Will discuss the way forward for Idyllwild Arts

Pamela Jordan, president of the Idyllwild Arts Foundation, is the next speaker at the Spotlight on Leadership series, presented by the Associates of Idyllwild Arts. The series features chairpersons of both academic and arts departments, and is dedicated to building connection between the Idyllwild community and the arts campus. Photo by Marshall Smith

Every Friday at All School, a luncheon gathering of Idyllwild Arts Academy faculty and students, there is a call and response that is an IAA tradition. “Remember who you are,” is the call. “And what you stand for,” is the response.

Pamela Jordan, Idyllwild Arts Foundation president, speaks next as part of the Associates of Idyllwild Arts’ Spotlight on Leadership series. She believes this call-and-response tradition defines Idyllwild Arts as an educational institution and is fundamental for understanding the way forward for the Academy’s students, faculty and administration.

“We are citizen artists,” Jordan emphasized. “We don’t come together just to create art. We use our art to serve society and social justice. It is in the school’s DNA since its founding.

“It’s such an important moment in time for me and for our faculty. Bill Lowman built the school. Now we have the opportunity to connect it. The goal, as stated in our 2016 strategic plan and vision statement, is to have Idyllwild Arts become a thriving leader in 21st century education with a global network of support.”

When Jordan speaks of implementing that vision, “connection” is a critical component in moving Idyllwild Arts forward — connecting it to the town, to the wider academic community, to society and to advances now trending in 21st century educational theory.

“There is a disruption in current educational models,” said Jordan. “It’s no longer a four-wall classroom. It’s more about educational spaces and collaboration. Our students must acquire that collaborative ability in order to be relevant as citizen artists.”

Jordan addressed the challenges inherent in changing educational models in order to adapt to rapid technological and social change. “Being locked in to what has made you successful in the past can make it difficult to evolve,” said Jordan. “You must have a long view to do that. We’re creating a committee of students, teachers, parents and administrators to take a three-year look at healthy learning alternatives.”

Jordan notes the significant work of Challenge Success, an educational nonprofit that grew from a conference of experts in child and adolescent well-being at Stanford University in July 2007.

Challenge Success partners with schools and families to provide students with the academic, social and emotional skills needed to succeed now and in the future. Its vision statement notes, “The process of growing up is slow, deliberate, and often unpredictable, and therefore requires that kids have the time and energy needed to mature into resilient, caring and purposeful adults. Challenge Success recognizes that our current fast-paced, high-pressure culture works against much of what we know about healthy child development and effective education.”

Jordan said IAA will use Challenge Success as a resource and reference to explore ways to make its highly demanding schedule of arts and academic classes healthier and more productive for its international student body. “We’ll be studying the pressures put on students from lack of sleep and how to change schedules to address that,” said Jordan. “But changing schedules comes with very real consequences we have to resolve. These are some of the things we will be considering.”

One of the innovations Jordan will discuss at her July 10 talk is the Academy’s new Institute for Teaching and Learning. “We have funding for this new professional development program that will give us an opportunity to come together [as an educational institution] for a more connected experience.

“We’ll be kicking off this next academic year with an academic summit that begins on Aug. 21, with faculty, administration and board, recognizing that we all need to come together to hear things at the same time. We’ll be doubling down on what we know and what we need to let go of that no longer serves our students as they are today. Twenty-first century teaching requires new skill sets to better serve students. I am really grateful to be here at this time in my career, with this faculty, to be part of addressing these challenges.”

Jordan extols the Academy’s faculty as up to the task of meeting coming challenges. “Our teachers are extraordinary,” she said. “There is so much more available to students today, given technological advances. Our students come from all over the world and our teachers meet the challenges of such a diverse student body every day. Their passion as educators is what makes us successful.”

Jordan’s Spotlight on Leadership presentation takes place at 10 a.m. Monday, July 10, at the Fireside Room at Nelson Dining Hall on the Idyllwild Arts campus. It is intended as outreach to the wider Idyllwild community and all are welcome. “This is a wonderful effort by the Associates to provide an opportunity for town residents to come in to learn more about the school,” said Jordan.