A New Year’s Message from Jerry Harris

_96A1272Happy New Year!

I vividly recall what a special time of year January is in elementary schools. So much hard work has taken place during the preceding several months, and half of the school year has already passed. For me, one of the more intriguing phenomena associated with this time of year, was witnessing the tremendous maturational growth spurt that elementary boys and girls seem to undergo over the winter break. Year after year, I would marvel along with colleagues at the increased focus, confidence and self-initiation that students exhibited as they came back through the doors of school after being off. It was often hard to believe they were actually the same kids who had left us just a few days earlier!

Perhaps one of the strongest recollections I have of this time, however, is that gnawing realization that there was so much left to do, and a finite amount of time left in which to do it. With the addition of deepening work on Common Core State Standards implementation, and participating in the new Smarter Balanced Field Test rather than the STAR this spring, looking at second semester at this moment may feel a bit daunting.

But in the midst of navigating the demands, pressures and unknowns that lay ahead, an unswerving commitment to quality work remains a constant upon which educators can rely. At this year’s Annual Conference, Instructional Excellence Through Artful Teaching, educator and researcher Dr. Ron Berger spoke compellingly of the power and intransience of this simple truth. It is through doing great quality work, contends Berger, youth develop robust images of themselves as students, and transform into learners who care deeply about studying and working hard in school. Boys and girls achieve and thrive in an environment of engagement in challenging, meaningful work, and true expectation of and support for quality.

The ART of TEACHING’s commitment to you is to model and exemplify great quality work with adult learners as we support your endeavors towards artful teaching. This year, we have increased our professional development opportunities significantly, and engaged outstanding trainers/facilitators to work with current and alumni teachers and administrators in both northern and southern California. As a result, there has been an unprecedented level of participation in our site-based institutes, workshops, school visitations and lab days during the first half of the school year. Numerous professional development opportunities will be taking place in the upcoming weeks and months. So please watch for announcements and registration information.

The entire staff and I send you our very best wishes for the New Year. We look forward to continuing to work with you as you endeavor to provide artful teaching that deeply engages and inspires children.


Jerry Harris
Executive Director