San Diego County Office of Education Juvenile Court and Community Schools


In San Diego County Office of Education Juvenile Court and Community Schools (SDCOE JCCS), the transformative power of arts education is evident in the tailored programs designed to engage and inspire. Through collaborative projects and community involvement, students are encouraged to explore their potential, building not only artistic skills but also social and emotional competencies crucial for their reintegration into society.


JCCS VAPA Technician, Community Arts Provider Teaching Artists, and JCCS Classroom Teachers and Administrators meet regularly to implement and monitor arts residencies within the JCCS classroom. JCCS relies upon community artists to assist classroom teachers in providing a well-rounded arts curriculum. Students earn Fine Arts credits when applicable, or elective credits in JCCS VAPA courses that allow them to matriculate with a WASC accredited diploma. JCCS currently has 50 VAPA courses, 15 of which meet the “F” requirement for A-G accreditation, with more coming in 2024.

The COVID provided challenges in arts programming, however each of our partners was able to successfully continue classes, with classroom teachers reporting student virtual attendance was higher on days VAPA courses were scheduled.

Playwright’s Project (PWP)

An example of partnership is Playwright’s Project (PWP) that works with faculty and staff to integrate playwriting instruction with the district’s Project Based Learning curriculum. Teaching artists collaborate with the classroom teachers to plan instruction and delivery to meet curricular goals. Each student creates a portfolio of scenes and monologues; students then progress to writing one-act plays. Students use theatre vocabulary to identify and discuss dramatic elements, take part in group acting exercises, creative writing, read aloud and critique work. Guest artists visit the classrooms to perform and discuss work in progress; system-involved alumni of the program visit to share their writing, speak of their experiences, hear student work, and provide authentic responses as credible messengers. Professional actors perform students’ writing at the end of the program.

In circumstances when a student’s placement or schedule necessitates flexibility, PWP has successfully adapted residencies for distance learning by providing Google worksheets to students with access to computers, or handouts to students in detention facilities with instruction streamed into the facility or to students’ individual devices. This format may also be applied to JCCS’s music and media arts collaborations.

Other Community Partnerships

In addition to classroom opportunities, community partnerships offer internships, opportunities for professional mentorship, and hands-on experiences. For example JCCS’s partnership with the La Jolla Playhouse Technical Theater residency week allows incarcerated youth and community school students to attend seminars at the playhouse taught by union theatrical designers.

JCCS has seen great success in Project Based Learning with a focus on standards- driven arts integration. The JCCS Design Jam is a product of instructional coaches, teachers, arts partners, and community partners collaborating to create themes and essential questions that empower students to demonstrate their content learning and skill development. Students participate in the Design Jam by exhibiting their projects to an audience of staff, students, and community members. In partnership with community arts organizations, students have successfully exhibited and performed both in-person Jams prior to Covid (e.g., focused on Design Thinking) and virtually. Teachers in every academic discipline (including CTE and VAPA) determine which portions of their content they will teach through the lens of each theme (e.g. science through the lens of environmental justice) while also collaborating with an arts partner that allows students to grow their knowledge and experience of an arts modality through the same lens (e.g., teach photography through the lens of justice and equity). Providing access to integrated arts experiences throughout the core content curriculum helps to foster student growth, preparation for 21st century work readiness, and support the LCAP.

More stories from SDCOE’s Juvenile Court and Community Schools.

District Name: San Diego County Office of Education

School Name: Juvenile Court and Community School

County: San Diego