Great Things Are Happening At Garden Place Academy

The post below is by El Sistema Colorado’s program coordinator, Dr. Diana Howard.  Dr. Howard is responsible for coordinating all initiatives in the Garden Place Academy community. She works with each of the teaching artists daily as well as with parents and community members. Most importantly, she has developed a special relationship with the kids after 5 short weeks.



Dr. Diana Howard

I wish you all could have seen the faces of our El Sistema third graders as they drew bows over violin strings for the first time!  Pure JOY… and the delightful surprise of possibilities to come!  It gave me goose bumps and great hope!

How, in our current news, can businesses and individuals donate billions to political pacs and at the same time allow… the removal of the arts from our public schools due to funding deficits?   To quote Plato, “The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life.”  I believe, and have proven in several schools, that by beginning with the Arts, our children grow as creative problem solvers, analytic thinkers, and multi-literate citizens.  Our El Sistema children, in a few short weeks, are visibly growing in discipline, focus, self-confidence and respect for one another.

The National Standards for Arts Education urges us to understand that, “If our civilization is to continue to be both dynamic and nurturing, its success will ultimately depend on how well we develop the capacities of our children, not only to earn a living in a vastly complex world, but to live a life rich in meaning. The vision that the Arts hold out affirms that a future worth having depends on being able to construct a vital relationship with the arts, and that doing so, as with any other subject, is a matter of discipline and study.”

More than a hundred Garden Place kindergarten and third grade students are devoting themselves to daily learning in violin and cello instruction, body percussion and drumming, and choral work.  At the end of their long school days, the third graders beg to turn out the lights, lie on the carpet and listen as their teacher’s violin magic washes over them.

What an image to hold in one’s heart!