Just as she moves an audience with the sound of her rich mezzo-soprano, Myran Parker-Brass deftly persuades teachers, administrators, and directors of arts organizations to take action in service of a higher calling: bringing top-notch arts instruction to every child in the Boston schools. Four years ago, when Parker-Brass joined the 58,000-student district to be its executive director for the arts, there were about 165 arts teachers for 130 schools, and fewer than half of the city’s high school students were getting in-school arts instruction. Since then, she has doubled the number of arts teachers in the district, dramatically expanded the percentage of students who are learning theater, dance, music, and visual arts during the school day, and watched as principals have become some of the strongest advocates for ensuring arts instruction stays in their schools. A former director of education for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and still-active performer, Parker-Brass admits her current gig is the toughest she’s ever had. “Is this the harder side of the aisle? Yes, much,” she says. “We’re growing our own; we’re making artistically literate citizens. But this is the better side of the aisle.” This video was produced as part of Education Week’s Leaders To Learn From project, recognizing outstanding school district leaders from around the country.
Coverage of leadership, expanded learning time, and arts learning is supported in part by a grant from The Wallace Foundation, at www.wallacefoundation.org. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.