ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATION
Numerous studies have shown the positive effects of sequential arts education on students' development. Leap's own evaluation data shows statistically significant improvements in verbal and communication skills, critical thinking and reasoning, creative thinking and problem solving, language abilities, focus and concentration, teamwork, and self-esteem-skills that are crucial at helping children become better students and responsible citizens, and make positive contributions to their community.
Leap uses a formal review developed by the Harvard Business School Community Partners, which provides both a quantitative and qualitative analysis of its programs. The annual review utilizes written evaluation forms, which are completed by everyone in the program: principals, teachers, artists, students, and arts coordinators.
The evaluation measures the influence of Leap's program on students in the areas of academic development, self-development, and creative development (encompassing the stated outcomes of the residency). It also assesses the impact of our programs on schools, including the areas of building community partnerships and inspiring classroom teachers to integrate the arts with other academic disciplines after the program ends.
Results from Leap's current program evaluation can be seen in our annual report.
STORIES FROM THE FIELD
Here are some examples of how Leap has made a difference:
Sharing the joy of African music
Amadou comes to our school once a week to share his joy of African music and dance with my class of eager kindergartners and first graders. One kindergartner in particular has benefitted greatly from Amadou's lessons.
This little girl is very quiet and shy, but Amadou has helped her to blossom! Her usually quiet voice becomes strong and confident when Amadou is working with the class. She has discovered that she loves to sing and drum - and she lights up when she is singing. When the kids are going in to sit down to work with Amadou, she always finds her way to the chair right next to him. This little girl's parents divorced this year and her father lives far away. She seems to enjoy the attention that Amadou gives her. She always raises her hand to participate and she remembers all the African words that he has taught the class.
When I try to review his lessons - I turn to her when I forget because I know she remembers. The kids in the class compliment her on her beautiful singing and she seems to glow. Amadou has made a huge difference in this girl's life. Thank you to Amadou and to Leap for inspiring my students!
Alison dos Remedios, classroom teacher
Redwood Shores Elementary School, Redwood City, CA
Lit up by Dance!
Nirvaan, our son, lit up when Leap Artist Michael started coming to teach dance on Mondays at Central. He has started teaching his little brother the dance moves. In fact, he and his little brother have performed a handful of dance performances (for Mom and Dad) inspired by his class with Michael Mansfield. Nirvaan has never taken a dance class but has been so taken with his experience with Michael and so sad when the class ended that we will be enrolling him in a summer dance class. We just wish Michael taught more!
Laura Allen, Parent of student at Central Elementary School
Art Boosts Self-Esteem!
As a teaching artist for Leap, I have been teaching visual art to 2nd and 3rd graders at Cleveland Elementary School in the Excelsior District for three years. During my initial year in residence, I also taught Kindergarten and 1st grade including a very challenging K-1st mixed class. I still clearly remember my first day in this class. In making my way around the room to attend to each child-many who were struggling to the point of tears-with the concept of sharing crayons, I was suddenly captured by a small boy's drawing of a tree. The tree had gorgeous, full branches reaching upwards as well as a complex root system below; it reminded me of imagery from a medieval tapestry. I praised him and commented about the drawing to the teacher, who affirmed that she had seen him do nice drawings before.
Throughout the residency, the boy-who I will call Joey-continued to produce exceptional artwork to such a degree that, by the following year, when he entered 2nd grade, he had a reputation among the teachers. It was then that I was told by his 2nd grade teacher that it was "a good thing" he was talented in art because he was extremely behind in all other areas of his education . . . he had even been held back a year in Kindergarten. To make matters more difficult for Joey, while he has a social worker assigned to his family, his father is very uncooperative in lending his support to further his son's scholastic development. For a brief spell, talk of government aid money to give Joey after-school art classes was proposed, but in the end, funds were not granted. The teacher feared, too, that the father would not have followed through on the commitment necessary to get Joey to his special art class.
I can state, without doubt, that the presence of a Leap teaching artist in the Joey's weekly schedule has changed his life. Without the added opportunity to create art and excel in the area in which he is so gifted, Joey would have very little opportunity to make art in the normal school week. While his talents, I'm sure, would have been noted by his teachers, they would have had considerably less room to flourish. When I began working with the 3rd grade this year at Cleveland School, Joey's new teacher was so excited to have him as a student and to have Leap's involvement with Joey in her class. "I get to have Joey's art this year!" she said to me enthusiastically. His 2nd grade teacher has told me that she plans to continue to follow Joey's art career and support him however she can.
The greatest testament, however, that I have witnessed, to the importance of the Leap program on Joey's self-esteem came a few weeks past when we made ancient Greek head wreaths from gold paper. I introduced the project to the students by explaining that natural laurel wreaths were bestowed upon athletes in ancient Greece during the Olympics, but that golden wreaths were given for other great accomplishments including poetry and civic service. Each student was then asked to write inside their head wreath, upon completion, something they were proud of in themselves . . . an achievement or deed. Joey, of course, drew beautiful leaf shapes and created an elaborate and impressive head wreath. Inside the band he wrote: "I am proud of my art."
Virginia Barrett, Leap Teaching Artist