Our Stories

Community Champions – PUSD Arts & Theatre Artist Jessica Winward

Job losses due to the coronavirus stay at home orders have far-reaching impacts. According to a recent study by the Brookings Institute, creative occupations in the fine and performing arts will be disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 economy, representing roughly a third of wage employment losses – more than 2.3 million jobs and $74 billion in average monthly earnings. Make no mistake, those numbers represent real people in our entertainment driven community… our neighbors, friends, and family.

Through grant writing support provided by Pasadena Educational Foundation, support from the Giesen Trust (a fund of the Pasadena Community Foundation), and funding by the Advancement Grant from the LA County Arts Education Collective,  theatre teaching artist Jessica Winward was hired to develop curriculum and reinforce students’ engagement in PUSD teachers’ remote classes. Today she continues to create curricular plans and videos for remote learning, support PUSD Arts K-5 and high school teachers, and provide professional development for Arts Lead Teachers. Her work translates into richer, more robust remote classes for our students.

While Ms. Winward is an asset for the school district, PUSD has been a champion for her family as well, as she wrote to tell us. We know proper funding of education changes the lives of children for the better. It changes the lives of others for the better, too.

Read what Jessica had to say in her own words:

Dear Pasadena Educational Foundation,

My name is Jessica Winward and I am one very fortunate teaching artist who has benefited greatly from your generosity to PUSD Arts. The uncertainty of the world is seeping into every aspect of our lives. And when the stay at home order happened all of my theatre education jobs stopped. I was beside myself. My husband is an EMT working on the front lines and it’s been a struggle asking him to carry the additional pressure of providing for us solely in addition to doing the demanding work he was already doing. Thanks to your generous support I am able to continue working and ease the burden on his shoulders. I am forever grateful.

I am a Los Angeles based teaching artist originally from Utah. I got my Bachelors of Fine Art from Southern Utah University. Since my move to LA I have been working with Center Theatre Group, Disney Theatrical Group, A Noise Within, and The Geffen Playhouse. Last summer I was able to connect with Karen Anderson and have been able to do some amazing work with PUSD that has changed the trajectory of my life in many ways.

Last Summer, I spent the entire summer writing theatre arts integrated curriculum for kindergarten through fifth grade. I was tasked with writing four units that covered that grade’s theatre standards and then for each unit write a corresponding lesson for Math, English Language Arts, Science, and History Social Sciences that also corresponds to the time of year that core content was being taught. It was quite an undertaking. By the end of the summer I had created the lessons, a launch unit for each grade with theatre activities, and even a play about fractions. We had multiple Professional Developments where I was able to share these resources with the teachers and show them how to apply them into their classrooms.

All of this work would only have been possible with your generous support. I am very excited to create some corresponding digital content for these lessons to aid our teachers in distance learning for the rest of the school year. Your involvement will not only offer stability in my life but hopefully bring theatre and art into the homes of thousands of children.

Thank you so much.Jessica Winward