Teriauna Duran, Director of Arts Integration July 29, 2020 By wpengine I have witnessed from the very beginning the commitment Friendship PCS has for arts education. In 2003, I came in as a music teacher and taught for 13 years. During that time, the arts team at Friendship Collegiate Academy decided that we were going to focus on implementing student productions. Can you talk about your role at Friendship? A large and exciting part of my role is ensuring that our partnership with City Arts and Prep Charter School is a smooth transition for both families and staff. We’re excited about bringing the arts program from City Arts to our Armstrong campus. Our FPCS Armstrong campus is now the only arts program for preK through 8th grade in the city! I provide professional development for our specials staff. I also establish and maintain partnerships – not just at the community office level, but I ensure that each of our schools has strong partnerships in the arts to support instruction, arts integration and programs. I am proud of some of the partnerships we’ve established just in this past year. We’ve had a residency with the Washington Ballet at Woodridge International for about 5 weeks. Scholars had the opportunity to perform in a culminating presentation after several weeks of ballet instruction. Several students even received scholarships to the Washington Ballet. We also have a new partnership with Busboys and Poets. The curator, who sits on our advisory board for the arts program, is in the process of reviewing our students’ artwork to be featured in several Busboys and Poets restaurants. Their Southeast location will feature our scholars’ work this October. The DC Collaborative is our biggest partnership. Our students regularly attend performances, view art exhibits, and participate in arts residencies. Any educator at Friendship can take advantage of these opportunities, not just the arts teachers! How have students benefited from the arts? I have witnessed from the very beginning the commitment Friendship PCS has for arts education. In 2003, I came in as a music teacher and taught for 13 years. During that time, the arts team at Friendship Collegiate Academy decided that we were going to focus on implementing student productions. After our inaugural production of “The Wiz”, a decision was made to re-stage it at the Lincoln Theater. When you make this kind of investment in scholars – offering abundant resources, a professional set and costumes – it says a lot about what you believe and value. We are adamant about offering students choice for their education. We want them to have options, not just a one-dimensional educational experience. There is more than one way to get to and through college. My job is to ensure they have the skills and opportunities necessary to excel in the arts if they so choose. Many of our talented scholars have majored in the arts and have since returned to teach at Friendship. Seeing former students use the skills, experiences and knowledge they’ve acquired to invest in the next generation is amazing. It is a true testament to living our mission and vision. It shows that we are getting it right. What do you find most rewarding about working in the arts at Friendship? It is most rewarding to connect with students when they’re just getting started in high school or earlier. They’re a little shy, a little unsure, and a little timid. You teach them and develop relationships. You see their growth. You see them blossom in front of your eyes as they gain more confidence. They perform at school events, in the community, and even at the Kennedy Center, which one of our spoken word artists recently did. Their growth from these experiences shows that we’re achieving our mission in a variety of ways. We are graduating well-rounded, confident, persistent, and responsible students. Artists need to have all of these traits. You have to have perseverance, because you’re going to be told “no” a lot before you’re told “yes.” You have to be responsible and put the work in to get better at your craft. They may pursue an arts degree or something all together unrelated, but they will have developed traits that will have a profound effect on their life. What has been your journey been like? I am grateful to do something that I absolutely love, which is to work with young people and affect their lives as much as they affect mine. I went to Howard University and studied classical voice. I never planned to teach, but I wanted to use my degree in some meaningful way. I initially applied to be a part-time music teacher. The next day, I received a call saying, “Oh, we’re going to need you full-time.” Here we are, 16 years later, and Friendship has shaped my career. I am doing what I love, aligned with my purpose, and I am growing professionally. I also love this school network, the family environment, and how Friendship has invested in me, believed in me, and allowed me to learn and grow. It is a huge honor to now be able to lead this work with other passionate artists and educators and to have an impact on a larger scale. Are there any strategies you would recommend to help teachers incorporate the arts into their lessons? During the next few years, we’re going to offer support to further integrate the arts into our curriculum. Regardless of what you teach, you can have the arts embedded into your curriculum, so long as you have an open mind and the ability to be a little vulnerable. It’s really about the collaboration that takes place between the teaching artist and the core subject teacher. When both teachers are open and explore together, ideas start to flow. The opportunities are limitless, as the arts connect in so many different ways to ELA, math, social studies, science, and more. Is there a fun fact you’d like to share? In 2005, I auditioned for American Idol and even made it to the Hollywood Round. My “storyline” was that I was a music teacher. When I got my “golden ticket” to Hollywood, they asked me to call my class and announce it to them to see their reaction on camera. Jendayi Wright, who is now a teacher at Blow Pierce and a Teacher of the Year finalist this year, was my student. She answered the phone. American Idol was a life-changing experience. It taught me that just because someone says “no” today, it doesn’t mean that it is a “no” forever. I am truly living my American Idol superstar dream – it just happens to be in a supporting role, here in Washington, D.C. with the scholars and staff at Friendship Public Charter School.