2019 Schools of Thought: The State of Education in Santa Barbara

In taking a look at the latest news and trends related to education in Santa Barbara County, it’s clear that there is an impressive breadth and depth of learning opportunities here in town. From the readers and writers workshop model to incorporating mindfulness practices, social-emotional learning, Latin studies, highly experiential learning, and meshing digital design with fine art traditions, educators are working hard to develop strategies that work for the ways individual students learn best. 

This special section was developed by asking the issue’s sponsors to suggest story ideas based on people, projects, or trends that they’re excited about in their schools and organizations. From that list, we selected stories that represent a wide variety of learning experiences in Santa Barbara and produced the editorial content independently. 

We hope you enjoy it and learn something new about learning! 

African Adventures for Laguna Blanca’s Zack Moore

AHA!’s Peace Builders Put Social-Emotional Education First

Bodhi Path Offers Enlightened View of Technology

Fielding Grad Mallory Price Leads for Literacy

Providence Launches Innovative Design Program 

Raising S.B.’s Next Generation of Teachers 

Saint Therese Academy Provides a Latin Advantage 

SBCC Auto Tech Gears Up For The Future

SBCC Brings the World to the Kitchen

S.B. Middle School Brings Its Best to the Table

The Joy of Experiential Learning at Crane School

The Montessori Method’s Many Success Stories

Unplugged Yet Connected at Midland School 

Leslie Dinaberg is currently the editor in chief of Touring & Tasting magazine. She spent the last 11 years as managing editor of Santa Barbara Seasons, has also edited national business and college student magazines, and writes regularly for a number of publications. Leslie has also authored three nonfiction children’s books and is the coauthor of Hometown Santa Barbara: The Central Coast Book, an insider’s guide to her hometown. See lesliedinaberg.com or follow her on Instagram (@LeslieSDinaberg) and Twitter (@lesliedinaberg). 

Click here to read this story as it originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 7, 2019. SB Independent Schools of Thought Insert 11.7.19

Saint Therese Academy Provides a Latin Advantage 

From Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

St. Therese Academy, from Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

Why is There so Much Life Left in This Dead Language?

Latin may be a dead language, which is defined as “no longer the native language of any community,” but as far as scholars are concerned, it’s still vitally full of life. 

“Studying Latin is an antidote to the frenzied pace of modern life,” explained Saint Therese Classical Academy teacher Andrew Edward Hauser. 

The school began its sixth year in Santa Barbara this fall, as part of a network of Catholic schools that have adopted a classical academic model. Part of that curriculum is that every student reads the classic works of Greece and Rome, studies the history of the church, and takes at least four years of Latin. 

“With all of its declensions, conjugations, and grammatical rules to master, Latin is a language made for a methodical mind, and in turn it trains its students to be methodical,” said Hauser. “One must slow down to make progress in Latin. Every word has to be weighed, analyzed, and understood in the context of its usage. Studying Latin instills in students a deep reverence for language, a reverence that is being lost in a culture that runs on instant communication. A strong command of language is a skill that never goes out of fashion.” 

With a documented correlation between studying Latin and higher SAT scores, college grade point averages, and even math-problem-solving abilities, many other local schools emphasize the importance of studying Latin. For example, at Laguna Blanca, 7th graders complete a job interview in Latin, and at Ojai’s Thacher School, an impressive 75 percent of the students who took the National Latin Exam received awards. Latin instruction is also offered at all of the secondary schools in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. 

We hardly need studies to confirm this, however. “Anyone who has studied the Latin language in good faith can speak to its effects on the mind,” said Hauser. “What is more mysterious and more remarkable about studying Latin is that it ingrains in those students … a confidence in discipline and a love of language.” 

