Everyday Arts produces collaborative and creative learning opportunities for students and families with diverse needs by providing engaging art-integration Professional Development for educators.
Using the power of the arts to foster human connection, our research-based methodology combines social-emotional learning with arts and academic skills to support student growth.
Everyday Arts is a
501(c)(3) charity -
make a tax-deductible
Students directly impacted by Everyday Arts programs
Educators participating in Everyday Arts workshops
Students indirectly impacted through teacher trainings and education
Who We Are
Vanessa Ramirez is a bilingual and bicultural teaching artist and special education advocate from Guatemala who is skilled in working with culturally diverse populations. She has created and written inclusive curriculum, led professional development workshops, and integrated arts-based strategies for children with special needs through Everyday Arts for Special Education. Ms. Ramirez has a BA in Theatre Education with a Teaching License from UNC, Colorado, and is determined to transform lives through education locally and abroad, having developed bilingual programming in the U.S. and taught in Italy, Mexico, and Guatemala.
Director of Operations and Programs
Noemy Hernandez is an accomplished choreographer, artistic director, and arts administrator with a Certificate in Arts Management from the University of California, Irvine. Ms. Hernandez served as Program Coordinator for Everyday Arts for Special Education, a multi-million dollar program funded by the U.S. Department of Education to support special education professionals in New York City and Los Angeles. As Artistic Director of Calpulli Mexican Dance Company, she has choreographed for Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, The Brooklyn Philharmonic, and the New York Metropolitan Museum. A California native, Ms. Hernandez is also the Managing Director of Calpulli Mexican Dance Company.
Matt Bogdanow is a world-renowned musician, educator, and author of The Backbone of Drumming; A Systematic Approach to Learning the Drumset. He has over a decade of experience working with students with disabilities, including as Master Teaching Artist for Everyday Arts for Special Education, where he led professional development and contributed to the program’s curriculum design. Mr. Bogdanow is a Berklee College of Music graduate, summa cum laude, and has delivered guest lectures on the intersecting fields of special education and the arts at University of California, Loyola Marymount University, and Otis College of Art and Design.
Director of Education and Grants
Laurel Butler is a faculty instructor in the Arts Education Program at Loyola Marymount University and Doctoral student in Social Justice Leadership for Educational and Professional Practice at Antioch University. She has served as Associate Director of UCLA’s Visual and Performing Arts Education program, Arts Education & Social Emotional Learning Specialist for the LA County Office of Education, and Youth Development & Leadership Specialist for the Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network. Ms. Butler received her MA in Theatre Education & Community Outreach from the University of New Mexico in 2010, and is passionate about facilitating creative spaces for young people to use their voices and build community.
Director of Youth Programming
What We Do
Everyday Arts prides itself on delivering fun, hands-on workshops that include collaborative art-making, group discussion, reflective practice, and lesson-planning. Participants learn inclusive teaching strategies, utilizing music, visual arts, drama, and movement activities aligned to the California Arts Standards. Whether in-person or via online learning, we are committed to creating community, fostering social-emotional learning, and providing dynamic, interactive trainings.
Our methodology is based on the Universal Design for Learning, a research-backed framework that optimizes teacher practice by providing multiple means of engagement, representation, and action & expression for their students. Participants also explore the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning “Core SEL Competencies,” which enhance students’ capacity to integrate skills, attitudes, and behaviors to deal effectively and ethically with daily tasks and challenges.
Everyday Arts increases student engagement in online learning environments through inclusive arts integration. Our curriculum is adaptable for a wide range of populations, including students with autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities, emotional disturbance, and learning disabilities, and has been shown to have a positive effect on reaching Individual Educational Plan (IEP) goals.
We offer a variety of customizable program formats aimed at meeting the unique needs of teaching staff, educational leadership, related service providers, and families, including:
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOPS:
Educators (including classroom teachers, teaching artists, and related service providers) learn activities and methodology via a series of workshops throughout the school year.
IN-CLASS COACHING SUPPORT:
Staff collaborates with teachers and related services providers to implement the strategies learned in the workshops, differentiating instruction for all age and ability levels as needed.
