Mariposa County

NAME OF COUNTY: Mariposa County Office of Education
REGION: 6
COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT: Jeff Aranguena, Mariposa County Superintendent of Schools
COHORT LEAD: Cara Goger, Visual and Performing Arts Consultant
EMAIL: goger@mariposaartscouncil.org

Scroll down to see how Mariposa County Office of Education and partners are working to increase student access to arts education.

Mariposa County is a small, rural county located to the east of the San Joaquin Valley in central California. It is located in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, north of Fresno
and east of Merced, and southeast
of Stockton. The county’s eastern
section is the central portion of
Yosemite National Park.

About Mariposa County

Mariposa County was one of the original counties of California, created at the time of statehood in 1850. While it began as the state’s largest county, territory that was once part of Mariposa was ceded over time to form all or part of twelve other counties, including all Merced, Madera, Fresno, Tulare, Kings, and Kern; and parts of San Benito, Mono, Inyo, and San Bernardino, and Los Angeles. Thus, Mariposa County is known as the “Mother of Counties.”

Mariposa County is a small, rural county located to the east of the San Joaquin Valley in central California. It is s located in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, north of Fresno and east of Merced, and southeast of Stockton. The county’s eastern section is the central portion of Yosemite National Park.

Mariposa is one of seven single-district counties in California, whereby the organization functions as both county office of education and district office. Mariposa County’s elevation varies from 300 to 11,000 feet above sea level, with geological features ranging from rolling foothills to mountain forests and alpine terrain. Its population is estimated to be 18,150, which is disbursed in small pockets throughout the county, with heavier concentrations in Mariposa, Catheys Valley, Bootjack, Coulterville/Greeley Hill/Don Pedro, and Yosemite. A wide variety of social and community services are provided in Mariposa proper, the unincorporated county seat. Some agencies also provide services in the Coulterville/Greeley Hill/Don Pedro and Yosemite communities, which are geographically removed. However, such services and programs are limited in nature and often impacted due to the high need of the community. 

Unique Characteristics

Mariposa County Unified School District (MCUSD) has approximately 1,700 Transitional Kindergarten through 12th grade students attending the district’s six elementary schools, three high schools (two small necessary schools and one accredited comprehensive high school), and other alternative education programs. MCUSD employs more than 300 full and part-time staff members. Several of the schools, including Lake Don Pedro Elementary, Greeley Hill Elementary/Coulterville High School, Yosemite National Park Valley Elementary, and Yosemite National Park El Portal, are over an hour’s drive from the district office. To facilitate regular school attendance, the District currently operates 23 bus routes, with our drivers driving over 500,000 miles per year. The 22% poverty rate in Mariposa County is an issue that factors into family engagement. Due to both geographic and economic reasons, many parents find it difficult to attend school and district meetings.


Description of the Arts Strategic Planning Process

The Mariposa County Strategic Art Plan was designed to provide a clear pathway forward for the Mariposa County Office of Education/Mariposa County Unified School District and members of Mariposa’s community working to support quality arts education for Mariposa’s youth. Developed by the County’s educational administrators, teachers, artists, parents, students, community organizations and interested citizens this plan is specific to Mariposa and reflects the nuanced nature of the community. 

The committee honestly considered the many challenges and limitations the County faces with respect to arts learning and the plan offered thoughtful and achievable solutions, leveraged by the community’s many assets to grow and sustain high quality, equitable and sequential arts education for every one of Mariposa’s students. Most importantly, the planning process helped builds the capacity and infrastructure needed for effective collective impact, grafting and nurturing the community’s connective tissue, and creating the support mechanism to coalesce disparate arts education initiatives into a cohesive, robust and vital creative ecosystem benefiting not only its youth, but the entirety of Mariposa. 

Strategic Planning Arts Team Members

Ryan Ballinger – Principal of the Mariposa County Alternative Education Center, MCOE/MCUSD

Phyllis Becker – Teaching Artist/Community Artist

Jen Beavers – Woodland Elementary 3rd Grade Teacher, MCUSD

Pete Bothwell – Mariposa County High School Visual Art Teacher, MCUSD

Rose Fluharty – Mariposa County After School Program (Middle School), MCOE/MCUSD

Cara Goger – Executive Director, Mariposa County Arts Council & VAPA Consultant, MCOE/MCUSD

Jill Harry – President of the Academic Boosters Club, Parent

Carol Hart – Mariposa County Arts Council Board Member, Biologist, Dancer

Joshua Kim – Director of Special Services, MCOE/MCUSD

Lydia Lower – Director of Educational Services and ELL, MCOE/MCUSD

Marci Messick – El Portal Elementary 5th Grade Teacher, MCUSD

Katie Pike – Woodland Middle School Teacher, MCUSD

Flora Savage – Mariposa County High School Counselor, MCUSD, Artist and Musician

Gracie Tafoya – Mariposa County High School Student

Tyson Wellcome – Alliance for Community Transformation/Pathos Printing

Peggy Burt – Strategic Plan Facilitator, California Alliance for Arts Education

Peggy Burt facilitates strategic arts planning with the arts committee.


