A Culture of Creativity
Envision, The Arts at Canyon Crest Academy, a unique arts program that utilizes working artists as instructors has garnered success and attention amongst the community. While professional artists work side by side with Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) teachers, they are known to deliver stellar art experience to the students involved in the program. Envision serves students who may only take one arts course during their high school years as well as those students who have a passion to study a form of art at the most intensive level possible. The program is one of a kind and the students involved are making great strides. Envision Director, Anne Whattoff, gave us a sneak peak on her role, the overall program, the opportunities available and the accolades those involved in the program have earned through student diligence under the lens of passionate instructors.
92130: What is the history behind the Canyon Crest Academy Envision Program?
A.W.: About fifteen years ago, the community was surveyed to determine what people felt were areas of need in the District. The goal was to create a school that offered something unique. The response was overwhelming for arts and technology, and Envision was designed to fill that niche.
92130: What are the main responsibilities as Director of the Program?
A.W.: Mainly, I’m a facilitator. I support the Envision staff by coordinating volunteers, helping manage our budget, and communicating with our Foundation to raise funds. I organize interdisciplinary events like our annual Festival of the Arts. I also get to advise our Envision Student Executive Board. This is a group of students who represent each of the Envision disciplines to organize events, raise funds, and purchase materials for their classes. They’re an important link in the chain of communication between the kids, teachers, and parent volunteers.
92130: What is the most rewarding aspect of being Director of such a thriving program?
A.W.: The energy and enthusiasm for the arts at CCA is inspiring. I’m constantly amazed at what the students are able to accomplish. In addition, many of our graduates continue on to further study and careers in the arts, and knowing that we are sending them out fully prepared is exceptionally rewarding.
92130: If you could have one wish for the Program this year, what would that be?
A.W.: I’m really hoping that each discipline has a chance to do more outreach events, within the elementary and middle schools, and in the community in general.
92130: Where do you see the program in five years?
A.W.: Over the past eight years, Envision has been building a reputation for excellence in arts education. I think Envision will continue to grow and live up to this reputation, especially as we develop our outreach programs.
92130: What are the six disciplines and how were these selected as the base for the program?
A.W.: Our six disciplines include Cinema, Dance, Envision Visual Arts (known as EVA), Instrumental Music, Theater, and Vocal Music. The disciplines are meant to cover as much of the arts possible, leaving room for growth within each form of art.
92130: What percentage of CCA students are enrolled in the Program?
A.W.: We have 1,905 students at CCA, and over 2,500 in Envision classes. This means that many students are doubling up and taking more than one Envision class at a time. Every student at CCA becomes involved with Envision at some point in their high school career.
92130: What is the difference between the Day Class program and the Conservatory Program?
A.W.: While some are audition-based, Envision day classes are open to all students. The three-year Conservatory program is a rigorous one, meant for students who are driven to pursue their discipline on a deeper level. For example, as part of their coursework, music students must complete an online theory course offered in partnership with Mira Costa College. Many of our Conservatory students are preparing for college and a career in their chosen art field, and the classes and projects offered help to prepare them. Conservatory classes meet three days a week, after the regular school day.
92130: What is the commitment involved as a participant in the Envision Program?
A.W.: It really depends on the discipline and class. Kids can become as involved as they choose. Upon graduation, members of the Conservatory who complete all three levels will have put in over 1,000 hours of work outside the regular school day.
92130: There are several faculty members assisting with each discipline. How are these faculty members selected? What is their required background?
A.W.: Envision is unique in the District in its use of guest artists. These teachers are a part of both day and Conservatory curriculum. Some are here throughout the year working with students in small groups or one on one, and others come in for special units or shows. Our staff is a really special group of people- not only are they respected artists in their fields, but they are talented educators who have the ability to engage and challenge our students. All of our credentialed teachers are, or have been working artists as well.
92130: How is the Envision Program funded? Is there a Booster Club?
A.W.: Envision receives much of its funding from the CCA Foundation. This group is made up of parents and community members, and helps pay for things like classroom materials, teaching artists, and special workshops. We also generate revenue with our student shows and events.
92130: What sets the CCA Envision Program apart from others of similar nature?
A.W.: I think the entire Envision faculty would agree that CCA is a special place. Our whole staff and student body is committed to maintaining a culture of creativity. My colleagues are some of the most talented and innovative people I know, and the support we receive from our administrators makes it easy for us to dream big. There are a lot of programs with talented educators and artists, but the way we collaborate and are constantly looking for ways to grow is what really makes us unique.