“Theater arts can represent all the business community’s desirable traits,” says Michele Hillen-Noufer. “The personal skills needed for business — communication, collaboration, creativity — can be gained in theater arts. People must communicate and work well in teams, and have self confidence and self-knowledge, and that’s what theater arts teaches.”
Northern California School of the Arts provides holistic, individualized and professional theater arts training programs, supporting young artists from diverse communities to create, express and participate in theater arts educational opportunities. Through arts engagement, students are empowered to embrace social-emotional learning strategies and advocacy while creating a positive mindset towards themselves and their community.
As executive director, Hillen-Noufer brings decades of theater background and a master’s degree in education to oversee NorCal’s programming to 4,000 students across 23 schools throughout Sacramento City Unified School District. A $135,000 CARES Act grant from the City of Sacramento launched NorCal into 70 SCUSD classrooms in the 2020-21 school year. NorCal’s classroom count has more than doubled to 150 classrooms within the 2021-22 school year, due to the district’s enthusiasm for the programming.
“Standing and speaking to a group can be critical in business, and if children are introduced to this early, it’s a tremendous boost to their comfort, confidence and capabilities,” Hillen-Noufer says. “We weave social-emotional learning strategies into all of our programs, which include The School Outreach Program, Summer Camps and Classes, The Performing Arts Corps, College Counseling and The Leadership Institute. We’re highlighting life lessons, coping skills, leadership skills, conflict resolution and more through lessons, theater games and exercises.”
NorCal programming aligns with state curriculum standards and by introducing students to an artistic process, it encourages the empathy and broader perspective that’s so important to building community. Hillen-Noufer concludes, “This is an incredibly difficult time for students and NorCal programs continue to expand with the goal of building resiliency and optimism in the youth of our region.”