Click here to read this story as it originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 7, 2019. SB Independent Schools of Thought Insert 11.7.19

Bodhi Path Offers Enlightened View of Technology

Bohdi Path Offers Enlightened View of Technology, from Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

Bohdi Path Offers Enlightened View of Technology, from Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

There have been many studies about technology leading to feelings of isolation, insecurity, and loneliness. We asked Dawa Tarchin Phillips, resident teacher of the Santa Barbara Bodhi Path Buddhist Center, for insight on dealing with this digital conundrum. 

Why do these feelings emerge, and how do we overcome them? When we do use technology, oftentimes we are isolating ourselves. Making an effort to connect with others, particularly around meaningful endeavors, is one way one can combat that. Whether it is volunteering for an organization where we care about the cause, or joining groups with similar interests — anything that gets us away from the screen and gets us around something that we find valuable is one way where we not only combat isolation, but [also build a sense of confidence through] involvement in something meaningful. … That also helps us with general insecurity, and doing it with others is something that helps us deal with loneliness. 

What are some techniques we could use? Practices such as mindfulness and self-compassion, which are proven to improve what is called positive affect, the general positivity of one’s thoughts and emotions. They help with releasing hormones in the brain that actually make us feel good or make us feel better. 

How can we help children prepare? The more that we can explain to children and youth about how their brain works, how their nervous system works, and how their emotions are generated, the more children are able to pay attention to that and also to restore their own balance by just understanding themselves better. 

Should we fear technology? Technology is not going to go away, so we need to move out of this idea of perceiving technology just as a threat to our well-being and to be asking the question, How can we work with technology in a way that does not diminish the quality of our lives and actually helps us maintain or increase the quality of our lives? 

Click here to read this story as it originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 7, 2019. SB Independent Schools of Thought Insert 11.7.19

SBCC Brings the World to the Kitchen 

Free Tuition Program Covers School of Culinary Arts and Hotel Management 

From Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

SBCC Culinary Program, From Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

Aspiring chefs whirl around the industrial-size kitchen classroom in clean white threads, cooking up a mouth-watering array of Northern African and Moroccan dishes like Mtuzi Wa Samaki (fish in coconut curry), homemade merguez sausage, and Ghanaian chicken-and-peanut stew. 

This intricate dance of chopping, stirring, sautéing, and learning is conducted by Chef Charlie Fredericks, who is clearly delighted to be orchestrating the SBCC class called “Modern Food: Style, Design, Theory, and Production.” Students create dishes from a different country every week — and once the global-themed feast is complete, they all share a meal together. 

“It’s so much fun,” said Fredericks, a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, who has worked at restaurants in San Francisco, the Caribbean, Europe, and Napa before returning home to open bouchon in Santa Barbara in 1998. “This is definitely my favorite time,” he said. “It’s pretty much a Disneyland class.” 

Indeed, it’s a small world after all, and the Culinary Arts students seem to be enjoying the ride. “I really enjoy learning about the different countries and their different ways of cooking and different spices and how they have a connection to their culture,” said Claudia Garcia, a returning student who also has a son and a daughter enrolled at SBCC. 

The Chinese cooking lesson had a special resonance for Ava Engle, who grew up in Carpinteria and is attending the culinary school as part of the SBCC Promise Program, which provides the region’s high school graduates with the opportunity to attend for two years, free of charge. “I was actually adopted in China,” explained Engle, “and we made the Chinese food on my adoption day, just coincidentally, so that was great. I was kind of unfamiliar with the dishes we made, so it was fun to learn about them.” 

Alejandro Hernandez, a 2019 graduate of the SBCC School of Extended Learning Bilingual GED Program, is another one of 19 students enrolled in the Promise who’s attending the School of Culinary Arts and Hotel Management Program this semester. Hernandez has supported himself and his family by working full-time at a Vietnamese restaurant for many years. He says the Promise — which covers enrollment costs and all required fees, books, and supplies for two years — is a great opportunity for him to bring a global perspective to combine with his family culinary roots from Guerrero, Mexico. “Hopefully, I’ll open my own restaurant in the future,” Hernandez said. 

