Oklahoma City finance academy banks on building its arts program

The new art teacher at John Marshall High School has cobbled together community support to buy $10,000 worth of pottery equipment for the school. But her school is known for something besides art — its new finance academy.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL ccoppernoll@opubco.com Published: February 4, 2013
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Kyla Kaufman teaches art in a school known for math.

She teaches drawing and painting at John Marshall High School, which launched its specialty finance academy of this year. But even students who want to grow up to be bankers and investors need to express themselves, she said.

“The kids need an outlet,” Kaufman said. “It's therapeutic for them. They're not worried about everyday life.”

Six district high schools have career specialty academies, and another will be added next year. Eventually, every high school will offer an academy.

But even as the academy program expands, students still need a well-rounded experience, said Verna Martin, associate director of secondary schools.

“Middle and high school students have multiple interests,” Martin said. “Offering a variety of courses empowers the students to discover their strengths and interests.”

This year, 50 freshmen enrolled in the John Marshall finance academy, Principal Aspasia Carlson said. As they age and more grades are added, the program will expand. The school also has plenty of students who aren't in the finance academy; they live in the area and attend the regular high school program.

“We have students here who are artists and poets and songwriters,” Carlson said. “We have to be able to serve them, too.”

John Marshall has strong performing arts classes — drama, dance and music. Last year, art was considered a blowoff class. Kyla Kaufman was hired to take over the program and revamp it. She told the students she meant business.

“We had a big influx in and a big influx out,” Kaufman said.

This year, all students are in the same general art class, but next year, Kaufman plans to offer Art I and Art II. Eventually, she hopes to offer Advanced Placement Art.

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The focus right now is on technology, getting kids reading for college and career. By the same token, we don't want to forget about the importance of creativity. There's something to be said for hands-on creation.”

Aspasia Carlson,
Principal of John Marshall High School

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