Teacher Sandra Sterrenberg Inspires Students in Trinity County

Meet Sandra Sterrenberg She teaches visual arts at the Burt Ranch Elementary School in Trinity County and has been there for 33 years. Sandra graduated in 1967 from DePauw University with a B.A. in arts education and have been teaching and learning in the arts ever since. She holds a California Visual Arts Specialist K-12 credential and a K-8 contained-classroom credential. She also serves as an arts education consultant for Trinity County schools. Outside of the classroom she is a potter and watercolorist. Sandra writes: I am a strong supporter of all the arts disciplines and have often brought dance, drama and music opportunities to the Burnt Ranch students through grants and artist residencies. I passionately believe that art is not a thing or a commodity but a way of seeing and living. To insure that our citizens lead meaningful, enriched lives and that our country survives as a respected and sensitive global leader, we need comprehensive arts educations for everyone. The most transformative experience of Sandra’s life and teaching, besides mothering two children, was traveling to Japan for 3 weeks as part of a Fulbright cultural exchange teacher program and then sharing my understandings with students and colleagues via many follow-on activities and curriculum. Sandra writes about her students: My students are typical American kindergarten through eighth graders with several unique qualities generated by the environment and the demography of the school. Burnt Ranch School is a small community of 100 students. Over 43% of the students are American Indians and 57% qualify for the Free-Reduced Lunch program. There are no ELL students. The community is very isolated, surrounded by US Forest Service property. There are no stores, only a post office and forest service station. The nearest organized cultural opportunities are an hour‘s drive east…to Weaverville (where most attend high school) or west to Arcata. Some students have never been out of Burnt Ranch and some have never seen the ocean. Many families are poverty level and deal with unemployment, single parenting, and alcohol /drug abuse. Most families do not have access to high-speed Internet (only available through satellite.)

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