“I’d love to work in a hotel and travel internationally,” said Miriam Martinez, another aspiring chef. “The Modern Foods is definitely my favorite class. I love the opportunity to taste — and cook — food from every country.”

Click here to read this story as it originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 7, 2019. SB Independent Schools of Thought Insert 11.7.19

Fielding Grad Mallory Price Leads for Literacy

Mallory Price, From Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

Mallory Price, From Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

Adams Elementary School’s Literacy Coach Is New Breed of Educator

Mallory Price is part of a new breed of educators out there, one that’s not anchored to a classroom or a particular grade’s curriculum but rather to skilled listening, problem solving, and relationship building. 

“My primary role is to support teachers,” said Price, who is in her third year as the literacy coach at Adams Elementary School. With some support from Santa Barbara Unified School District, she received her doctorate from Fielding Graduate University, which inspired her “to see beyond the walls of my own classroom, ultimately leading to the realization that I can have a greater impact if I step out of the classroom and expand my reach in a new role.” 

Price worked closely with former Adams principal Amy Alzina to become the district’s first literacy coach, and she was then then supported by the new principal, Kelly Fresch, who came from a school that had literacy coaches. “The stars were aligned for me,” said Price, “and she was the perfect principal for them to hire at that time!” 

Price works with teachers in cycles and allows them to determine which areas they want their students to focus on. “If the teachers don’t trust you, it’s going to be hard to have them open the door and trust you,” she explained. 

Price grew up in Summerland, attending Summerland School, Crane School, and Santa Barbara High, and is the daughter of retired Cold Spring superintendent/ principal Tricia Price, also a Fielding grad. Education may be in her blood — her grandfather Jim Thorsell was a teacher at Washington School for about 30 years — but she had zero interest in teaching when she was growing up. 

But after graduating from the University of Washington, Price started working as an instructional aide at Summerland School. “I just needed a job and wasn’t going to stay long, but it’s the classic story — I fell in love with teaching,” laughed Price, who then got her teaching credential and master’s from Antioch University in Santa Barbara. 

Eight years ago, she became a kindergarten teacher at Adams. It wasn’t the grade she wanted, “but I just kept surprising myself. I ended up falling in love with kindergarten too, and I did that for five years at Adams.” 

During that time, she also traveled to New York every summer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University. “It’s the best professional learning experience I’ve ever had; it’s transformational,” said Price. “It’s based on some research from some of the smartest literacy experts from around the world, and it really treats teachers like professionals. You feel like you’re with the best people who are really passionate about what they’re doing.” 

Now she’s using that model here in Santa Barbara. “Kids learn and grow and fall in love with reading when they can choose their own books. I never really loved reading until I got to choose my own book and I chose to read Harry Potter for the first time,” said Price, who added that one of her favorite activities has been helping teachers set up their classroom libraries. “The district has been amazing and has purchased libraries for every single classroom.” 

Thanks to Price’s success, the district now has literacy coaches at each elementary school: Barbara Conway (Washington/Franklin), Courtney-Firth Williams (Cleveland/Roosevelt), Sandy Robertson (SBCA), Amy Gates (McKinley/Monroe), and Lindsay Alker (Harding). 

“I love it,” said Price of transitioning from traditional teacher to coach. “I don’t think I could ask for it to go any better with my colleagues. I wasn’t sure how it would go, but they’re so supportive, and I feel like all of them welcomed me and want me there.” 

Click here to read this story as it originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 7, 2019. SB Independent Schools of Thought Insert 11.7.19

 

SBCC Auto Tech Gears Up For The Future

SBCC Automotive Technology, From Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

SBCC Automotive Technology, From Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

Women Are Thriving in City College’s Automotive Technology Program 

The future of automotive technology is indeed female. 

