A.C.T.O.S in Action! Luis Valdez Leadership Academy 9th – 12th Grade


This is a story about Luis Valdez Leadership Academy, a charter high school on the East Side of San Jose, CA and how they committed to administering A.C.T.O.S. Media Arts program to every student with the hopes of having a specific impact on public speaking, school wide participation and student engagement.

It is important because the local community suffers from major gaps in digital access as well as producing graduates that are prepared for the media skill requirements of higher education.

The program’s success has been led utilizing the arts integration pedagogy known as A.C.T.O.S https://prezi.com/qwcomf5jxn_s/actos-pedagogy-for-module/ , which provides guidance for building intrinsic motivated student-led learning environments. This pedagogical approach is built on the creation of immersive learning environments, which provide engaging visual hands-on lessons geared toward our English Language Learners. Through the use of this pedagogy, A-G approved courses in the Digital Media pathway were created, submitted and approved. The course strand began with ACTOS Digital Media followed by Digital Media II, Advanced Digital Media, and Filmmakers Studio, all utilizing the A.C.T.O.S pedagogy as a foundation.

Time Frame

This project began during the 2014-15 school year and concluded with the 2017-18 school year. Since the charter school was founded in the same year as ACTOS was developed each course within the scaffold was added in each subsequent year. 4 years of implementation was administered where the baseline participants were recipients of the program model from 9th grade through 12th grade.


Luis Valdez Leadership Academy was founded in 2015 as a sister school to The Foundation For Hispanic Education’s pilot school Latino Preparatory College a high school located in North East San Jose. Luis Valdez Leadership Academy (LVLA) provides a rigorous academic curriculum that instills a lifelong passion for learning and equips students with the skills for social and academic success at four-year colleges, universities, and local community colleges. With an emphasis on visual and performing arts, digital media and culturally sustaining pedagogy, LVLA will graduate empowered young adults who are poised, confident and articulate leaders. Our focus on the Spanish language, for both native speakers and learners, enables students to use their education, bi-literacy and life experiences to create positive change in their own lives, families and within their communities.

Key Characters

Jeff Camarillo, the principal of Luis Valdez Leadership Academy, Emiliano Valdez, professional developer and author of the A.C.T.O.S Arts Integration Pedagogy for CCSESA through a partnership with the Monterey County Office of education. Katrina Valdez AME Credentialed Instructor, Eric Gutierrez, professional filmmaker and local artist, and 100 in coming 9th graders from East Side San Jose, CA.


In the inaugural summer of Luis Valdez Leadership Academy, the A.C.T.O.S. Digital Media Arts Program was introduced to founding freshmen at the ribbon cutting of a brand new school in the East Side of San Jose. One hundred students would be introduced to the A.C.T.O.S pedagogy through a hybrid class teaching all freshmen the fundamentals of theatre, dynamic speaking, graphic art, and digital media. Four cohorts of twenty-five students were accessing the work written by their school’s namesake, Luis Valdez, that was raised in the same community as them. The dream of being able to be working artists fighting for social justice seemed to be achievable, knowing that their stories were already on the silver screen and the main stages of Broadway. The visual performing arts department known as El Teatro LVLA was equipped with an iPad and iMac for every student to tell their stories. The program helped develop these students to follow the discipline that sparked their interest in the first year. After year one, three more classes were added. Students now had access to a year long course in, Actos, Digital Media II, Graphic Design and Chicano Theatre. By the end of LVLA’s first inaugural graduating class, the VPA department was thriving with two full time instructors teaching four hundred students the A.C.T.O.S. Arts Integration Pedagogy. Within those four years, students were able to work with San Jose State bringing history to the stage with their El Ecentrico Magazinge series honoring historical figures from the San Jose community.


Students would learn about filmmaking and theatre arts in both its pre and post production processes. It is the A.C.T.O.S approach to building an intrinsic motivation for learning by creating immersive learning environments complimented by real world digital tools and equipment. Part time teaching artists were offered the opportunity to acquire their CTE credentials with the support of the District and the Foundation for Hispanic Education.

Within years 3 and 4 these artists became and remain full time teaching staff of Luis Valdez Leadership Academy.

Students excelled in their Exhibitions and their academic courses where speaking and presenting were integral. When conducting exit interviews many students responded that ACTOS helped them “come out of their shell”. https://www.nbcbayarea.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Luis-Valdez-Leadership-Academy-Milestone_Bay-Area-487336621.html Upon graduation our Media Arts students who took all four years of the media courses enrolled in four year universities that have strong Media Arts and Writing programs. The school itself was transformed into a VPA learning community where most teaching staff began infusing filmmaking into their course work where and when it lent itself.

When looking at the student’s body of work you can really sense that they have found a voice in their immediate learning community. Ranging from spoken word video projects, podcasts, news broadcasts, or live talk shows, the impact of the work is evident.

Sample #1  Spoken Word Video

Sample #2 ACTOS on Stage at SJSU

Why it Matters

Activating their futures while Cultivating their heart, Teaching to Learn, Opening their Minds, and Serving their Learning Community has become second nature to these students. A.C.T.O.S truly accesses what must be accessed in todays classrooms, the need be involved. Luis Valdez Leadership had its first graduation this past June in 2018 and of the 87 seniors, 76% were accepted to colleges and universities both in and out of state. https://1.cdn.edl.io/UjuQmgfIFgypqB0mIh9rSLsWvecLu9qYHWxSKpUEPWIaYnDR.mp4

Each of these students required scholarships to attend these institutions of higher learning and each of these students presented their stories to panels of judges in search of financial assistance. Speaking, presenting, performing, and most of all believing in themselves and their new found voices.

Luis Valdez, the namesake of the school said it best at LVLA’s first graduation commencement, “Creer es Crear” to “Believe is to Create”.

Regional Lead: Hamish Tyler and Jeannine Flores

County: Santa Clara

Contact Name: Emiliano Valdez , Jeff Camarillo, Principal of LVLA (jcamarillo@sjlvla.org)

Contact Email: teatroeducation@gmail.com