Visual & Performing Arts

Equity, access, and excellence in arts education for every student in every school is the vision and the goal of the Visual and Performing Arts Department (VAPA) of the San Francisco Unified School District.

Bringing the Arts into the Classroom

Bringing the arts into the classroom and students to the arts in our powerfully creative and artistically diverse community, we seek to build and enhance 21st-century skills and to encourage students, teachers, and parents to view themselves as lifelong learners who are inspired by the arts and act as creative participants in our school communities. Viewing the arts both as stand-alone subjects taught by credentialed specialists and as powerful partners to academic subjects through interdisciplinary and arts-infused classes, we work to teach the whole child and prepare all of our students for fulfilling lives and jobs in the coming years.

Harness the Power of Imagination

Thinking in new and creative ways, strengthening our students' unique, creative voices, and allowing them to take risks, improvise, and work both individually and in ensembles, we use arts education to harness the power of the imagination to prepare our students to participate in meaningful ways in their own future communities, jobs, and families.

We also provide dynamic professional development for teachers and administrators to enhance their classroom practice and to inspire them as creative leaders in the educational process.

Elementary Music

The mission of the elementary music education is to engage the student in active learning while exploring movement and sound through excellent folk and composed materials.

Children in kindergarten through grade five experience a variety of learning activities in moving, speaking, singing, listening, playing, reading, creating/improvising, and evaluating. This is an active, music-making curriculum that enables all children to experience success in creating and performing music in all of the following strands of the curriculum:

  • Rhythm—beat and rhythmic patterns
  • Melody—singing songs and reading melodies
  • Harmony—playing instruments and performing more than one part at a time
  • Form—studying phrases and the parts of music
  • Expressive Qualities—creating movement, studying instrument families, and listening to various styles of music

Elementary Visual Arts

The mission of elementary visual art education is to engage the student in active learning while exploring student understanding and appreciation of art.

Since the program's inception, the district has implemented a discipline-based art curriculum. Students achieve the understanding and appreciation of art in the following four visual art disciplines:

  • Aesthetics—making inquiries into the nature of art
  • Art Criticism—interpreting meaning and making judgments concerning the quality of works of art
  • Art History—studying the culture and history of works of art
  • Art Production—creating imaginative, personal works of art using a wide range of materials and techniques