Celena Turney

Building Capacity in Arts Teaching and Learning: A Process-Centered Partnership for Schools and Arts Organizations

Building Capacity in Arts Teaching and Learning: A Process-Centered Partnership for Schools and Arts Organizations

To collaborate with this provider, contact:

Celena Turney
Founding Consultant

2343 Pier Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90405





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Creative Capacity Builders is led by Celena Turney, an international performing dance artist, educator, and administrator with over 30 years experience. Her work in LA and Ventura Counties has reached 8 school districts and impacted over 1 million students. Ms. Turney was an Elementary Dance Teacher/ Peer Coach for LAUSD and a VAPA Coordinator for Las Virgenes USD. She serves as a strategic planning coach for Arts for All and is well-versed in TOPS® facilitation, cognitive coaching, and blended coaching methods. Creative Capacity Builders is committed to leading inspired change through the arts by providing ‘best practices’ in strategic planning, program design, curriculum services, professional development and program evaluation.

Program Objectives

Strategic Planning Services: Using facilitative coaching methods, teams will craft and implement a customized Professional Development Plan that meets the school district’s articulated needs for arts Whether a grade level team, school site arts team, or district task force, teams will 1) gather and analyze data, 2) determine priorities for professional development, and 3) implement an action plan that aligns with state mandates, district initiatives, and current funding realities. Teams will develop leadership capacity through their experiences with visioning exercises, consensus building activities, action planning processes, and collaboration methods.

Instructional Services: Using blended coaching tools, participants will deepen their understanding about how to deliver instruction that reflects Best Practices in arts education. For teaching artists and classroom teachers (who teach integrated arts lessons): Job-embedded professional development designed to hone one’s practice in arts instruction through individual goal setting, cognitive coaching, classroom observations, and the application of new learnings into lesson planning, instructional delivery, and personal reflection. A review of effective teaching strategies and VAPA standards form the foundation of this component.

Program Evaluation Services: Utilizing executive coaching, administrative leaders will learn how to incorporate Evaluation into their Professional Development Plan’s design and implementation cycles. Those involved with planning and delivering instruction in the arts will gain insight into the myriad of ways to measure professional growth over time, strategies for staying accountable to stated instructional objectives, and the importance of rigorously-executed and regularly-scheduled program evaluation practices. Participants will plan for ways to evaluate their own PD offerings and practices in the context of classroom relevancy and student outcomes.

Creative Capacity Builders supports teachers and administrators in building capacity for the arts using a multi-faceted approach towards instruction and delivery. Participants will have ample opportunities to critically assess the current reality of their site plans and instructional methods, unpack the pedagogy that forms the foundation for high quality arts instruction, and apply new learnings to PD Plan development, sequential lesson planning, and PD evaluation.


Initial planning and consultation meetings with key members will determine participants, project scope and depth, timeline, anticipated deliverables, specific learning outcomes, and fee schedules. Each objective component will include facilitated instruction, hands-on learning opportunities, review of the current research, artful discussions, consensus building activities, and time for PD planning and/or curriculum development. Project evaluation will take place during the contract period and for one year following to assess how new learnings are being put into practice. Participants will receive on-line support and guidance for one-year after program completion.


The conceptual framework for this professional development offering is Steve Seidel’s work, “Qualities of Quality”. His discussion about how to achieve excellence in arts education by looking through the lens of pedagogy is particularly relevant. We’ll also study “Schools that Learn” by Peter Senge; a resource for the field about how to grow a school learning community. The California Standards for Visual and Performing Arts as well as the framework for 21st Century Learning will provide an educational framework in which to understand standards-based instruction in the arts. “Cognitive Coaching: A Foundation for Renaissance Schools” by Arthur Costa and Robert Garmston will inform individual coaching conversations. Manuscripts published on behalf of the work done by Arts for All will deepen our knowledge of arts education within Los Angeles County.

Participants' Experience

In every customized professional development partnership in arts education, participants will be invited to look at their current practice, articulate their anticipated learning and evaluate their progress towards those goals as they proceed through the project. In the job-embedded coaching model, teachers will also have pre-observation consultations, classroom observations, feedback sessions, and then follow-up observations to look for applications of the new learning. In the more wide-reaching, capacity-building professional development model for school sites and arts organizations, teaching teams led by Celena Turney and a teaching artist will de-mystify high quality arts instruction through hands-on arts learning lessons. Participants will deconstruct the pedagogy embedded within each experience, articulate its instructional intent, apply those methods in their own teaching, and talk about ways to nurture creativity in the classroom. Reflection and the transfer of new learning to classroom practice are critical components of every professional development opportunity offered by Creative Capacity Builders.

Classroom Relevancy

Throughout the professional development partnership, participants will have created customized action plans, understood and practiced classroom observation protocols, crafted criteria charts for lesson design, engaged in constructive feedback conferences, and gleaned ways to review their own progress. Each of these components is designed to impact students’ experience in the classroom because of teachers’ and administrators’ improved understanding/delivery of arts instruction and work on aligning arts curriculum to stated program goals and outcomes.

Effective Teaching Strategies

Every part of a lesson has its purpose, whether it is a mini-lesson, guided practice, independent work, pre-lesson anticipatory set or post-lesson wrap-up. Participants will learn about and practice the most effective strategies for instructional delivery of each component.

Leadership Development

Participants will learn how to 1) build a common language for talking about and understanding arts pedagogy in the classroom, 2) communicate effectively about arts teaching and learning to other teachers, administrators, parents, community members, and potential funders, and 3) plan for ways to make arts-learning visible.

Lesson Planning and Unit Design

Participants will understand how to design arts-infused units that achieve the greatest outcomes for student learning by starting the planning with the ‘Big Idea’ and working backwards to the lesson detail. Mapping for classroom instruction includes planning for outcomes in student learning, the application of content standards, authentic arts integration into other content areas, and the identification of teaching methods. By keeping these elements at the forefront of every experience, it is ensured that classroom relevancy will be achieved. Participants will be given multiple opportunities to research ‘best practice’ curriculum models to better understand the progression and sequence of arts learning and apply it to their own arts education offerings.

VAPA Standards

Using the standards as a framework for building instructional plans, reflecting on teaching practices, and evaluating program rigor are important parts of this professional development experience. Participants will also learn how to guide students to unpack their own learning through the use of standards-based vocabulary. Administrators will learn how to look for and guide their teaching staff in the effective use of standards-based instruction.