Reflection and Holiday Thanks from Anne Clark

January 1, 2013

Dear BAA Community and Friends,

We hope you’ve been able to spend some time with family and friends this holiday season.  The end of the calendar year represents the middle of the school year for us, a time for reflection on the past semester and planning for the one ahead.

We began the school year with two exciting announcements:

– BAA Humanities teacher Raul Garcia was honored at a White House ceremony on August 31 as a 2012 Champion of Change.  Mr. Garcia received this national award in recognition of his tireless efforts to make quality education accessible to all students.

– Boston Arts Academy was the recipient of the 2012-2013 Outstanding Arts School Award from the international consortium of Arts Schools Network.  This award is presented to an arts school with an exceptional record of overall excellence in faculty and student achievement, community involvement, curriculum innovations, as well as regional and national recognition.  A formal presentation was made to BAA at the annual Network conference in Chicago on October 18.

These were great accomplishments to kick off our 15th anniversary year and ones in which the entire Boston Arts Academy community took great pride. They also served to remind us of the reasons we are here and of the work that lies ahead.

One of our first tasks this semester was to add some color to Boston’s only public high school for the visual and performing arts.  Plans are being made for a major renovation in the next few years, but that prospect does little for current students who spend many hours a day in classrooms and hallways sorely in need of repair.  Painting was a first step towards a facility our students need and deserve.  On Saturday, October 6 (just a day shy of when the building was dedicated in 1998), over 200 volunteers organized by City Year descended on BAA and gave our walls the kind of color appropriate to an arts high school.  City Year connected us to the rock band Dispatch and to their non-profit organization, Calling All Crows, for this event.  We are grateful to these two great service organizations for helping us to celebrate our 15th anniversary year.  Please visit and check us out if you haven’t done so already!

All of this came at a time when Boston Arts Academy made strides in other ways as well.  Our dance department was honored to collaborate with renowned choreographer Nathan Trice this fall.  We are presenting our first musical in over a decade, “Rent,” at Emerson’s Semel Theater on January 11 and 12.  Our math faculty presented aspects of our STEAM curriculum at this year’s National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference this fall.  And our students in our humanities project-based learning course, Peers Educating peers (PEP), collaborated on projects with schools in Washington D.C. and Doha first semester.

The Center for Arts in Education, BAA’s dissemination and professional development arm, began the year with new energy under the leadership of founding Headmaster Linda Nathan.  As detailed in a press release earlier this year, the Center was awarded management of the Surdna Foundation’s nationally-acclaimed Artist Teacher Fellowship Program.  This important initiative provides arts teachers throughout the country with sabbaticals to hone their talents as artists and, ultimately, as teachers. The Center has also forged new partnerships, including international partnerships, such as one with Artist Proof Studio in South Africa.  Three of our staff members traveled to South Africa this fall, and we are hosting two visiting artists from Artist Proof Studio in the coming months.  The growth of the Center for Arts in Education is one more way in which Boston Arts Academy is seen as a proven leader in urban arts education.

And in further example of how we acknowledge our beginnings in this, our 15th year, I am pleased to announce that our 2013 Graduation will take place on June 10 at Boston’s historic Shubert Theatre, scene of our very first commencement in 2001.  I am further honored to say that we have just confirmed that Diane Paulus, Artistic Director of the American Repertory Theater, will be our featured Commencement Speaker.

As we reflect, we also plan for the future.  Already in motion are plans to provide students with more enriching off-campus opportunities including creating internships in professional arts organizations, expanding elective and Master Class offerings, providing greater opportunities for students to graduate with career and technical certifications that reflect marketable skills, and creating community and leadership opportunities that empower student to be advocates with and for the arts and others.

These goals, together with our missions, reflect our commitment to continuous improvement.  We are able to accomplish all of this thanks to the generosity of those who believe in the transformational power of an arts-based education. This 15th year celebration is as much a testament to you, our supporters, as it is a reflection of our commitment as educators.  Thank you for keeping the arts in Boston Arts Academy!

With thanks and all best wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year,

Anne R. Clark

Interim Headmaster