With women accounting for just 27 percent of the U.S. auto manufacturing workforce (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018), and a skills-gap study forecasting a shortfall that will leave approximately 2.4 million U.S. manufacturing jobs vacant through 2028 and beyond (Deloitte Insights, 2018), it’s an ideal time for young women to pursue this in-demand career field. 

On a recent visit to SBCC, instructor Brittanye Muschamp’s Engine Rebuilding class in a shockingly clean, newly renovated engine lab, clusters of students, male and female, inspected and cleaned engine blocks and measured cylinders and pistons. Muschamp worked in the automotive service industry for many years before joining SBCC as the first full-time female faculty member in the department. At this rate, she won’t be the last. 

Jennifer Oseguera feels right at home with her arms elbow-deep in an engine. She’s wanted to be a race car driver since she was a little girl. “I had a race car team in high school, so I have some experience there,” she explained. “I got into auto body shop when I was in high school as well.” 

In addition to taking her second year of the automotive technology classes at SBCC, Oseguera also commutes to Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo for their auto body program. “I would like to have my own auto body shop or technician shop at some point and do some racing and custom paints as well as restoring classic cars,” she said. 

“It’s very welcoming, especially being here as a girl now that we have a female automotive teacher,” said Oseguera of her SBCC experience. “The guys don’t shut me down, and they treat me like everybody else. I’m learning a lot and getting a lot more hands-on experience.” 

Michelle Tepeque is a Santa Barbara High grad and one of 46 Automotive Technology participants in the SBCC Promise program, which provides hometown high school graduates free tuition for two years. She used to watch a lot of car restoration shows with her dad, but she never really thought about the automotive field as a career until recently. “Then a lot of my guy friends were doing it, and I thought, well, I’m kind of interested in seeing how it is,” she said. “So I gave it a try last semester and really loved it. Now, this semester, these are the only classes I’m taking.” 

As for being one of the only females in class, Tepeque said it’s mostly accepting. “I didn’t feel like all eyes were on me, and most guys are pretty laid-back about it, like they don’t really care. There are some that do give you more shit than others — they’ll ask you questions and make you feel like you don’t fit in. But being in this industry, I know there’s going to be a lot of men that will try to put you down because you’re female, so it’s teaching me to have thicker skin and stand up for whatever I’m doing.” 

Overall, she’s had a great time. “I feel like I actually learn things more when I’m hands-on like this,” said Tepeque. “Mostly, I love it.” 

Click here to read this story as it originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 7, 2019. SB Independent Schools of Thought Insert 11.7.19

Raising S.B.’s Next Generation of Teachers 

New Town-Gown Partnership Between UCSB and Public Schools 

SB's Next Generation of Teachers, From Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

SB’s Next Generation of Teachers, From Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

It takes a village to raise a child and an even bigger village to raise a community to new heights. The PEAC Community Fellows for Education is an innovative new program that does just that. 

This unprecedented collaboration — which stands for “Program for Effective Access to College” — is between UCSB and the Santa Barbara Unified School District, with support from the James S. Bower Foundation, Hazen Family Foundation, and the Helen and Will Webster Foundation. It kicked off this summer to fund teacher training at UCSB for four college graduates who, upon earning their teaching credentials, will receive an opportunity to teach in Santa Barbara public schools. 

First-generation college graduates Alejandrina and Maria Lorenzano, Evely Jimenez, and Monica Rojas have each received full funding to attend UCSB’s acclaimed Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, with scholarships in honor of beloved educator Jo Ann Caines. 

This fellowship embodies the mission of the Gevirtz School, said Dean Jeffrey Milem. “It stresses the important role that education plays in helping to build a democratic society that is becoming increasingly diverse,” he explained. “Our teacher candidates commit to an intensive 12-month program, and with teaching placements during the day and graduate classes at night, there is no time for them to work, too.” That’s where the foundations step in to ensure these students “get a first-class education without incurring large debt.” 

