Frost Amphitheater

Calvin Kai Ku, artistic director of the Medical Clown Project, led a circus arts workshop for teachers in February.

A Virtual Return for K-12 Workshops

Each season, Stanford Live serves Silicon Valley’s K–12 educators with professional development workshops presented by some of the Bay Area’s leading teaching artists. The workshops offer fresh approaches to teaching that bring greater creativity and deeper arts learning to children in our community. We support equity and access by providing these at no cost to teachers and hold them both on the Stanford campus and at partner school sites when possible.

As with all other aspects of our organization, we have rethought and reconfigured the workshop series to be as relevant and effective as possible this year, especially when teachers need more support than ever. We moved our 2020–21 workshops online this winter and spring, serving close to 200 teachers from our region and beyond with outstanding professional learning opportunities.

Collaboration is essential during these challenging times, and in February, we were excited to serve as a partner in planning the first-ever online version of the San Mateo County Office of Education’s annual Art Institute. A highlight was the keynote address by Chip Mc Neal, director of diversity, equity, and community for the San Francisco Opera. Mc Neal gave a rousing talk that invited attending teachers to adopt equity-based approaches; to rethink arts learning in the digital age; and, last but not least, to get up and dance, building energy for the day’s immersive programming. This was followed by over 15 workshops emphasizing equity, social-emotional learning, and inventive approaches for both in-person and online classrooms.

During the circus arts workshop, teachers practiced team-building and communication by utilizing movement and camera angles to create the illusion of tossing a crumpled piece of paper from one Zoom participant to another. 

February also brought a workshop on circus arts led by Calvin Kai Ku, artistic director of the Medical Clown Project, which serves hospitals and medical centers throughout the Bay Area. Teachers learned how the circus models collaborative problem-solving within a supportive community and how the four pillars of the circus—teamwork, perseverance, courage, and out-of-the-box thinking—are essential to the 21st-century classroom, especially in a distance-learning environment. Activities designed to cultivate a sense of togetherness—such as “Zoom juggling,” an illusion created by participants rapidly turning video on and off—contributed to a joyful afternoon of learning together. As one participant said, “I can’t believe I’m enjoying myself on Zoom!”

Eddie Madril and Sara Moncada, directors of Sewam American Indian Dance company, led an enlightening session on American Indian arts, history, and culture in March. After welcoming participants with a Kiowa honor song, they shared a brief overview of the enormous spectrum of Native American cultures and highlights of their work as artists and educators. Much of the session featured a Q & A, during which educators could be open about their challenges with teaching this unfamiliar material in a sensitive and respectful manner while sparking student curiosity. Madril and Moncada shared many best practices for introducing Native cultures into the curriculum, and they emphasized that asking students to look into their own backgrounds often produces a deeper understanding of other cultures.

In a March workshop, Eddie Madril and Sara Moncada of the Sewam American Indian Dance company discuss teaching approaches that celebrate and respect Native cultures.

Armando Castellano—French horn player, founder of Quinteto Latino, and lead teaching artist for Stanford Live’s programs in the Ravenswood City School District—closed our series with a “Curate Your Own Concert” workshop. The session presented approaches for students to collaborate in creative music-making and learn core elements of music, such as volume, pitch, and tempo, while making sounds with only their bodies. Castellano contextualized these practices as a basis for student autonomy and agency that are essential for deeper learning. He also explored the model of equity that emerges when each student contributes to a collective decision-making process.

While the artists’ approaches varied widely, it was striking to see similar themes emerge in the workshop content and the conversations with educators that were a valuable part of each session. The leaders of all three workshop emphasized the need for teachers to share a sense of vulnerability with students as they make their way through new ways of learning together. Many teachers have reported that the social-emotional aspects of learning have suffered during shelter-in-place. Our workshop leaders addressed this challenge head-on by highlighting the relationships within a classroom community that can be cultivated even during distance learning and focusing on how the collaborative learning that is possible now can help students thrive when schools return in person.

Stanford Live’s K-12 arts education programs are generously supported by the California Arts Council and the Koret Foundation. Stanford Live’s members provide additional support that is essential to sustaining our K-12 programs. For more information on how to support our K-12 Programs Fund, visit our Support page.


Member Appreciation Night at Frost Amphitheater

We’re deeply grateful to all of our members who offered their support to Stanford Live during this difficult year. As the excitement builds for our return to live events, we’re setting aside a special night at Frost Amphitheater as a thank you to our dedicated members.

Wednesday, May 12 is Member Appreciation Night at Frost, where we’ll offer members at our Patron level and above a free screening of the delightful 2019 film Yesterday. The film’s great music and charming story will provide a joyful night out after our long stretch away from in-person events.

About the film
After a freak accident during a worldwide blackout, struggling musician Jack Malik wakes to discover that he is the only person in the world to remember The Beatles. Using this newfound benefit to his advantage, Jack begins plagiarizing the work of the legendary band to launch his career to superstardom.


Please note that Frost Amphitheater will be operating at a limited capacity to adhere to state, county, and University safety protocols. Socially distanced pods consisting of 1, 2, 4, and 6 seats will be available. Face masks are required for all guests. All sales end at 11:59 PM PT the night before the movie. You can read more about our safety guidelines on our website. 

For more information on how memberships support our work, and the benefits of joining, visit our Membership Page.