The School for the Visual Arts and Humanities is located in the heart of Koreatown, a sub-community of Los Angeles, on the site of the former Ambassador Hotel. The Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools complex hosts six reform-oriented LAUSD pilot schools. While the school is currently located in Koreatown, SVAH initially opened as a pilot school on the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center Complex at the west end of downtown Los Angeles.
SVAH was born out of a desire to create an educational experience for students that would be focused on personalization, a rigorous college preparatory curriculum centered on the visual arts, and an interdisciplinary approach to learning. Prior to its opening, SVAH, formerly known as the Visual Arts and Humanities Academy (VAHA), was a small learning community on the Belmont High School campus. Not satisfied with their ability to positively impact Arts and Humanities students within the existing comprehensive high school structure, Arts and Humanities teachers came together to collectively write and submit a proposal to become a “pilot school,” a reform model from Boston in which smaller schools are part of the larger city school district but more autonomous in operation.
SVAH opened its doors in the fall of 2008 on the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center Complex and remained on the Roybal campus during its first two years in operation until the school’s faculty and staff were presented with a new opportunity. During its 2nd year SVAH relocated to the new Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools site in the fall of 2010. The new RFK campus features an array of state-of-the-art facilities that have allowed the school to expand its instructional capabilities, including additional classrooms, a multimedia lab, and a Parent Center. In addition, the move also opened doors for collaboration with five other pilot schools on site that share a similar vision for the reform of public education.
While SVAH’s program of study has evolved since the school’s inception, it continues to remain true to its vision of social justice-oriented arts education. The School for the Visual Arts and Humanities provides a college preparatory curriculum with an interdisciplinary study of the humanities and offers two pathways in the fine arts and digital media arts. In the fall of 2013, the school’s faculty unanimously approved the adoption of the Linked Learning framework, an education approach that integrates career-based learning into a rigorous college preparatory instructional program, and will be working toward Linked Learning certification during the 2014-15 school year. The school’s decision to implement this framework was due to the faculty and staff identifying a need to foster a strong college- and career-going culture. Since its adoption, SVAH has worked with the district and the Center for Powerful Public Schools to support the implementation of Linked Learning. With the support of CPPS, teachers at SVAH have received professional development that addresses pathway development, project-based learning, and outcome development and implementation. Linked Learning has been a vehicle for the systemic inclusion of career-based learning as well as the clear articulation of our Expected School-wide Learning Results (ESLRs), now referred to as our Pathway Outcomes.