The four young women are now finishing up their first placements. Alejandrina Lorenzano, for instance, has been working at Santa Barbara High School with Joe Velasco in an English class. “Things are going great. We have settled into the rhythm of things a bit,” she said. “Every day is different, and every day I learn more about my students, about learning, and about teaching. As I worked more and more within the class, I have come to realize that this is the work I want to be doing.” 

Alejandrina’s twin sister, Maria Lorenzano enioyed her time at Dos Pueblos working with teacher Kelly Savio. “She was really able to challenge me and push me out of my comfort zone when it comes to instructing a class for the first time,” said Lorenzano. “I am excited to see what each day will have in store for me while I am there. Sure, there are times when stress would set in; however, I have enjoyed every moment I have experienced so far.” 

The twins bought their mother a “UCSB Mom” sweatshirt when they found out they were accepted into the program, which led to “a lot of happy tears.” They hope to serve the Santa Barbara community for as long as they can. “We are hoping to continue to get others interested in the PEAC Fellowship to help ensure it continues to help students who want to dedicate themselves to teaching,” they said. 

Click here to read this story as it originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 7, 2019. SB Independent Schools of Thought Insert 11.7.19

Getting Schooled in Museum Education

student interns strike a pose. Courtesy UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum.

Art, Design & Architecture Museum student interns strike a pose. Courtesy UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum.

Interns at the Art, Design & Architecture Museum earn academic credit and valuable experience

By Leslie Dinaberg
Wednesday, August 28, 2019 – 06:00 Santa Barbara, CA

When this year’s cohort of interns take their place at UC Santa Barbara’s Art, Design & Architecture Museum (AD&A Museum), they’ll have the opportunity not only to add valuable skills to their own resumes, but also serve to the University and the broader Santa Barbara community.

“We are contributing to the development of the museum field by fostering future professionals,” said Elyse Gonzales, AD&A Museum’s acting director. “I also see the internship program, and all of our efforts really, as a means of developing future museum visitors, members, and donors for our museum and all museums in general. Our goals for the undergraduate internship program at the AD&A Museum are quite ambitious.”

Internships for academic credit are offered in the curatorial, collections management, archival management, programs/events, education outreach and public relations departments of the AD&A Museum. The museum also offers collaborative internships with the University Library’s special collections department; the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, where interns serve as gallery guides for students in grades six through 12; and with online platform impactmania — in collaboration with the Neuroscience Research Institute, Department of Religious Studies and global partners — where interns work to deliver a suite of interviews, interactive presentations, and events related to the topic “Human Mind and Migration.”

“I approach all of our UCSB students — really all students — who come to the museum the same way, with a warm welcome, emphasizing that the museum is for them,” Gonzales said. “If we can get them to visit while they are at UCSB, give them a positive experience and help them understand that the museum is not an intimidating place — this is not a place that is about exclusion, it’s about inclusion — then you’ve hooked a museum-goer for the rest of their life.

The more we can reach out to and engage younger generations, the better we are going to be in the long run. And when I say ‘we’ I mean the AD&A Museum, but also museums in general.”

Gonzales credits much of the vision for the internship program to Bruce Robertson, the recently retired museum director. “Studies reveal that most museum professionals and others in the arts became interested in these fields because they had a pivotal moment with an object or a formative creative experience. Knowing that, and with education as the imperative of the entire university, we immediately understood that we could make a significant contribution to our field,” Gonzales said. “But, also the reality of our situation is that we have a lot of tasks, projects, and events that need to be executed and managed and loads of ambitions to do even more. Knowing this, it became clear that working with students would not only help them but help us achieve our goals and mission.”

Focused on professional development, the resulting program pairs students with employees at the museum.

“The students have been great to work with — they are excited to learn new things, go ‘behind the scenes’ at the museum, and are able to explore possible career paths,” said Architecture and Design Collection Reference Archivist Julia Larson. “The students are eager to come in for their intern shifts because they are working on concrete projects — putting materials in folders, organizing and labelling collections, assisting with cataloging which they can cite as examples of work projects for future jobs or grad school. They also ask a lot of good questions and force me to think through my work and how best to explain things.

