Virtual Conference

Arts In Your Classroom 2021

CARE: Compassion, Courage, and Creativity for Educators in a Time of Crisis

Saturday, March 6, 2021, 9AM


VENUE: Online

Service fees may apply and are non-refundable.
Montalvo donor discounts are offered on select events; donors, please Log In to access special ticket prices. Box Office is open one hour prior to all show times.

Arts In Your Classroom
Photo: Gege Xu


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The coronavirus pandemic has caused an unprecedented crisis in the field of education. 

Teachers, students, and families are facing formidable challenges with the suspension of in-person learning. Educators are subject to extraordinary pressures as they are tasked with deploying distance and hybrid learning modalities and creating engaging virtual classrooms while preparing for in-person teaching that is safe and supportive. Students are faced with disruption to their education through a loss of normalcy as they struggle with uncertainty and isolation. Families are enduring unique, and in many cases compounded, stressors as parents’ juggle keeping their children on track while managing the daily responsibilities of maintaining a household, all while cut off from their usual systems of support. 

These challenges have magnified the inequities in our school systems—and our society. They have also raised concerns about the health and wellbeing of educators and the communities they serve.

Montalvo Arts Center’s 19th annual Arts in Your Classroom Conference is intended to bring educators together through a shared creative exploration of the power and benefits of mindful awareness, self-care, and self-compassion. We will investigate why self-care must be a priority when caring for others. How can self-care be modeled to create curious and caring classroom communities? In what ways can the arts support the integration of care into our curriculums? Together we will share tools and resources for enhancing our wellbeing.

This day-long virtual conference will provide an opportunity for regeneration and inspiration, as well as a gentle reminder that self-compassion in these trying times is the single most important tool for resilience. Teachers not only educate, but create community, model behavior, and inspire curiosity in students. This year’s conference will explore creative awareness building while providing tools for self-care that will enhance the professional role educators play, reminding us that personal wellbeing is our greatest resource.


Thanks to the generosity of our partner SVCreates, lifetime trustee Sally Lucas, and an anonymous gift, we are able to offer free admission to this event.

Conference Schedule

  • 9:00-9:55am: Introduction and Keynote Speaker Amy Zoe Schonhoff
    • Creating Refuge for Ourselves and Our Community

      Over the past year, we have met significant events that illuminate issues impacting our individual and collective health and well-being. The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted ongoing issues of social inequity and injustice, and the vulnerabilities that exist within many of our nation’s institutional systems. The unprecedented pace of this clearer seeing is indicative of the “too much, too fast, too soon” of trauma.

      Fortifying and prioritizing our own health and wellbeing under these extraordinary circumstances is critical. Mindful awareness can play a central role in guarding our personal care and identifying inner resources that foster resilience. It provides a pathway to be with things as they are and creates space to work with what is true for us as we work to adapt to an ever-changing external landscape.

      Drawing on her own experiences as a mindfulness practitioner and teacher, trauma survivor, and parent, Amy will discuss the power and impact that mindful and compassionate self-inquiry can have when partnered with creative expression. She’ll discuss how speaking to what is alive within us through the integration of the arts can provide space for authenticity, deeper understanding, connection, healing, transformation, and—ultimately—greater intimacy with life.

  • 10:00-10:55am: Workshop #1
    • Accordion Book Project – Arzu Mistry & Todd Elkin

      Unfolding Practice is a process of using the simple accordion book as a site for creative inquiry and reflection that informs both art and education practice. In this workshop, we will engage in an immersive studio that weaves making, reflection, and dialogue on wellness into teaching and learning. This practice is useful in the shelter-in-place era as a mindfulness process tool.

      The act of making these books, and the ways of structured and unstructured thinking that drive and are driven by their making, will contribute to a dialogue between us on “thinking by making” and the relationship between the “hand and the mind.” The methods of the workshop bridge education and contemporary art practice and are based on an “art as research” approach.

      The core belief of the accordion books for reflective practice is supporting young people and educators to become proactive agents of their own practice and learning.

  • 11:00-11:55am: Workshop #2
    • An Integrative Approach to Artistic Process – Gina Muriera

      In this workshop, we will first review four defined types of self-care acts: physical, emotional, social, and spiritual. Then, we will consider how active practices of self-care can also demonstrate an Artistic Process as defined by the National and California Visual and Performing Arts Standards: CReating, PeRforming/PRoducing/PResenting, REsponding, and CoNnecting. Finally, we will discuss how teaching with shared ideas between K-8 arts and non-arts subjects cultivates a holistic production of one's own academic learning.

  • 12:00-12:55pm: Lunch Break
  • 1:00-1:55pm: Workshop #3
    • Taiko, Energy, and Connection: How Can Drumming without Drums Connect Us? – San Jose Taiko

      Taiko is the Japanese word for “drum.” At San Jose Taiko, we believe the art form of taiko is about connection—how we move energy between player and drum, and also the interchange of energy between people, space, and time. COVID has presented us with an interesting question: When we take away the drum and the ability to hear each other in the practice of taiko, what remains? How do we continue to find this connection? In this active hands-on workshop, participants will learn about SJT’s guiding philosophy called “The Four Principles,” and how these principles of Musical Technique, Kata (Form), Attitude, and Ki (Energy) continue to guide us in our lifelong learning and care for the self and community. The workshop will be led by Franco Imperial, Artistic Director, and Yurika Chiba, Artistic Staff. (You won’t need a drum, but if you would like to make paper bachi (drumsticks), you can watch a short instructional video here.)

