Suzie Abajian, Ph.D.

District: South Pasadena Unified
Position Seeking: Governing Board Member

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

As a new immigrant to the United States I was able to build friendships and gain confidence through my enrollment in the music and visual arts programs at my high school. These programs enabled me to feel engaged and invested in school and provided me with a social and creative outlet. I also learned leadership skills as I was elected for the vice president position in a 100 member choir and helped organize our spring musical concert my senior year. The music and arts programs at my high school were essential to my academic success.

Question 2: What kind of creative solutions would you suggest to support student outcomes such as English language development, closing the achievement gap, and preparation for college and/or meaningful careers?

Engagement in music, drama, dance and the visual arts not only helps students to develop creatively, socially, and emotionally but also excel academically. These programs are essential in supporting English Language Learners, closing the achievement gap and helping students to become college and career ready. Fully funding the arts and partnering with our thriving local arts community will enable us to support all our students --particularly when the arts programs have a cultural component and students see their own culture, history and life experiences reflected in the arts curriculum and/or learn from other cultural experiences.

Question 3: What do you think should be the role of the School Board in ensuring that students have access to a broad range of study?

The role of the School Board is listening to parents, students and teachers to understand the kinds of programs they would like to see in our schools. As parents, teachers and students in our district have expressed a strong desire in expanding our arts programs, it is the role of the School Board to allocate the monies to fully fund our existing programs, expand our arts offerings based on student and parent interests and forge partnerships with local artists and arts organizations to bring in more resources to our schools.

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?

LCFF and the development of the district LCAP has provided an opportunity for parents, teachers and the larger community to have an input on district priorities and funding of programs. As Arts education is a priority for our community, investing in the arts will enable our students to feel more engaged and invested in school (aligning with the student engagement priority), which in turn will result in higher academic achievement (which aligns with student achievement and student outcomes priorities). Arts education also aligns with the school climate priority by bringing down student suspension rates and increasing school connectedness.