Welcome to the inaugural issue of the Arizona School for the Arts alumni newsletter, ASA Alumni Pigeon Post.
I am so excited to launch our new quarterly newsletter, designed especially for you, our alumni. Through these regular issues, we hope to keep connected with you, expand our alumni network, share our plans and aspirations, and take some nostalgic looks into the past.
Anniversaries, particularly milestone anniversaries, have the automatic effect of making one reflect on what has been. In many ways, you and ASA have grown up together. Just as you were shaped by your time with us, ASA as an institution was shaped by you. We could not allow our twenty-fifth anniversary to pass by without taking the opportunity to reach out to ASA’s legacy, our alumni.
Some of you have kept in contact with us over the years — some of you have even worked here — but this will be our ongoing effort to keep in contact with you on a quarterly basis, to keep you informed of what is going on at the school and reconnect you with each other. We will also suggest various ways that you can remain involved at ASA. Since this is a new effort, we will be asking you for feedback via a survey after a couple of issues.
Anniversaries are not just about nostalgia though. As much as we look back, we wouldn’t be ASA if we did not cast a critical eye over where we have been and where we wish to be in the future. The events in our nation over this past spring and summer put a sharp focus on the need for social justice reform and accelerated our efforts as an educational community to examine our school culture, policies, and curriculum to create a more equitable environment so that all at our school can feel heard, represented and thrive. We listened to voices both outside and inside our community, and at our recent strategic planning retreat, the Board and School Leadership engaged stakeholders (faculty, staff, students, and parents) in an extensive discussion where we affirmed our values and commitment to equity that will be reflected in the ASA Strategic Plan, a three-year guidance document that began in Fall 2020.
The Board will prioritize equity issues, to include the following:
- Provide professional development through training in self-awareness and equitable practices for all Faculty, Staff, School Leadership, and Board of Directors.
- Conduct a comprehensive, third party, review of policies, and procedures.
- Review curriculum and instruction through an equity lens and make appropriate revisions.
- Increase the diversity of faculty and staff.
- Maintain transparent communication about commitments, revised policies and practices, and progress/accountability.
- Include diverse student voices at all levels of the organization.
The full strategic plan can be viewed here, but I am pleased to say that the work has already begun. Later in this issue, you will read about the work of our faculty Equity Group and their interactive training for their colleagues as well as the student coalition they have formed. We have also engaged an outside equity consultant to review our policies and further the education of our Board, Leadership Team, and Faculty. Probably the most immediate and tangible action step is the translation and publication of our school documents in Spanish which will allow for better outreach to our parents and the surrounding community. Our equity work will be ongoing – we recognize the need to remain engaged, focused, and uncomfortable as we move into the future.
As our 25th anniversary year unfolds, I am sure we will be hearing from many of you and should conditions allow, seeing some of you as well. Please keep reading and we will keep you informed of school happenings and ways in which we are working to create a vibrant alumni connection within our community!
Head of School and CEO