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Feb. 9, 2012- A DREAM Realized

February 10, 2012
A DREAM Realized

This morning, I had the distinct pleasure of participating in a wonderful press conference regarding the DREAM grant. Since 2009, faculty at Cal State San Marcos have been working with more than 141 teachers and 3,000 third- and fourth-graders in schools across North County to improve reading scores.  The study is funded, in part, by the U.S. Department of Education, and the results are why educators, artists and news media gathered at the North County Regional Education Center.

Students who participated in the program went from below basic reading levels, to basic proficiency, to way beyond. In fact, their test scores rose 90 points! Through puppetry, drawing, music, and animation, students “live” the stories they read. For example, Hector DeLeon, a teacher at Vista Academy, used jazz to help his 32 students explore the 20s. He asked his students to draw what they thought jazz would look like and then to add words that described jazz. Those words then turned into sentences, which turned into paragraphs, which turned into stories and poems….and a room full of engaged students led by an enthusiastic teacher. You can watch a clip of the students and their projects.

From the amazing test scores and the interest of the students, art clearly has the power to inspire and educate. It is not “fluff,” a subject to be taught only if budgets allow. Rather, art should be incorporated into every level of learning. Students learn how to develop ideas, how to revise their work, how to collaborate, and how to express themselves. Besides, as it was pointed out during the press conference, theater and performance are among the most cost effective learning tools.

As a longtime educator with a deep appreciation for the arts, I hope that more schools realize the tremendous success that students in arts programs achieve. Let’s help all students realize their dreams.

To learn more about the Cal State San Marcos program, visit