Nonprofit Organization:
Collaborations: Teachers and Artists

Building Tenant Since:

Located at the Center for Civic Engagement because:
“It’s almost like a brain trust here. You have the opportunity to sit down and have coffee with someone else in the building who is working on a fascinating project that suddenly gives you a great idea!”
– Dennis Doyle, Ph.D., Executive Director, Collaborations: Teachers and Artists

The skills young people increasingly need to be successful now and into the future are critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity, shares Dennis Doyle, Ph.D., executive director of Collaborations: Teachers and Artists (CoTA).

That’s why CoTA is in a unique position.

“It’s almost as if we’ve been in a dress rehearsal for this moment,” Dennis stressed. “We see that the future will be made by those who have imagination, inspiration and are innovative, whether they be entrepreneurs or not.”

Since 1998, CoTA has followed its mission to help educators teach all academic subjects through different art forms. The concept is based on the belief that integrating the arts — visual arts, dance, music and drama — promotes engagement, accessibility and relevance for elementary school students.

Arts Integration Findings

Arts integration programs have a long list of benefits for teacher and student development alike, including:

  • Teachers are more aware of their own professional growth
  • Students display increased social competence as a result of working together on collaborative arts projects
  • Students are enthusiastic, motivated and focused on their work, and take pride in their creations

“Study after study has shown that integrating the arts is a powerful teaching and learning methodology, and the kids become deeply engaged in their learning,” exclaimed Dennis. “This is really rewarding work.”

CoTA’s Approach to Integrating the Arts

CoTA is no stranger to impact. The organization has collaborated with 1,200 teachers and more than 25,000 students at 41 schools from 6 districts throughout San Diego County.

Take a look at some examples of recent projects:

Whether its teaching science through theater or social studies through photography, all CoTA projects aim to improve student communication skills, sharpen critical thinking, encourage imaginative problem solving, foster teamwork and teach the value of process.

At the end of each 10-week session, students present their learnings to audiences through a performance, exhibition or installation.

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“This is their opportunity to collaborate together, become makers, learn at great depth and communicate effectively,” Dennis noted.

In addition, CoTA organizes teacher, administrator and parent workshops, where participants share the impact of the approach with peers. Their learnings are as valuable as the students’ as they document a shift in the culture of teaching and learning in their classrooms, schools and districts.

“We believe the empowerment of teachers, students and parents, and their ability to grow together, will enable everyone to face a very rapidly changing future,” Dennis emphasized.

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