Sacramento County Office of Education: Empowering and Inspiring Students Through Arts Education


The Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) has a vision to “Empower, inspire, and provide pathways for learners to thrive personally, within their communities, in college, and in careers.” As part of this vision, SCOE schools, including the schools in the Youth Detention facility (El Centro Jr./Sr. High School and the Valley Oak Youth Academy) and our community schools (Nathanial S. Colley Jr./ Sr. High School, Elinor Lincoln Hickey Jr./Sr. High School and North Area Community School), incorporate the arts as an integral educational component of an equity focused, engaging learning experience. These arts programs facilitate students opportunities for success in college and career. This vision comes into action in a variety of ways: standards-based arts instruction, arts integrated learning, and arts engagements and experiences presented through community-based partners and local area artists. Through Prop 28, SCOE will be expanding the certificated arts teaching staff to increase access to single subject arts instruction. 

SCOE’s Arts Integration Coordinator, Jasmin Martinez, works to support teachers in the development of integrated arts lessons. She supports lesson design, lesson implementation, and works alongside teachers as they implement instruction that builds and demonstrates students’ understanding in both an art form and non-arts subject area. In addition, she supports professional learning opportunities for local artists to lead arts subject-specific learning alongside teachers to integrate arts into instruction. 


SCOE engages a wide range of artists with diverse expertise and backgrounds bringing an array of perspectives and experiences to SCOE youth. Strong partnerships such as the Kennedy Center’s Any Given Child Program and the SCOE developed City of Sacramento partnership, Sacramento Healthy HeARTS and Minds support SCOE schools in ensuring the arts for all youth.

Milton Bowens painting the mural at El Centro with an advanced art student.

Some area artists like Milton 510 Bowens work in all SCOE programs in a variety of ways. Bowens presents weekly lessons focused on integrating social studies concepts, marketing, and entrepreneurship with visual arts standards embedded. Last year, students participated in multiple activities that integrated social studies concepts into art. First, NikeTM students designed their own tennis shoes, which they then painted. Secondly, students participated in a tee-shirt design contest. As a final project, students designed and painted murals at three schools. The mural at Nathanial S. Colley was a tribute to one of Sacramento’s greatest civil rights leaders and the school’s namesake. The mural at Elinor Lincoln Hickey was designed as a tribute and celebration of the Sacramento area. The mural at El Centro depicts a vision for the youth coming into the facility and includes a focus on a pathway to future goals. Artist Tee Sandifer works with young women in El Centro using physical movement as a release for emotions, while also providing learning around wellness, finance, and women’s empowerment. Professor Trouble, a local spoken word artist, works to ensure that youth increase their literacy and their comfort with public speaking while helping them cope with trauma in the process. 

Mr. Bowens teaching a lesson in one of SCOE's CARE classrooms.
Mr. Bowens working with students on their mural at Elinor Hickey Jr./Sr. High School

The organization, 916 Ink, works with youth to increase their capacity as writers and to tell their stories in the form of published anthologies. Participating in art not only sustains the creative flow of energy and helps students express their voice, but it also allows them to shine in an area of personal strength. While working on a mural, one student discovered their natural leadership ability and began to guide and instruct other students in the mural work. SCOE understands the importance of arts-specific subject matter and arts integration to help students develop their identities as part of their education.

District Name: Sacramento County Office of Education

County: Sacramento