency is over. The teacher is an integral part of the residency experience; and upon request, Leap provides teachers in-service training on the use of the arts in the curriculum.
Here is a sample description of a recent program:
The Leap Visual Arts program at De Avila Elementary, San Francisco is an excellent model of partnership between teachers, principal, parents and a Leap teaching artist. The program was designed and led by long time teaching artist, Leslie Fleming, who worked with 11 classrooms (kindergarten through third grade). Ms. Fleming worked closely with teachers to integrate the art program into the classroom curricula. For example, second and third grade classes focused on themes of Family, Neighborhood and Community, integrating with social studies. Parents chaperoned during a neighborhood walk and sketch adventure. Students observed and sketched local Victorian houses, then created ink and watercolor paintings. This experience cultivated an appreciation for the unique architecture of their neighborhood in the lower Haight.
Our teaching artist community includes approximately 50 dedicated professionals. While each artist has a unique background and skill set, some commonalities include the following: extensive experience, training and skill in teaching children (minimum requirement is two years); active, consistent and high quality engagement in their own professional artistic practice; and a deep commitment and passion for sharing their artistic practice with students. The average length of time for each artist’s tenure with Leap is four years. Leap provides them with ongoing, rigorous professional development to deepen their teaching skills; contribute to their long-term engagement; increase their commitment to the field; and to build a community of practice.
Leap partnered with 32 elementary and middle schools across the Bay Area during the 2012-13 school year (18 schools in San Francisco County, 4 schools in Alameda County and 10 schools in San Mateo County). We served approximately 7,425 students in 297 classrooms, and the average residency length was 16 weeks. During the 2013/14 school year, we will serve between 7,500 and 8,000 students in 30-40 elementary/middle schools.
By focusing its efforts in the public school districts, Leap is assured of reaching a representative cross-section of the San Francisco Bay Area’s highly diverse population. Leap’s programs reach students, teachers, families and administrators of many different cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Each program focuses on enhancing cultural awareness and celebrating diversity within local communities while promoting a widened sense of self and environment for each student. The majority of students that participate in Leap programs are under -served, at-risk youth that come from low-income families - on average, approximately 61% of students served by Leap are eligible for free or reduced price lunch. The racial/ethnic diversity of students currently served by Leap are estimated to be: 40.9% Asian/Pacific islander, 24.1% Latino, 10.8% African American, 11.3% Caucasian, 5.4% Filipino, and 2.7% Mixed Race. In addition, more than 28.8% of students served by Leap are English language learners who flourish with the opportunity to communicate through the arts.
Leap’s evaluation results have proven that our work improves learning in students and helps them build success in school. Here is a summary of Leap’s 12/13 evaluation results:
- 96% rated Leap teaching artists 4-5 in quality, on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest).
- 88% agreed that Leap’s programs contributed to a broader understanding of the world and its cultural diversity.
- 69% agreed that Leap’s programs improved student motivation.
- 69% agreed that Leap’s programs improved problem solving skills and creative thinking.
- 98% would recommend Leap to a colleague.
- 88% agreed that Leap’s programs improved self-esteem in students.
- 94% agreed that Leap’s programs improved focus and concentration in students.
- 70% agreed that Leap’s programs improved language abilities in students
- 86% agreed that Leap’s programs improved creative thinking in students.
- 80% agreed that Leap’s programs made a positive impact on their own teaching in the area of arts integration.
Comments from Leap’s partner schools:
The Leap residency program has reinforced my belief that art is an integral part of education. It helps provide a foundation to build a community. Furthermore, students gain problem solving skills, self-direction, self-confidence and critical and creative thinking. - Teacher at Longfellow Elementary School
We have found that students who struggle with academics frequently blossom when exposed to art. - Principal at Sunnyside Elementary School