Three struggling elementary schools in Broward County will be getting star treatment.
Three performers, including actress Cameron Diaz, will help bring arts education to Lake Forest Elementary in Pembroke Park, Mary M. Bethune Elementary in Hollywood and Walker Elementary in Fort Lauderdale next year.
It is part of a growing White House initiative to use the arts to fix failing schools, officials said Wednesday. Broward was the only Florida school district chosen.
The band at Bethune Elementary School performs during the school’s open house. (Robert Duyos, Sun Sentinel)
“All children deserve to have access to the arts, not only to discover their passion, but as a tool to engage them in the joy of learning,” Diaz said. “I look forward to working to inspire the students at Bethune Elementary … to discover and reach for their dreams.”
John Lloyd Young, an actor and singer known for his role in Broadway’s Jersey Boys, will work with Walker Elementary. Carla Dirlikov, an opera singer, will partner with Lake Forest. Both schools are F-rated. Bethune received a C last year.
The three-year partnership will bring art supplies to the schools, extensive training for teachers, and will incorporate art and music into core subjects like math and reading.
The celebrities will make multiple visits to the schools — teaching classes, meeting with parents and sending video messages to students when they are away. Each performer will work differently with each school, depending on the students’ needs.
Actress Sarah Jessica Parker works with schools in Portland, Ore., and Minneapolis, sending cupcakes, and video-conferencing with the kids. Actress Kerry Washington works with a school in Inglewood, Ca., where she attends student performances and works with students during class. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma frequently visits his Boston school, conducting workshops, classes and performing for students.
“Giving [students] this creative outlet through the arts, whether it’s in the classroom or in the music room, it’s going to get them to want to be part of a group and collaborate,” said Sharon Boyd, principal at Lake Forest. “I can see it helping because it’s going to really assist those students in wanting to be engaged in their learning.”
She said math classes could incorporate things like drumming, rhythms and beats. Boyd said she was looking forward to working with Dirlikov, whose mother is Mexican and father is Bulgarian, because many of her students are diverse and transient.
“Getting the students to see someone successful who has travelled the world … it can really help the students understand what it’s like to come from a place where you might not have a lot” and still succeed, she said.
The Turnaround Arts Initiative is already in effect at 49 schools in 14 states, with schools generally increasing their academic performance and student attendance. The program began in 2012 with eight underperforming schools.
Schools will receive $25,000 to purchase art supplies and musical instruments. Districts and local partners will also contribute resources to the schools.
“When children learn using creative skills, it’s often something that they remember, it’s something that really sticks with them,” said Jan Goodheart, vice president of external affairs at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.
The high-profile celebrities will also “bring a high level of energy” and raise excitement for the program.
Mary Schmidt Campbell, vice chairwoman of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, said participating schools were showing marked improvement.
“We designed programs that would demonstrate that if well-designed art programs were in the public schools, they could turn around those schools,” she said.
Singer Josh Groban has been working with a school in Chicago since last year. He said he benefited from arts programs at his high school and knows how influential exposure to the arts can be.
“So many of the programs I was lucky enough to have were being cut at a really drastic rate,” he told reporters Wednesday. “The students that needed them the most were getting them the least.”
Joel Madden has reportedly been “leaning on” Cameron Diaz for support in fighting for Nicole Richie.
The rocker and fashion designer tied the knot in 2010 and they have daughter Harlow and son Sparrow together.
There are rumors of trouble in their marriage at the moment, with Nicole being spotted out without wearing her wedding ring recently. While both appear to be putting on a united front on social media by posting cute photos of one another, it’s thought things aren’t in good shape.
Joel has apparently been relying on sister-in-law Cameron, who’s married to his brother Benji, for help.
“Joel is determined to fight for Nicole. He’s been leaning on Cameron, saying he doesn’t want to give up on the marriage. He says he’ll do whatever he can to prove his devotion to her and their family,” an insider told British magazine Closer.
Meanwhile Cameron has apparently been “begging” her pal to not throw what she has with Joel away, even inviting Nicole to stay with her while she thinks things over. The former reality star is said to have been open about her marriage woes with friends, admitting she and her husband have been drifting apart over the last few months.
This could be in part due to Joel’s stint as a judge on The Voice Australia, meaning he spends long periods away from home.
In contrast, things appear to be going well for Cameron and Benji, who got hitched at the beginning of this year. The couple are apparently keen to start a family and those close to the blonde beauty are sure it’s bound to happen soon.
“Having a baby has been something she’s dreamed of since meeting Benji and she’s happier than ever,” a source added.
Cameron Diaz spent a casual Saturday with husband Benji Madden staying low key in baggy comfortable clothing and going makeup free.
The Hollywood star, 42, and the rock musician, 35, were spotted leaving their Brentwood home for their outing.
Cameron looked fresh faced with her blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail and a pair of diamond studs in her ears. The Charlie’s Angels star wore a black top and baggy black pants with a long baggy off-white cardigan for the trip out. She had a black leather purse slung across her body and carried a cloth black and white bag over one shoulder. She was also seen holding empty glass bottles with stoppers. Her husband of five months was dressed all in black with pants tucked into his boots and a baseball cap.
The pair said their surprise ‘I dos’ in a small private ceremony in January after dating for a year. Earlier in the day on Saturday, the actress accompanied her sister-in-law Nicole Richie on a grocery run to Whole Foods in Beverly Hills. Nicole was seen pushing the shopping cart without her wedding ring on her finger, sparking more rumors that her marriage to Benji’s brother Joel Madden could be on the rocks. But Cameron seemed upbeat and chatty as she walked around the organic supermarket with the former Simple Life star. Cameron and Benji have remained pretty much under the radar since their wedding and have only been photographed in public together a handful of times.
It seems that the star of such box office hits as The Mask and Shrek is keen to embrace married life and possibly pursue her dreams of motherhood. Apart from being attached to Bad Teacher 2, the actress’s work commitments are light right now suggesting that she’s deliberately clearing her schedule.
With her close friends Drew Barrymore and Reese Witherspoon busy raising their children it’s likely that Cameron too is hoping to hear the patter of tiny feet before too long.
Back in January, Cameron Diaz married Benji Madden in a low-key ceremony that took place in her backyard.
Diaz and Madden dated for just eight months before getting hitched, and the wedding was particularly surprising, as Diaz had gone on record as saying she had no interest in getting married.
Now, it seems that she’s wishing she’d stuck with her original decision and continued to roll solo:
“They were so smitten and now their relationship is unraveling just as fast as it started,” a source tells Star magazine.
Part of the problem, it seems, is that Benji initially led Cameron to believe that he desperately wanted kids. Now that it’s time to make with the babies, sources say he’s having second thoughts.
So much for those rumors of Diaz being pregnant and a shotgun wedding.
In addition to the baby debate, Madden and Diaz have reportedly had issues with everything from her past (He doesn’t feel like he measures up to the various A-list dudes she’s dated) to her career.
Yes, sources say Benji has pulled the ultimate douche move and begun advising Cameron on her career. Let that sink in for a moment: Benji freakin’ Madden is advising Cameron Diaz on her career!
“Benji has been nagging Cam to get her career back on track and focus on more serious roles, instead of romantic comedies,” says one insider.
He reportedly pushed her to set up a meeting with her agents (which he also attended) and they were spotted leaving the agency separately.
Looks like Benji might soon be regretting that “Cameron” tattoo.
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