“The students learn how to process archival collections,” she added, “which is very hands-on work.”

Said Susan Lucke, collections manager and registrar, “We rely on our interns so much. They’re just not doing entry-level work. They actually get to do work that I would do. We need the help, and they gain a lot of experience and that’s so useful when they start to look for a job.

“I think it’s helpful for kids to look at all their options in school and this is a really a good program,” Lucke continued. “It’s not like sitting in a classroom with 300 other kids. It’s more of an intimate experience, and students get a lot of one-on-one attention plus it enables them to look at another side of life.”

AD&A Museum interns have gone on to graduate school; the Peace Corps; and to careers at many different kinds of museums, including the Smithsonian, the Peterson Automotive Museum, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara and the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara, among others.

For-credit internships are open to undergraduates in all majors. “We find that many of our interns love art and architecture but also feel like they need to have a degree in something else, something they perceive as being more stable,” said Gonzales.

“The impetus behind this internship program is primarily to help give students professional experiences but also to help alleviate student and parental concerns about future career opportunities,” she added. “In addition, one of my goals is to help reflect the diversity of our campus and to create opportunities to diversify the field for future museum leadership.”

What she feels most proud about the internship program is that when students leave, they have concrete real- world experiences they can put on a resume and several individuals willing to give them a great reference. “A really smart and committed intern can do wonders,” Gonzales noted. “We should know, our museum wouldn’t function half so well without their terrific help.”

Originally published in the UCSB Current on August 28, 2019.

Bells Will Be Ringing

Performance by university carillonist Wesley Arai celebrates the 50th anniversary of Storke Tower

By Leslie Dinaberg

Tuesday, August 20, 2019 – 12:00, Santa Barbara, CA

University Carillonist Wesley Arai, courtesy photo.

University Carillonist Wesley Arai, courtesy photo.

From a small space atop Storke Tower, the music Wesley Arai creates on a 61-bell carillon rings out across the UC Santa Barbara campus.

Audiences will be treated to a special program Sunday, Aug. 25, when Arai, the university carillonist, gives a recital as part of series celebrating the 50th anniversary of Storke Tower. Free and open to the public, the concert begins at 2 p.m. Listeners are encouraged to bring blankets or lawn chairs to sit on the grass beneath the tower.

“I realize that most people aren’t familiar with the carillon, so I try to make my recitals accessible and varied,” said Arai, who also oversees the maintenance of the instrument and organizes guest carillon recitals as part of his duties. The summer concert will include well-known classical music, popular songs and some music written specifically for the carillon. As a tribute to the 50th anniversary, Arai said, “I’ve been trying to also include music that is significant to the university and its carillon. Going with that theme, the concert will likely include some music written for the campus carillon, music written by past university carillonists and school songs.”

Arai, also a lecturer in the Department of Music, has performed extensively across the United States and abroad. He has recently performed in Australia, at the Eighth Berkeley Carillon Festival, at the Springfield International Carillon Festival and at the Congress of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America, which this year took place in Lake Wales, Florida. In addition, he gave the dedicatory recital for the carillon at the University of Washington. Arai also performs annually at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Spokane, Washington.

In addition to the carillon, Arai has studied piano, trombone and voice, and has performed in a variety of concert bands, marching bands, jazz bands, orchestras and choral groups. He also enjoys arranging music and occasionally performs some of his own arrangements on the carillon.

An alumnus of UC Berkeley, where he received bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and in statistics, Arai discovered the carillon as an undergraduate student. “I would hear the bells all the time while walking to class,” he said, “and I heard there was a class to learn how to play — so I signed up and have been playing ever since.”

Enthusiastic to share his passion and skill, Arai invites UC Santa Barbara students interested in learning to play the Storke Tower carillon to email him at warai at gmail dot com to schedule a piano audition. Enrollment is limited to three students per quarter.

