S.B. Kids Art Presentation At Orange Show
By Dianne Anderson
Under Keith Brockie at Arroyo Valley High School, the student becomes the teacher, and vice versa.
One of the best aspects of teaching at San Bernardino Unified School District has been watching students that he has taught grow successful in their fields, and return as teachers.
“Now they’re on campus working as teachers with me. That’s what 26 years of teaching will do, you see the cycles come through,” said Brockie, who has been on Arroyo faculty since the high school opened in 2001.
Soon, it will be interesting to see how students across the district have emotionally processed their art over the past year.
Starting Wednesday, April 20, The district is showcasing their works at the National Orange Show. The community can get a sampling of what the kids are thinking lately.
“There’s been a lot of students trying to express issues with their mental health. We still see a lot of the more typical pop culture stuff into their work, icons, important people. We see some darker imagery in the last couple of years,” he said.
Some art includes concepts of isolation with students all alone, or wearing masks. Last year, he said their art show was successful, although completely virtual. This year, he said the Orange Show promises a great venue.
“We’ve been in school in person the whole year. What came out of it is exciting but kind of scary. We’ve had issues with some students having to be out a long time, or families sick, having to return to Mexico or for funerals,” he said.
Teachers have selected art entries from students grades 6-12 within the district, with each submitting 25 art pieces across a variety of categories for the Orange Show display. Outside judges will select the winners, and students will receive awards, prizes and free tickets for themselves and their families.
Brockie teaches sculpture and ceramics and other three-dimensional materials, in addition to the higher-level International Baccalaureate program for high academic students working toward a special IB diploma, which is offered outside of the academy.
He also serves as Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) department chair at Arroyo Valley High School, where the program offers a four-year study and technical development in performing arts, across visual, music, theater and dance programs.
For students who sign up with VAPA for the whole four years, the academy fulfills one of the college readiness A-G requirement for visual arts. However, he said the goal isn’t just about developing painters or potters, but that creativity can be applied to any discipline.
“We’re trying to build a strong foundational sequence, challenge them in [grades] 10 and 11, and put together strong capstone art experiences at art shows and competitions and festivals to really bring it home at the end and give them a really rich experience,” he said.
That creative process also easily carries over into business, marketing, and especially engineering, he added. Most STEM programs left the art component out of their outreach for years, but they now realize that it’s essential for ideas and design.
“It’s important that students get a little of all of that, the creative side opens the door for more solutions,” said Brockie, also a program specialist demonstration teacher at the district, meaning he teaches other art teachers how to teach.
“We work with them, we have additional roles to play, working with the teachers getting them prepared for the district art show. I do a lot of outreach, my door is open for teachers in our district to contact me and work with me on things,” said Brockie, who also teaches at California State University, San Bernardino.
The last couple of years have been incredibly stressful for both students and teachers, but he said that the teachers also know that art classes and programs are a big part of the reason why many students want to come to school.
Brockie is also a recent recipient of the California League of Schools State High School Educator of the Year award for his role in securing arts resource funding through the pandemic, and distributing thousands of art kits for every student in middle school and high school enrolled in an art class. His winning speech was about how much he has learned from his students.
He said that probably the greatest lesson learned over the past 26 years of teaching is from the perspectives he’s gained about the community. There are cultural celebrations that come in many different ways, figurative sculptures, a wide gamut of beautiful forms from earlier and past recollections.
“Celebrating holidays I never heard of before, the Day of the Dead and Kwanzaa,” he said. “To understand where they were they coming from, to see the world thru their eyes, I began to understand what I needed to do to provide for them.”