  • 2:00-3:00pm: Closing Speaker and Q&A Discussion
    • Raymond Ortiz

      Raymond Ortiz is a certified Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Mental Health Therapist. Raymond received his M.A. degree in Counseling Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies with a specialization in Expressive Arts Therapy in 2012. Since 2012, Raymond has been working in the Mental Health field with a variety of populations ranging from school age children and families, college students, and adult populations (18-59 years old). His diverse clinical experiences have enabled him to serve and support multiple ethnic communities in the Bay Area. Raymond has worked with folks diagnosed with PTSD, Major Depression, anxiety, bipolar, autism, and schizophrenia. Raymond’s therapeutic approaches are based in Humanistic, Person Centered, Jungian, trauma-informed, DBT, and mindfulness-based therapies. His specialization in Expressive Arts Therapy supports these other approaches by allowing him to utilize arts interventions when working with clients. Aside from his clinical work, Raymond is a mixed media artist who uses the alias Rayos Magos. He considers his arts practice integral to his life and enjoys sharing his creations online, in galleries, as well as in the community through public murals and installations. Raymond identifies as a bilingual, Spanish-speaking, Chicano, male.

Presenter Bios

(Click to expand)

Amy Zoe Schonhoff

Amy Zoe Schonhoff, founder of Mindfulness in the Heartland, is a qualified teacher of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, a certified practitioner of Advanced Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness, and a trained Mindfulness Educator for grades K-12. Amy’s mindfulness practice spans over twenty-five years of personal exploration. Through her own life's journey, she has found the practices and principles of mindfulness to be the most instructive and transformative approach to embracing this experience of “being human.” / @mindfulheartland

Arzu Mistry

Arzu Mistry is an educator and artist and maintains a high level of dedication and enthusiasm for art and design as mediums for pedagogy, advocacy, transformation, and intervention for the building of sustainable inclusive communities. Arzu facilitates the Art in Transit and placeARTS public art projects in the city of Bangalore and internationally with the hope that art can facilitate dialogue between people and the urban spaces they inhabit. Arzu co-facilitates the Accordion Book Project and is the co-creator of the artist book Unfolding Practice: Reflections on Learning and Teaching. Her art and education practice connects teachers, youth, and families with place using memory, story, play, and art/design practices through interdisciplinary education and public community art and design facilitation, livelihoods training, teacher professional development, and educational research and practice. Arzu currently teaches at the Srishti Manipal Institute for Art Design and Technology in Bangalore and has taught with Project Zero at various teacher institutes at the Harvard Graduate School of Education since 2006. She received her BFA from the California College of the Arts (2001) and Ed.M at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (2008).

Todd Elkin

Todd Elkin is a visual artist, arts educator, writer, researcher, activist, and dad. He earned a BFA in interdisciplinary studies from the San Francisco Art Institute, a teaching credential at Cal State East Bay, and an Ed.M from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in the Arts in Education Program. In addition to his work as a full-time visual art teacher and Fine Arts department chair at Washington High School in Fremont, California, Elkin is a mentor teacher in the Art21 Educators Program and was a senior faculty member and instructor in the Alameda County Office of Education’s Integrated Learning Specialist Program. As an educator, Elkin is motivated by issues of social justice and equity in matters of race, class, and gender and is committed to creating spaces for students to engage in relevant lines of art-centered inquiry about these and other important themes. Elkin is Co-Facilitator of The Accordion Book Project with Arzu Mistry, with whom he authored Unfolding Practice: Reflections on Learning and Teaching in 2016, published by the Women’s Studio Workshop.

Gina Muriera

Gina Padilla Muriera is a bicultural, East Bay Chicana, two-time SJSU Spartan alumnus, earning her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Arts, and her Master of Arts in Counseling and Guidance, specializing in School Counseling with a K-12 PPS Credential. She is a passionate SJSU lecturer of Integrated Arts co-equal instruction since she personally struggled in her own K-12 education, with no support in connecting her multiple intelligences as a competitive swimmer, a percussionist, an actor, and a professional dancer to the non-arts subjects taught in school. Gina’s higher education career path was paved by over 15 years of serving low-income, first-generation middle and high school students in Title I schools via development and writing curriculum for after-school, STEAM programming. She currently serves on SCCOE's Artspiration Leadership Council of Community Practice and recently served as a faculty panelist for the Marion Cilker Arts Conference at San Jose State University. Gina shares resources that educators seek, which engage every child’s learning style for a deeper understanding of core subjects by intentionally integrating the arts into their goals, assessments, and instruction.

San Jose Taiko

San Jose Taiko is renowned for its excellence in taiko drumming repertoire and performance, incomparable longevity as a performing arts organization, and progressive leadership in community arts education. Since 1973, San Jose Taiko has shared the power, explosiveness, and versatility of the Japanese taiko drum with millions of people in live and virtual performances around the world, becoming a cultural lighthouse for this amazing art form. The company also distinguishes itself as a pioneering model for community arts education with outreach programs designed to teach the taiko art form and make it accessible to all walks of life.