Virtual State Of the Schools Held by Burbank Arts and Educational Foundation

Dr. Matt Hill, Charlene Tabet and several others spoke about expectations for the school year.

First day of school 2021: Burbank Unified Superintendent Matt Hill and new John Burroughs High School Principal Dr. Matt Chambers welcome students back to campus. (Photo by Ross A Benson)

On Wednesday night via a Zoom meeting, the Burbank Arts and Educational Foundation presented the State of the Schools 2022.

Numerous people spoke and answered questions, and they included Dr. Matt Hill, the Burbank Unified School District Superintendent, Charlene Tabet, the President of the Board of Education, Hilde Garcia, a Walt Disney Elementary School bilingual fourth-grade teacher, and Stephen James, who since 2003 has run the drama program at John Muir Middle School.

Kicking off the event was an insightful 20-minute film that featured students, teachers and administrators.

Hill said, “we are here for our students,” and Burbank has ”high-achieving students” and added he’s “an advocate for the arts. The arts are embedded into the curriculum.”

Charlene Walters, a long-time PTA member including two years at Disney Elementary and an advocate, has two children in the BUSD Dual Immersion program, which was also shown in the film. “We want our students to love school,” she said.

Sky Art projects were also featured and were said to be something everybody remembers because they’re so vivid and colorful.

Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity (EID) is something the BUSD is fully behind.

Laura Friedman, a member of the California State Assembly, was also featured in the film. “Experience makes learning more fun,” she said.

California State Senator Anthony Portantino spoke. “This school year is going to be great,” he said. “All my children are past this age. I’m sorry because I would like to experience it again.”

Hill addressed the necessary skill set students need to succeed and at the top of that list is adaptability and second is getting the skills needed to thrive.

Adam Schiff, a member of the House of Representatives, said COVID-19 was a real curveball. “Now the students are back in school and thriving,” he said.

What followed was answering questions from guests and viewers at the Zoom session and included questions about mathematics and STEM, and STEAM which Jessica Palaski, a Burbank math teacher, answered.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and is a philosophy of education that embraces teaching skills and subjects in a way that resembles real life, and STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

“There has been dramatic growth in math,” Hill said. “There’s always opportunities for growth.”

Tabet said she wants to meet the board goals and Garcia, who has a passion for science, said the dual immersion language program is vital and important. Hill likewise said, “he’s fully behind the program.”

James, who has won a Moth Grand Slam in the storytelling competition and has directed more than twenty plays, noted “that in the art world, collaboration is at the center,” and later spoke about when students get a bit sidetracked. “We are here to help you if you are having problems,” he said.

Hill answered a question about EID. “We want to build on the work we started last year,” he said. “Each school will have a goal. I’m really excited that we will have a more diverse curriculum.”

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