Storke Tower and its carillon were a gift from Thomas More Storke, former publisher of the Santa Barbara News-Press. The instrument consists of 61 bells cast by Petit & Fritsen of the Netherlands, with the bells weighing from 18 pounds to 2.5 tons and spanning five octaves. The carillon at UC Santa Barbara is a much larger modern copy of historical instruments that were invented approximately 500 years ago in the Low Countries of Europe. Then, tower bells were used to signal time, much like a clock chime, and as a means of additional notifications (e.g. an enemy is approaching) and directives, such as to close the city gates or go to church.

Eventually, the number of bells was increased and they were connected to a keyboard to facilitate the performance of music. A melody was often played to attract the attention of the townspeople before the hour bell tolled the time throughout the day. A carillon is played with the fists and feet, and the action is completely mechanical. To vary the dynamics of the music, the performer must strike the key harder or use a lighter touch, much like a piano.

Originally published in the UCSB Current on August 20, 2019.

Body-Mind Connection

UCSB Campus Bluffs, painting by Chris Potter.

UCSB Campus Bluffs, painting by Chris Potter.

BMCA somatic movement conference focuses on embodiment and brain research, with an indigenous education element

By Leslie Dinaberg

Monday, August 5, 2019 – 10:15

Santa Barbara, CA

Bringing together more than 70 presenters from around the world, the Body-Mind Centering Association (BMCA) presents its 34th annual interdisciplinary laboratory, research and workshop conference at UC Santa Barbara August 6-11.

brooke smiley.  Photo by Peter Aguilar.

brooke smiley.  Photo by Peter Aguilar.

Hosted by brooke smiley, a lecturer in the Department of Theater and Dance, this somatic movement conference features an array of workshops, panel discussions, presentations and performances. The theme, “Self and Other,” reflects the conference emphasis on the evolving indigenous embodiment in relation to dance, song and land.

“I wanted to create a focus on what it means to value our differences and also bring focus to our interconnectedness,” said smiley.

She anticipates approximately 130 participants at the conference, which is open to the public. “It’s interesting because we have a lot of people from different realms: science, dance, academia, choreographers, dancers, therapists and infant movement development specialists,” smiley said. “Movement research takes a lot of different forms out in the world. As host, I’ve been able to be supported in bringing a focus to an indigenous educational awareness about the land here, specifically before UC Santa Barbara was here, and the dances and the songs that came from the bodies in relationship to this land.”

With that awareness in mind, the Friday, Aug. 9 plenary session led by smiley, titled “Embodying Land in Dance and Song: Addressing Decolonization in Indigenous Ceremony and Performance,” includes a panel from the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. An indigenous dance artist herself, smiley was recently named a 2019/2020 Advancing Indigenous Performers Fellow by the Western Arts Alliance, a program made possible by a lead grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and additional support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Among the conference highlights:

• A two-part presentation by BMCA founder and Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen. “Engaging Self and Other through Embodiment, Part I” will begin at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10. Part II will take place at 9 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 11.

• 2019 Guggenheim Scholar Ann Cooper Albright’s two-part “Cultivating the 3R’s: Responsiveness, Resistance, Resilience” (Aug. 6 at 2 p.m. and Aug. 7 at 9 a.m. ). Cooper is professor and chair of dance at Oberlin College.

• Two evenings of dance performances (Aug. 7 and 8 at 8 p.m.) in 1151 Humanities and Social Sciences Building. Admission is free.

Founded in 1985, the BMCA is a professional organization dedicated to exploring, sharing and expanding body-mind centering work. Members reside around the world, including the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

Additional conference details and registration information is available at https://bmcassociation.org/conferences/2019-bmca-conference. A complete schedule of events can be found at https://bit.ly/2JHR7YJ.

Originally published in the UCSB Current on August 5, 2019.