Holiday Spirit

Student artwork from CSMA's Artistic Intelligence program. Courtesy CSMA.

Posted Dec. 23, 2022

CSMA is on a mission to bring the arts to everyone

by Erin Brownfield / Contributor

The mission of Mountain View arts nonprofit Community School of Music and Arts is to make the arts accessible to all. That includes special-needs participants in its Artistic Intelligence program, which has existed for more than a decade.

In 2022, about 125 youths and adults from AbilityPath, the Morgan Autism Center and the Mountain View Los Altos High School District took dance, music and art classes with Community School of Music and Arts (CSMA) faculty.

Participating in the arts is an essential form of growth and self-expression for these students, who have a range of strengths and challenges. Studies point to many benefits of arts education for students, including decreases in disciplinary problems, improvement in writing ability and increases in compassion for others. According to a recent report from the Brookings Institution, "students who received more arts education experiences are more interested in how other people feel and more likely to want to help people who are treated badly."

"This year we were very pleased to continue our long-time partnerships with AbilityPath and the Morgan Center for Autism. We've added a third partner in the MVLA high school district to our Artistic Intelligence program," said Kim Pocek, the program coordinator at CSMA.

"Our teachers are passionate about meeting their students where they are and designing programs that help them connect, express themselves creatively and have fun. CSMA is proud of how the program has grown and thrived especially in the last few years, thanks to the commitment of our teachers and the amazing work of our students," Pocek said.

"The arts program at CSMA has been a great benefit to our students in the Adult Transition Program (ATP)," said Jay Ruby, a special education teacher in the Mountain View Los Altos High School District. "We teach our students in the community as much as possible, and having an art class available makes a huge difference. We have several serious artists (one has published several children's books), and they are learning great skills. It is also important that they are discovering community resources like CSMA, so that they know they will still be able to find valuable classes when they leave the public education setting. The beauty of the Artistic Intelligence class is that it also inspires our less-developed artists. Our non-verbal students are also discovering ways of expressing themselves."

CSMA art teacher Marita Musante appreciates how creating art with others increases students' social skills. "Respecting and understanding personal space, following multi-step directions and actively listening have been taken to a new level. One of many highlights of teaching art to special needs students is watching communication skills progress beside artistic prowess."

Erin Brownfield is the director of marketing and communications for the Community School of Arts and Music in Mountain View.

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Community Health Awareness Council
CHAC serves Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and seven school districts. Among the services it offers are schoolbased counseling and programs to protect students from high-risk behaviors.

Community School of Music & Arts
The Community School of Music and Arts provides hands-on art and music education in the classrooms of the Mountain View Whisman School District.

Community Services Agency
CSA is the community's safety-net providing critical support services for low-income individuals and families, the homeless and seniors in northern Santa Clara County, including Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

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The Day Worker Center of Mountain View provides a secure place for workers and employers to negotiate wages and work conditions. It serves workers with job placements, English lessons, job skills workshops and guidance.

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The MayView Community Health Center in Mountain View offers primary care services to low-income and uninsured patients in northern Santa Clara County. No patient is turned away for inability to pay for services, which include prenatal and pediatric care, cancer screenings and chronic disease management.

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Mentor Tutor Connection matches adult volunteers who serve either as mentors with under-served youth in high school or as tutors to students in elementary and middle schools in Mountain View and Los Altos school districts.

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This group operates a 24-hour bilingual hotline and a safe shelter for women and their children. It also offers counseling and other services for families dealing with domestic violence.

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