Irvine Unified School District superintendent honored for promoting rigorous arts education

The Irvine Unified School District and its top administrator were recognized this week for their efforts to strengthen arts education and increase student access.

IUSD Superintendent Terry Walker was presented with the 2016 “O.C. School District with Arts Education on the Rise” award Monday morning during the seventh annual Creative Edge Lecture. The event was held at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa and included such sponsors as OCDE, Boeing and the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

Orange County Superintendent of Schools Al Mijares (left) congratulates Irvine Unified Superintendent Terry Walker. (Photos courtesy of Nick Koon.)

“This is a great honor,” Walker said upon receiving the accolade. “Of course I can’t accept it on behalf of myself, because like any of our school districts, it’s such a reflection of so many other people.”

The Irvine superintendent specifically credited his district’s staff and Board of Education, which, he said, consistently emphasize the value of arts education.

“Fine arts are not just something that’s supplementary to what we’re doing in our classrooms around core subjects,” Walker said. “It is integral.”

Orange County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Al Mijares presented the award, saying the Irvine Unified School District “remains at the forefront of the arts, particularly when it comes to the matter of integration in the classroom.”

“Terry remains a visible and passionate advocate for the arts in all of the schools in Irvine,” Dr. Al Mijares said, “and by the way, his leadership does rub off on all of us, including the other superintendents in our great county.”

Held annually, the Creative Edge Lecture series books noteworthy speakers to discuss the arts and innovation. This year’s keynote presenter was neuroscientist and musician Charles Limb, who has performed extensive research on how the brain works during musical improvisation.

Dr. Limb’s quest to learn more about how humans generate new ideas led him to put jazz musicians and rappers through a functional magnetic resonance imaging scanner, or fMRI. Accompanied Monday by musicians from UCLA’s Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, he spoke about his findings to more than 400 educators and community leaders.

You can learn more about Dr. Limb — and check out his TED talks — here.