Planning Dates

  • November 4, 2019
  • December 2, 2019
  • January 27, 2020


Highlights of Key Goals in the Strategic Arts Plan

While the primary goal was to develop an implementable plan that builds capacity and infrastructure to support rigorous, equitable arts instruction for all students in Mariposa, this plan and process also served as an initial effort to bring together a community of practice within disparate sectors of Mariposa’s education/arts community to form a singular vision. Also, this plan is intended to fold into both the Mariposa County’s Creative Placemaking Master Plan (currently in development) and the Mariposa County Arts Council’s forthcoming Strategic Plan.

  • Content: Teaching and Learning in and through the Arts/Professional Development
    • Deliver curriculum, instruction and professional development to support the arts and arts integrations for all students;
    • Develop a Sustainable, Progressive, Diverse Arts Curriculum;
    • Empower teachers with relevant PD that allows choice and makes teaching easier; and
    • Promote and Empower Student Voice While Exhibiting Student Creativity and Expression
  • Collaborations/Partnerships: Networks/Cross-County Collaboration(s); Interdisciplinary programs/efforts
    • Build support for the arts through partnerships, relationships and shared spaces for community and school engagement;
    • Forge Relationships with Community Partners to Support Arts Education;
    • Support & Celebrate Relationships that Foster each Student’s growth through authentic experience;
    • Partner with local businesses and organizations to provide space for students to create and/or present art; and
    • Develop Inspiring School Sites for Students to Thrive
  • Sustainability: Funding/Program Evaluation/Effective Use of Data /Community Involvement/Advocacy
    • Increased funding, leadership development and advocacy for long-term arts ecosystem support.
  • Share our mission about arts education and advocate for its relevance and its benefits, persuade the community to participate and support;
  • Empower an Inclusive Leadership Team to support an equitable and sustainable Arts Education Plan implementation;
  • Leverage Existing and Create New Funding Sources: and
  • Adopt The Declaration of the Rights of All Students to Equity in Arts Learning


Value Statement – How has this work been valuable for your county?

All of the Students in Mariposa County will have access to:

  • Equitable, Sequential Creative Arts- PK-12th Grade;
  • Increased Capacity and Support for Arts Integration; and 
  • Student centered Arts Education that empowers Students through choice and voice.
  • What have you seen as the value of arts strategic planning in your county?
    • Developing a strong and enthusiastic community of practice dedicated to defined vision of arts education in Mariposa
  • What have you seen change in your county as a result of this planning process?
    • We expect to see a lot of this front in the year to come, but for the time being, this document is guiding the evolution of arts education program offered by the Mariposa County Arts Council and informing how the County’s Creative Placemaking Master Plan is developing authentic arts learning/experiences into the program, projects and policies it is prioritizing for the County as a whole.

Commentary

Quote from the Superintendent:

“Given the positive academic and social emotional impact the arts have on our students we are excited to be investing in resources into building systemic practices and partnerships which grow and support equitable and rigorous arts learning throughout Mariposa County aimed at empowering classroom teachers, centering student voice, and integrating classroom curriculum with a myriad of creative placemaking efforts across Mariposa County at large.Jeff Aranguena, Superintendent of Mariposa County Office of Education/Mariposa County Unified School District

Key Text from the plan:

“This Strategic Art Plan has been designed to provide a clear pathway forward for the Mariposa County Office of Education/Mariposa County Unified School District and members of Mariposa’s community working to support quality arts education for Mariposa’s youth. Developed by the County’s educational administrators, teachers, artists, parents, students, community organizations and interested citizens this plan is specific to Mariposa and reflects the nuanced nature of the community. It honestly considers the many challenges and limitations the County faces with respect to arts learning and offers thoughtful and achievable solutions, leveraged by the community’s many assets, to grow and sustain high quality, equitable and sequential arts education for every one of Mariposa’s students. Most importantly it builds the capacity and infrastructure needed for effective collective impact, grafting and nurturing the community’s connective tissue and creating the support mechanism to coalesce disparate arts education initiatives into a cohesive, robust and vital creative ecosystem benefitting not only its youth, but the entirety of Mariposa.”

Quote from the Plan:

Any way you slice it, Mariposa is a rural and for those growing up here, rural reality and culture is a defining feature of their childhood and educational experience. While certain limitations exist, overall, Mariposa rural features are significant assets – its scale and strong community make it is easy to leverage the many developed and latent opportunities within Mariposa’s educational and social ecosystem to support the County’s youth, in all areas, especially (for the purposes of this document) rigorous, sequential, and equitable arts education. 

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