Thorner Elementary School


Program Descriptors:

  • Magnet
  • Urban
  • Dance, Music, Theatre, Visual Arts
  • Standards-based Curriculum
  • Instructional Methodology
  • Student Assessment
  • Professional Development
  • Program Administration and Personnel
  • Funding
  • Partnerships and Collaborations
  • Resources and Facilities
  • Program Evaluation

Thorner Elementary School’s curriculum is based upon the California Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards, as found in the Visual and Performing Arts Framework, 2004. All students receive general music and visual arts instruction weekly, provided by arts specialist teachers. In addition, the school’s magnet program offers classes in ballet, Mexican folk dancing, and other forms of dance, all under the supervision of a certificated magnet program specialist teacher. The school presents three theatrical productions each year which involve students singing, dancing, and acting and is viewed by other BCSD students, parents, and the community. Community service is provided to numerous service organizations. The district’s visual arts curriculum includes opportunities for students to participate in the District Art Gallery and the Kern County Fair Art Competition.

All students are given access to the general music and art curriculum. In addition, all grade 4-6 students have the opportunity to participate in the school’s outstanding instrumental music program. Student progress is monitored using a variety of formal and informal assessments in the arts, including written tests, rubric-rated performances both inside and outside of the classroom, portfolio assessment, and others. Students learn best by doing, and the Thorner visual and performing arts faculty provide students with learning experiences in which they can learn by creating. Students play, sing, paint, dance, and act. In addition, faculty members focus all instruction upon the five visual and performing arts content strands: artistic perception; creative expression; historical and cultural context; aesthetic valuing; and connections, relationships, and applications. Students learn to evaluate the characteristics intrinsic in each art form, and apply what is learned to their own lives.

Student work is assessed using formal assessments, which include written tests, rubric-rated performances both inside and outside of the classroom, portfolio assessment, and others. Informal assessment include teacher monitoring of daily progress and performance outcomes. The district’s visual and performing arts coordinator provides assistance with assessment by developing a districtwide rubric for the annual Elementary Honor Orchestra auditions. Students strive to meet district standards in order to participate in the Elementary Festival String Ensemble, Festival Chorus, Honor Orchestra, and Flutophone Ensemble. Professional development in the visual and performing arts provides faculty with strategies for improving teaching and learning.

Visual and performing arts faculty and generalist classroom teachers are provided with professional development workshops on a regular basis. Curriculum commission meetings bring faculty together to develop long-range goals, needs assessment, and updates to curriculum. The district just completed its latest instrumental music curriculum guide this spring, and will create general music and visual arts curriculum guides in the next two years. In addition, faculty members have attended the Kern County Music Educators Association Fall Conference, and the California Association for Music Education- CMEA- State Convention. The district provides support with a district Web site connecting faculty, parents, administrators, and the community with the California Art Education Association, California Dance Educators Association, and California Educational Theatre Association.

Thorner Elementary School’s principal is a strong instructional leader, with many years of experience in education. The Magnet Specialist has her bachelor’s degree in painting and 30 years of classroom experience. In addition, the district employs a full-time visual and performing arts administrator who oversees the program, providing professional development, as well as curriculum and instruction support, to schools. The district has an adopted policy regarding arts education, and will begin work on a district arts plan next fall.

The Bakersfield City School District provides strong fiscal support for the visual and performing arts program at Thorner Elementary School. The school employs two arts specialist teachers and a magnet program specialist teacher, as well as generalist teachers, administrators, and support staff. Budget is provided for the purchase of art, dance, music, and theatre supplies on an annual basis. In addition, the budget provides curriculum materials, including music and visual arts textbooks for students. The district provides a musical instrument repair budget. The new ongoing art and music block grant and the one time art, music, and physical education block grant will provide new fiscal support of the program in the future. Teachers have been awarded grants from the Bakersfield City School District Educational Foundation for the purpose of curriculum integration.

Thorner School has an active parent booster club and actively involves parents in the educational process. Parents are involved in the preparation of magnet theatrical productions three times a year. Set construction, costume design and construction, and other tasks are completed by parents and community members, in cooperation with school staff. The school is proud of its positive reputation in the community, and the Show Choir, Thunderbolt Choir, and other magnet performing arts groups perform regularly.

The Thorner campus is state-of-the-art, with outstanding classroom space for all visual and performing arts activities. A large stage is host to a variety of magnet performing arts classes, and art and general music classes are held in self-contained classrooms. There is space provided for musical instrument storage and prop storage. Resources are provided by the district and the community.

The success of the Thorner Creative and Performing Arts Magnet Program is a direct result of the continual program evaluation by all partners: teachers, administrators, parents, and community members. The district will continue to examine student access to and participation in the program, as well as program benchmarks. An annual report to the Board of Education provides a clear picture of goals met. The district will develop an arts plan that will include a program evaluation component.

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