Parents and caretakers of students who are either early learners and/or have moderate to severe disabilities are invited to participate in arts activities with their children.
Everyday Arts staff assists in the creation of high-quality, arts-integrated inclusive lessons for educators of students with diverse learning needs.
All Everyday Arts program offerings are available in-person as well as remotely.
How It Works
The research confirmed that arts integration impacts students' social-emotional outcomes in two ways: By providing teachers with simple, easy-to-implement activities that explicitly encourage growth on social-emotional competencies; and by providing teachers with a methodology that encourages student engagement, which in turn encourages social-emotional growth.
Connecting Arts Integration to Social-Emotional Learning among Special Education Students, published in UC Irvine’s Journal of Learning Through the Arts by Lauren Jobson-Ahmed, Rebecca Casciano, and Lina Cherfas, analyzes Everyday Arts for Special Education (EASE), the largest research-based professional development program for special education professionals in the country.
From 2010-2018, the founders of Everyday Arts (Noemy Hernandez, Matt Bogdanow, and Vanessa Ramirez) were instrumental in implementing EASE, serving as Program Coordinator and Lead Teaching Artists for Urban Arts Partnership. At the conclusion of a second U.S. Department of Education grant ($6 million over eight years), Everyday Arts was established as its own separate organization in order to sustain its powerful impact serving Los Angeles County.
Acceptance of change and transition to new activities and environments
- Appropriately communicating needs/wants/feelings
Following simple one to multi-step directions
Makes and indicates choices
Maintains focus on materials and task
Participates in learning activities
Responds to prompts and instructions
Leads other peers in learning activities
Understands new concepts and vocabulary
Respects learning materials and uses them safely
EASE participants made statistically significant gains in the following priority areas that predict sustained positive developmental and emotional wellbeing:
of students mastered communications goals indicated in their
of students mastered socialization goals indicated in their IEP.
of students demonstrated increased motivation, attention span, self-confidence and positive risk-taking.
Source: U.S. Department of Education-funded results from the i3 Research Study (2010-2015) and PDAE Research Study (2014-2018)
Where We Go
“Everyday Arts at Echo Horizon,” provided in 2019-2020 under a contract with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, presented educators with arts-based strategies to provide multiple entry points to learning for students with diverse educational needs.
Originally envisioned as a series of in-person workshops offered to public and private school teachers in Culver City, the program pivoted to an online-learning model due to the pandemic. We had 70 educators enrolled, including arts specialists, special educators, classroom teachers, university faculty, teaching artists, and administrators.
Connecting Los Angeles Voices in Education (“CLAVE”) was a workshop series provided in 2020-2021 under a contract with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts that built on the success of Everyday Arts at Echo Horizon, doubling the number of participants. In order to best serve the wide array of educators in the area, CLAVE comprised three parallel tracks - one for public school teachers from Pasadena Unified School District, one for independent school faculty at Beacon Day School, and one for independent teaching artists.
“iPERFORM” was a year-long theater program at iLEAD Empower Generations Innovations Studios, a public charter high school for pregnant and parenting teens in Lancaster, CA, delivered in partnership with Brimmer Street Theater Company and 4C LAB. iPERFORM participants used their new toolbox of performance skills to collaboratively create a piece of original theater that blended elements of science fiction, time travel, and documentary to tell the story of how we live through the present, and what it might mean for our future. “Zo0m Tru+h C@p$ule: 2045” premiered for a live community audience in 2021, and is now streaming at www.vimeo.com/539773288 - check it out!
Based on self-assessment surveys, iPERFORM students reported significant improvement in Self-Awareness, Self Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision-Making. iPERFORM was made possible by California Arts Council and Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture.
Everyday Arts is currently engaged in a multi-year initiative aimed at creating dynamic and collaborative classroom environments at Beacon Day School, an independent school for students with autism and related disorders, through fun and inclusive arts integration. Through a series of professional development trainings, family workshops, and class visits the Beacon community participated in engaging activities across multiple arts disciplines throughout the 2020-2021 school year, entirely remotely.
