Alyssa Faith R. Scott | April 2018
Hometown: San Francisco, California
Major: World Arts & Cultures
Minor: Visual and Performing Arts Education
Q: How did you discover your interest in the arts and how did you know that it was something that you wanted to pursue professionally, as an artist or as an artist teacher?
A: I quickly fell in love with movement as a kid, and started taking dance classes when I was four years old. I practiced ballet and modern throughout high school, and taught at a dance camp for a few summers. Even though I had these experiences and was passionate about sharing dance with others, it took me a long time to realize that being a teaching artist was a profession that I could pursue and receive a degree in from a university. The first time I fully understood teaching artistry as a career was after a friend referred me to VAPAE and I started the first quarter of the teaching sequence.
Q: Describe what the young artists in your VAPAE afterschool arts program are working on and the process they’re using.
A: Since January we have been implementing a series of weekly “Creativity Sessions” at SpaceX, which give our students the opportunity to learn and practice diverse arts techniques. Each class is dedicated to a different medium that is taught alongside culturally and socially specific lessons. Our students think critically about the world around them and use their artmaking as a way to explore their questions and visions for the future.
Q: Why is an enrichment opportunity like this important for those participating? What do they gain?
A: Arts Education is an essential component of any curriculum and I firmly believe that every student should have access to the quality of teaching VAPAE’s programs provide. There is so much to be said about the influence artmaking has on brain development, not only in engaging critical thinking skills, but also in shaping interpersonal and emotional intelligence. More specifically to the school I’m currently working in, arts classes give each student the opportunity to explore their individual creativity and find confidence in their artistic voice. Our students work on their computers for the majority of the day, so they also appreciate moments for messiness!
Q: Did you have an opportunity like this when you were a younger artist? If yes, how did it help shape your love of art? If no, in what ways could a program like this have helped you?
A: Absolutely! Growing up in the Bay Area, I was very lucky to have art classes in my K-8 school and have the opportunity to be a part of incredible arts organizations in high school; however, the classes I took growing up lacked emphasis on the cultural and historical context of certain mediums and works of art. I think VAPAE is so important and unique because it takes a more comprehensive approach to arts education.
Q: What has this experience as a teaching artist or arts facilitator taught you about yourself?
A: Teaching in VAPAE has given me a new sense of confidence, and through my students I have learned the importance of patience and self-forgiveness. It’s easy to look towards tangible academic achievements for external validation, but feeling like you actually have something important enough to share as a teacher is much different. Tackling this mental obstacle has permeated through many aspects of my life, and has allowed me to find stronger conviction in my voice.
Q: What are the benefits to you as a student/graduate in the UCLA VAPAE program? Was this program a good choice for you? If so, why?
A: Through my studies at UCLA I have become passionate about education and public engagement in arts institutions, such as museums and performing arts presenting houses. VAPAE is a crucial point of entry to the general field of arts education, and has given me the on-the-ground knowledge and skills to pursue many related careers. Regardless of the direction I follow in the future, the experiences I’ve had in VAPAE will always inform my work and drive my passion.
Q: Are there any anecdotes from your VAPAE Studio Sessions (or Arts Education Teaching Sequence) that stand out to you? Perhaps you had a break‐through with a student or saw some particularly noticeable growth in that student through this program, collaboration etc. Maybe something surprised you or made you think about art or teaching in a new way.
A: The students I’m currently working with are very passionate about specific things in their life, such as sharks, flowers, food, etc. As part of our Creativity Sessions series, our goal is to situate these objects into categories that are related to current events. We had been having some difficulty with this endeavor until recently, when we used a teaching technique called scaffolding to encourage our students to reach the idea on their own. Through this exercise, we were able to help the students understand the relationship between a personal interest like sharks, and a broader issue at play like landfill pollution in oceans. Giving the students the opportunity to find their own connection gave them agency, and we could see the idea lights going off in their heads making them even more dedicated to their new cause.
Q: What are your short-term and long‐term career goals?
A: After graduating this spring I hope to work at a museum, performing arts institution, or non-profit in arts education, public programming, or arts policy. In the next few years I also plan to attend graduate school and work towards a PhD in a related field. Long-term, I would love to be an education director at a museum or an artistic director at a performing arts organization, and ultimately use those experiences to become a professor at a research university, such as UCLA!