Jennifer Portillo

City: Whittier Union High
Position Seeking: Board Member

Question 1: Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts) while growing up and its impact on you.

Some of the most meaningful experiences I have had while growing up fall across a wide spectrum. I was fortunate enough to attend schools with strong arts education curriculum.I've had opportunities to learn pottery, the violin, the bass guitar, the trombone, photography, videography, graphic arts, poetry, several forms of dance, songwriting, and performing arts. Visiting exhibits at a young age coupled with art history has likely contributed to my enthusiastic visits to museums and performances across the globe. I believe that languages should also be considered art especially when used as a form of expression. I believe that the ability to read music heightens the ability to understand it when performed. For example, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet can be understood as a journey of storytelling through music rather just a musical piece. An example of why languages can be art: I am multilingual and enjoy the opera with a deeper understanding and can incorporate languages into poetry/music. I truly believe that all experiences in art lead to a meaningful lifetime experience on some level.

Question 2: How can arts education support student outcomes such as English language development, reducing the achievement gap, and preparing youth for college and/or meaningful careers?

Exposure to the arts is proven to have a significant impact on development. Though the impact of arts education experiences can not be as easily measured as math or reading kills we I know it plays a significant role in boosting valuable critical thinking. Art can applied in some form all fields of study, including English language development. Excellence in thought is systematically cultivated and attention to the arts requires a more careful, empathetic, and thorough mind. I believe that arts education can change a student's trajectory by encouraging a student to be more engaged (in and out of school), improving productivity, increasing the likelihood of college attendance/acceptance, as well as manifesting an overall sense of happiness and fulfillment.

Question 3: What do you think the role of the School Board should be in ensuring that students have continued access to a broad range of study subjects, including the arts (broadly defined)?

I think the members of the School Board should be advocates for the arts! Often times funding to the arts are the first to be cut and the Whittier Union High School District just experience yet another cut to the budget that significantly affect our arts. We are already struggling as a district in proper funding, especially in our less affluent schools. I know the significant impact that participation in just one avenue of arts education can have on students and I want to afford them every opportunity to explore and thrive in as many avenues as possible. I know students that may have never had the opportunity to travel had it not been for activities like band, or students that received scholarships towards higher education for submittals in painting/photography/poetry, and even students that were able to apply the skills they learned in the arts to gain full-rides to colleges of their choice. I can only speak for myself, but I can wholeheartedly assure that my commitment to advocacy for the arts.

Question 4: In light of the Local Control Funding Formula and development of district Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPs), what are your creative solutions for achieving goals in the eight priority areas?

We are fortunate that most of our goals are met to some degree in regards to the 8 priorities of the accountability plan. However, there are areas where we need to continue to build upon our success. I intend to work in conjunction with groups that have experienced proven methods of optimal achievement in areas where we could use improvement. In addition the Local Control Funding Formula provides additional funding for foster youths, English Language Learner's, and low income qualifiers. Our District has begun to advantage of these opportunities but I think more attention should be paid to the equal distribution of resources across our district.