At Garfield Elementary School, a public school in Alhambra, Everyday Arts created a custom program to assist with online student engagement in special education classrooms. Based on self- assessment surveys administered to participants at the beginning and end of the program, Garfield teachers reported significant increases in A) their comfort leading arts activities, B) the frequency with which they integrate arts into their teaching practice, and C) the amount of space they create for student interaction in their classes.
Everyday Arts has served as guest artists in LMU’s “Arts Education Approaches for Social Emotional Learning" course for multiple years, leading arts experientials that feature collaborative lessons in a variety of art forms, as well as tools and strategies for adapting the activities to reach students with diverse learning needs. Everyday Arts also contributed to the design and facilitation of a virtual summer art camp for middle school students in 2020 as part of the in response to the COVID-19 pandemic facility closures, providing training to the Department of Marital and Family Therapy/Specialization in Art Therapy graduate students which allowed them to directly reach youth across Los Angeles.
Everyday Arts has been featured at numerous arts and special education conferences, including:
“VSA Intersections: Arts and Special Education Conference,” hosted by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
“Expressive Therapies Summit,” hosted by Expressive Media in partnership with UCLA Arts & Healing.
“Inventing Our Future: Integrated Learning Summer Institute,” hosted by the Integrated Learning Department of the Alameda County Office of Education.
“I've been feeling underwhelmed and this workshop made me excited about teaching again.”
“A huge highlight was seeing how practical the activities are. These activities are not too challenging and can be tailored to meet the physical needs or learning capacity of almost all of our students. These activities also provide me with an opportunity to immerse myself in the learning environment and engage with my students on a level that will build a bridge between me and them.”
“In one of my video lessons, I used your technique of creating signs for clapping, stomping, of course the stop sign and I added a kitten (for loud meowing) and pictures of emotions. I myself ended up in peals of laughter trying to go through these signs and make sounds to go with each! I found out from teachers that the kids were totally engaged and laughing, too, trying to make all the sounds that got faster and faster. I am sincerely, eternally grateful for your clear presentation of these games and techniques that are working for all abilities and ages - and that can be built upon in a happy, easy, and creative way!”
Everyday Arts acknowledges our presence on unceded land traditionally cared for by the Tongva, Kizh, Chumash, and Fernandeño Tataviam peoples. We honor their elders, past and present, and their descendants, who are citizens of the Gabrielino/Tongva Nation, Chumash Nation, Kizh Nation, and the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians. Please take a moment to consider the many legacies of violence, displacement, exclusion, erasure, migration, and settlement that have brought us here. For more information, and to find whose land you’re on, visit www.native-land.ca.
Everyday Arts Racial Equity Statement:
At Everyday Arts, we acknowledge that systemic, institutional, and individual racisms have been bound into the structures of American society, permeating the fields of arts and education alike. With a critical understanding of the ways in which both special education and the arts have historically contributed to racial inequities, we also believe that they can represent spaces of profound anti-oppressive possibility. By bringing an equity-minded lens to our work, we affirm our commitment to equity in service of, and in solidarity with, communities who have been most impacted by oppressive systems.
To us, equity means that “one size fits none”: every individual brings their complete identity to each experience, and our work at the nexus of special education and the arts is designed to provide diverse access points and inclusivity for all. We bring an intersectional framework to our practice, recognizing that marginalization impacts communities of all identity categories; in particular, we recognize that “ability equity” and “racial equity” are interconnected projects, and advocacy for justice in either case can offer a mutually supportive framework for the other. Or, in the words of Maya Angelou, “No one of us can be free until everybody is free.” To this end, we believe in an ecosystemic approach to equity in arts education - by focusing on special education practices, we bring a specialized lens to our partnerships while also situating our work in the larger community effort to move our world towards one of equity and inclusion for all.
Everyday Arts prioritizes partnering with communities with barriers to access, and we are committed to maintaining this practice moving forward. We are also dedicated to uplifting the vision and leadership of women of color within our organization, and continuing to develop and grow our racial justice competencies both individually and as an organization. Finally, we are devoted to processes of accountability and transformative healing, bringing humility and a growth mindset to the continuous project of connecting “equity talk” with “equity walk.” Ongoing integration of words with actions, we believe, is the way to maintain integrity to our values as we deepen our service to the movement for racial justice.