Northern California School of the Arts provides holistic and professional theater arts training programs, supporting young artists from diverse communities to create, express and participate in theater arts educational opportunities. With a focus on Title 1 schools, NorCal brings its programs to school districts to help address relevant issues that young people face today through the arts.
The pandemic did not prevent NorCal from thriving, though the school was launched in 2020. “Our programs are in high demand and we’re growing rapidly,” says Executive Director Michele Hillen-Noufer. “We’ve presented programs in several regional school districts, including Elk Grove Unified, Folsom Cordova Unified and Twin Rivers Unified, but our biggest partner so far has been Sacramento City Unified School District. NorCal teaching artists were in 150 SCUSD classrooms in the 2021-22 school year and will expand to 280 of their classrooms and 35 school sites in the after-school space in 2022-23.”
“Our passion is to help young people, especially those who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to participate in theater arts, to fully realize who they are and to gain life skills.” — Michele Hillen-Noufer, Executive Director
As this arts education organization collaborates with school districts, teachers as well as students benefit from the programs. After her students participated, SCUSD teacher Natalie Zarza said, “Students with a lot of energy who struggle academically and are often mentally distracted were fully engaged. They were so motivated to contribute.”
NorCal School of the Arts offers after-school programs, in-school residencies, professional development for teachers, summer camps, performance opportunities and a nine-month training program called The Performing Arts Corps, which includes college counseling and a leadership training program. NorCal is pleased to provide teaching artists with a variety of employment opportunities, including a comprehensive training program through NorCal’s Teaching Artist Hub.
“Our passion is to help young people, especially those who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to participate in the theater arts, to fully realize who they are and to gain life skills,” Hillen-Noufer says. “Through theater arts, we teach collaboration, communication, creativity, and we address student identity, activate student voices, and bring culturally responsive content to the forefront.”