School News: Joyner Elementary Gets Turnaround Arts Grant

By Carolyn Richardson

school news

Joyner Elementary Principal Dr. Akida Kissane-Long, left, with Turnaround Arts: California Executive Director Malissa Feruzzi Shriver at the White House Turnaround Arts Talent Show in May.

Congratulations are in order for South L.A.’s Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary. The school was recently named a recipient of the coveted Turnaround Arts program grant, the only Los Angeles-area school to receive one this year. First Lady Michelle Obama was on hand at the White House Turnaround Arts Talent Show in May, where new schools accepted into the program were announced. Joyner Elementary’s Principal, Dr. Akida Kissane-Long, and Turnaround Arts: California Executive Director Malissa Feruzzi Shriver attended the festivities.

The show opened with the world premiere of a new music video featuring thousands of Turnaround Arts students from across the country alongside Turnaround Artists including Jack Johnson, Chad Smith, Jason Mraz, Elizabeth Banks, Tim Robbins, Yo-Yo Ma, Keb’ Mo’, Josh Groban, Bernie Williams, Misty Copeland, Paula Abdul, Trombone Shorty, Alfre Woodard, Citizen Cope, Doc Shaw, Frank Gehry, John Lloyd Young and Carla Dirlikov. In the video, produced by Playing for Change, students and their artist mentors sing, play and dance to Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People,” making the case that all people deserve to experience the power of arts and music in school.

The mentor artist for Joyner Elementary is Barbara Kruger, a provocative conceptual artist who deals with feminism, consumerism and power in her work. Other notable Turnaround Artist Mentors becoming part of the program in 2016 include Whoopi Goldberg, Kendrick Lamar, Dave Matthews, Larisa Martinex, Sara Bareilles and Smokey Robinson, just to name a few.

“We are incredibly proud of Joyner Elementary principal Dr. Akida Long and her staff for being the only school in the Los Angeles Unified School District to receive the Turnaround Arts grant. We are honored to be representing LAUSD on a national level and are eager to see the arts flourish at Joyner through this program,” said Joan Sullivan, CEO of Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, a network that invests in high-need schools.

As a Turnaround Arts partner school, Joyner Elementary will receive:

  • Parameters for program practice in using the arts to aid school improvement, program requirements, best practices, and accountability reporting and expectations.
  • Invitation to an annual national summer leadership retreat for school teams to plan, receive training, and build a professional learning community among participants.
  • Opportunities for in-school professional development in arts integration for school staff during the school year.
  • Ongoing specialized support for principals and early childhood education coaches.
  • Art supplies valued at up to $4,000 and musical instruments valued at up to $8,000 in the first year.
  • Rights to musical productions.
  • The designation and coordination of activities with a high-profile artist working with the school.
  • Affiliation with the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, managed by Turnaround Arts: California
  • Support for and coordination of public arts events at the school with students, parents, the community, and assigned high-profile artist at least once during the program term.

For more information about the Turnaround Arts program, visit

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  1. This is outstanding! Great job Lesli Akida and wishing you much success with the much needed funding for our kids. Keep it going!


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