18th Annual Festival of Talent showcases Ventura students, teachers and staff

Madhu Bajaj and Dr. Rice enjoyed the talents of Serena Ropersmith, Kelsa Ropersmith and Kamille Kada.

by Amy Brown

Talent is one of the Ventura Unified School District’s natural resources, as evidenced by this year’s much anticipated Festival of Talent event, “We Got The Beat”, on March 23rd. The show featured a range of dynamic performances, from a big production opening act featuring Ventura Unified School District faculty and staff, along with singing, dancing and specialty acts, to daring aerial trapeze performances. The event held at the Ventura High School auditorium and directed by Beverly and Kirby Ward, is the largest fundraising event for the Ventura Education Partnership (VEP), with 100% of proceeds donated to grants for individual teachers to enhance their curricula.

The audience was large and enthusiastic, and included many friends and families, and members of the school board, as well as the new VUSD Superintendent, Dr. Roger Rice. Each of the 22 performances, some of which included combinations of performances from students, teachers, and school district staff, had to pass a rigorous audition process to be selected for the show. “This year’s Festival of Talent was my first and I was blown away. The talent on stage was incredible and the production flawless,” said Dr. Rice. “The best part of the evening though was how strongly the community supported a program run by the Ventura Education Partnership to fund innovative units developed by teachers that will make education a more compelling experience for stunts.  I can’t wait for next year!”

Ventura Education Partnership is an all-volunteer nonprofit with a mission of connecting community resources to support and sustain innovation in education to benefit VUSD students. It has been providing grants since its inception in 1988, and in the past 10 years alone has provided more than $1.3 million in small grants to VUSD teachers. “VEPGrants provide teachers with amazing ideas a bit of funding needed to bring innovation to their classrooms. These innovations deeply engage students in their learning, promote collaboration and facilitate forward thinking. By supporting VEP, the community is investing directly in enriching the classroom experience for teachers and students,” said Madhu Bajaj, President, Ventura Education Partnership.

Some recent examples of VEPGrants include math and music students collaborating, exploring the intersection of STEAM employing skills in Science (Scientific Method), Technology (CAD software), Engineering (Design Process), Art (Music), and Mathematics (data, scale, symmetry, and ratio) at Anacapa Middle School. At Ventura High, a grant project featured the establishment of a course offered as an introduction to a career pathway in health and patient care careers, teaching biology standards using an emphasis in healthcare. A grant awarded at Lincoln Elementary School provided students with an opportunity to receive sensory input and movement as needed to increase focus, concentration, balance and performance in elementary school.

Through the innovative projects students learn in an environment that places them at the center of their own learning. The classroom becomes a place for exploring new ideas collaboratively with their peers that stresses authentic learning in real world situations.  This type of teaching allows students to not just find the right answers but to find a variety of solutions that are relevant to the curriculum being presented,” shared Kathy Asher, Co-Vice President of Grants.






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