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Importance of Youth Art Emphasized Throughout March

SCOE Educators and Students Celebrate Arts in Education

Student standing next to decorated classroom door

Students in Brooke Jack’s classroom won the March door decorating competition at Leo A. Palmiter Jr./Sr. High School.

The arts are thriving in Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) schools and programs, as evidenced in everything from awards to classroom doors. March is dedicated to celebrating and promoting youth arts and arts education, a tradition fully embraced by educators and students at SCOE.

Artist Educator Awards

During the 2024 Heroes of Arts Education Gala, hosted by Friends of Arts Sacramento, community leaders, and local arts teachers were honored for their significant impact on the lives of youth. Jasmin Martinez, Arts Integration Coordinator, introduced two arts educators who were warmly applauded for the dedication and influence they have in their work with SCOE students.

First to be honored was Milton Bowens—also known as Milton 510— who shares his own stories through his art. Bowens has been a teaching artist for more than 15 years and this year he’s working with students at El Centro Jr./Sr. High School and CARE Intervention Program sites throughout Sacramento. Bowens empowers students to share their stories while showing each of them that they have something valuable to say. He successfully engages students by teaching them foundational skills in visual art and integrating history and literacy into his lessons. Additionally, Bowens provides professional development in arts integration to educators, helping them see the value and impact the arts can have in their classrooms.

Next was Lorenzo McNeal, a professional artist and spoken word poet, who inspires students to express their feelings and struggles through writing. McNeal has been educating local youth for more than 10 years and, in his first year working with youth at El Centro Jr./Sr. High School, he has already impacted nearly 80 students.

“Lorenzo’s ability for nurturing the inner strength and voice within our youth is what makes him a true arts education hero,” shared Arts Integration Coordinator Jasmin Martinez. “For that, we are truly grateful to have him on our SCOE team.”

Art Leader Award

L. Steven Winlock, Ed.D., Executive Director of SCOE’s School of Education, was recognized at the Heroes of Arts Education Gala for his remarkable 35 years of service and significant contributions to the Sacramento region. Known for his talents as a singer, dancer, performer, and leading arts educator, Winlock’s impact has been far-reaching. Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools David W. Gordon commended Winlock’s unwavering dedication to nurturing young people’s creativity through the arts, highlighting how his infectious spirit has spearheaded many initiatives and left a lasting imprint on the community.

Dennis Mangers, representing Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s office, presented Winlock with a key to the city of Sacramento, symbolizing his lifetime of devotion to opening doors for others and giving students access to arts, something that often keeps them in school and leads to future success in life.

Classroom Doors Art Competition

Students at Leo A. Palmiter Jr./Sr. High School bridged the gap between February’s Black History Month and March’s Arts in Education Month with an engaging classroom door decorating competition. Throughout February, Palmiter teachers guided their students in researching African Americans who made significant contributions to American history, and in planning their door displays and presentations. The collaborative project reached its peak in the first week of March when five staff members visited each classroom to listen to student presentations and evaluate the corresponding door art.

Principal Lauren Roth commended her teachers for seamlessly integrating visual art education into the Black History Month curriculum and highlighted the advantages of the group door decorating competition. She said, “Every student had a purpose in this project, and we observed their individual strengths, such as artistic or presentation skills.”

Among the impressive entries, Brooke Jack’s 7th/8th graders stood out to the judges, earning the highest combined score across four key elements: adherence to the theme, construction quality, creativity, and oral presentation. As a reward for their hard work, the winning class enjoyed a well-deserved pizza party, always a favorite among students.

Milton Bowens speaking

Milton Bowens (pictured at an artist and mentor event last summer), was one of two art educators honored for his work with SCOE students.

Lorenzo McNeal and Jasmin Martinez

Honoree Lorenzo McNeal, a professional artist and spoken word poet, was introduced by SCOE Arts Integration Coordinator Jasmin Martinez at the Heroes of Arts Education Gala.

L. Steven Winlock holding trophy

Steve Winlock, Executive Director of SCOE's School of Education, was recognized for the significant contributions he’s made through his lifelong devotion to youth art programs across the Sacramento region.