How the Arts Impacts Lives (Survey)

In Orange County, FL, over 8 billion dollars have been cut from the public schools budget since 2009. There are more budget cuts being planned for 2014. As art and music classes are always the first to go, these budget cuts have led to many students being left without any form of arts education in their school curriculum.  Orange County, FL has been fortunate to have at least one type of arts teacher, be it music or visual arts, in every school. This has been a result of the property tax increase that was implemented to resolve this issue of budget cuts affecting the school district.

Some counties like Orange County, FL have planned for budget cuts affecting their district. Children in other schools have been less fortunate. As some do not have the arts in their schools at all, some children are not receiving the benefits in their lives.

Practice of the arts is vitally important to the development of socioeconomic skills for a child. Children can learn many skills to help them transcend into adulthood, such as confidence, decision-making, focus, receiving constructive feedback, non-verbal communication, and creativity.

Please allow this survey to be a way to voice your opinion to talk about the arts in your life. Feel free to talk about your past arts experiences or even recent experiences. Do you remember any of the ways that art impacted your life as a child into adulthood? If you have children, have you seen any ways that the arts have affected them in their lives?

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Scott Evans: Fine Arts Coordinator for Orange County Public Schools

Scott Evans has been the Fine Arts Coordinator for the Public School District of Orange County, FL for the past three years since September 2010.

Evans manages a group of resource teachers who work directly with the arts teachers of the Orange County school district.

“The resource teachers are there to help the teachers that are in the district to help them in their classrooms; help them become better teachers, help them improve what they do,” said Evans.

He is also directly involved in the process of writing the curriculum for the arts educators. This curriculum acts as a guide for the standardization of the how to educate children on the arts for the entire district.

The Orange County district also provides training programs for teachers in visual arts, music, dance and drama to set the tone for what is expected for the standardized curriculum. These training programs also help teachers to be aware and have a better knowledge of what is expected for the state standards of arts education.

“That’s our main role, is to really monitor the fidelity of arts education in our district,” he continued.

Evans also stated that Orange County did not get hit as hard as some of the other counties in Florida after the budget cuts went through about five years ago. He said that Orange county students are very fortunate to have at least one type of arts teacher, be it music or visual arts, in each school.

Moreover, Evans received a Master of Education degree in Music/Administration from the University of Central Florida. Prior to this, he attended the University of Massachusetts at Lowell where he received a Bachelor of Music and Education.

For more than 10 years he has taught as an arts educator for the Orange County public school district as a Choral Teacher. Evans has received two different awards in two different schools for teacher of the year in 1999 and in 2006. He received his National Board Certification in 2005.

Evans served as a guest presenter at the Florida Music Educators Association Conference and the choral Directors Association Conference. In addition, he has been a panelist in the State of Florida textbook adoption panel and for four Florida counties Evans has also been the guest clinician for honor choirs.

With his team of resource teachers, Evans and his team are setting the tone and vision for over 500 arts educators in the Orange County public school system.

Justice Rallies for Trayvon Martin Continue Around U.S.

Organized rallies arose all around the USA this past week and weekend, protesting the verdict after a jury of six women found George Zimmerman not guilty in the death of Trayvon Martin last Saturday, July 13, 2013.

After the verdict was read last Saturday, protestors continued to rally outside the courthouse where the trial was held in Sanford, FL.

The crowd chanted, “Shame, shame, shame, shame…” after hearing the verdict and seeing Zimmerman walk out of the courthouse, across the hallway.

It was reported that over 100 cities across America held rallies and protests in the wake of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin who was slain by Zimmerman back in February 2012.

Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Orlando, Miami, New York City, Brooklyn, San Diego, Oakland, Los Angeles—these were only a few of the named cities that participated in these rallies supporting Trayvon Martin and his family.

This past Wednesday on July 17, a peace rally was held in Orlando, FL. Protestors marched from Lake Eola in downtown Orlando to the Orange County courthouse. Organizers of the rally spoke to the crowd through a megaphone on the courthouse steps. They encouraged everyone to stay peaceful and that there will be justice to come for Trayvon Martin.

Shayan Modarres, one of the organizers of the Orlando rally, said that he thought it was a great turn out. “Everyone was peaceful, we demonstrated peacefully. In two days to have this many people come out and support the movement, I think that’s amazing. And this is only the beginning, we’re going to keep the momentum going and we’ll do more and more.”

“We just want people to know we’re not going to relent, we’re not going to quit, we’re not going to give up. We’re going to keep the momentum going and we are not going to move on,” Modaress continued to say.

Celebrity singer and DJ Solange Knowles organized a peaceful rally in downtown Brooklyn at Borough Hall on July 14. The singer tweeted, “seeing & gathering with people today/tonight all for the same fight helped to restore my faith in humanity…”

Superstar couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z attended a rally in New York City with thousands of other people on Saturday morning, July 20. Rev. Al Sharpton, community activist, commented on speaking to the star-couple before the rally. Sharpton said, “Jay Z and Beyoncé said they didn’t want to speak and they didn’t come for a photo op.”

Sharpton continued, “Jay Z told me, ‘I’m a father. Beyoncé is a mother.’ We all feel the pain and apprehension – the laws must protect everybody, or it doesn’t protect anybody. We do not come from hate, we come from love of children.”

Justin Jones was one of the rally organizers in Oakland, CA. Jones just recently graduated from Hercule High School and is 17-years-old—the same age that Martin was when he died.  Jones said he did it to encourage and reach out to other young people in the East Bay area.








George Zimmerman Found Not Guilty in Trayvon Martin Death

In Sanford, FL, a jury of six women found George Zimmerman not guilty in the charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin on Saturday night.

The jurors, whose identities were kept secret, deliberated for 16 hours over the duration of two days. Court officials announced that there was a verdict yesterday evening at 9:47pm.

Zimmerman was showed no expressive reaction as the verdict was given.  After the verdict was read aloud, he shook hands with his lawyer a smiled for a split-second.

Martin’s family was not inside the courtroom; their lawyer, Ben Crump, quickly walked out of the courtroom afterwards.

Crowds rallied outside the courtroom and continued to protest after the verdict was given. Emotions surged through the crowd as many Martin supporters felt that justice was not served in the court’s decision.

Martin, a 17-year-old black male, was found dead on February 26, 2012 walking on the way home to his father house, Tracy Martin, in Sanford, FL.

Sanford police waited 46 days to arrest Zimmerman; the delay in his arrest also led the public to suspicions of racism.

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