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News: League News

New Schools (Visions Performing Arts College Prep): Parent Q & A

Thursday, December 20, 2018  
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Visions Performing Arts College Prep (VPAC) will open in Aurora Public Schools fall 2020, pending approval of their charter application in Spring 2019. Originally functioning as a 14-year after-school and elective program, the VPA Company is seeking to expand to a full school at the demand of the program’s community, families, and students.


VPAC has pitted and will transform into a full-fledged 6th-12th grade school dedicated to preserving African and Latino American performing arts. The group currently hosts quarterly youth performance showcases where students can come display their talent for a cash prize of $500! They also feature a dance team, theater group, and vocal group. If you are interested in getting involved or securing your spot in the upcoming showcases, please visit them here


One mother-daughter duo is part of the school design team helping expand the VPA Company into Visions Performing Arts College Prep; Auset Ali and Jaye Lucas. Founder and Executive Director, Healer Auset Ali has been performing for 25 years, educating for 16 years, and has been a holistic healer for 10 years. Auset accepted the demand of opening a school after successfully operating VPAC and seeks to combine arts education with indigenous healing modalities. An Aurora Mother of three, Auset sits on many boards and commissions and is a community leader committed to DEI efforts and outcomes.


Jaye Lucas is the Chairman of the Board and the strongest and most stern supporter of Auset, because she is her mother. Grandmother of Josiah, she is delighted to see VPAC blossom. Jaye is a popular vocalist across the country and has accomplished many artistic milestones. An expert in administration, Jaye brings the right mix of arts, administration, compliance and parenting to serve the VPAC Board effectively. When asked how long she has been involved in the project, Jaye’s favorite response is, “I’ve been here since the inception and the CONCEPTION!” We solicited answers from this mother-daughter pair on their experience with parent choice. Please see below for the resulting Q & A.

Q: What does school choice mean to you as a parent, and what does it mean to you as an educator (or founding board member)?

A. (Auset) As a parent, it allows me to make the best decision for my children's education. It allows my children to be involved and take ownership of the experience of learning that fits best for who they are. As an educator, I am excited Visions Performing Arts College Prep (VPAC) will be one of the options that families will consider. Cultural arts education is vital if we want to see things in the world change like healthy balanced representation and understanding of differences. We are adults building the school we needed as African and Latinx performers and educators. We are delighted that parents are counting down the day they can choice into VPAC.

A. (Jaye) As a parent and now grandparent, school choice gives our family the chance to see education work with the different types of children we have in our family. I love that there is variety and parents can shop around as much as they need to for students to graduate successfully. As the Founding Chair of the Board for VPAC, to see this develop is awesome! I am so proud that parents will investigate and learn about our great program.  VPAC is going to change the lives of student performers through high-quality African and Latinx performing arts. Parents wanted a school like ours as a choice, so as Auset says, they bullied her into creating the choice.


 Q. How has your knowledge of your children’s strengths and needs factored into the design of your school? What else did?

A. (Auset) My youngest, Josiah, is the why of VPAC. When parents began to ask me to consider opening a school, Josiah was still developing his acting skills. He was new in VPAC programming. The needs of other students were pretty demanding. Then, one night in a community meeting, Josiah spoke and HE identified all of his needs and why I needed to get firm in my decision to open. He isn't a struggling student; however, he was a disengaged student. He wasn't excited about school and planned not to attend college because he wanted to enter the industry right away. Josiah's strengths and needs are constantly one of our student voices that are shaping the design of our school. In addition, the voices of our families have shaped the design drastically. Families and students demanded the expansion of VPAC, so listening to every voice and taking heed that all families and students want is a vibrant place to learn. We have designed from their experiences as well. Education is service-based just as much as it is instructional-based. Across the board, feeling good AND learning well are equally valued as balanced priorities.


 A. (Jaye) Ditto to all of Auset’s responses. The only thing I would add was that we are purposely intentional about the cultural piece. We imagine a world in 20 years where things like the movie, Black Panther, will not be a phenomenon. We know our students will graduate and change the representation in arts, culture, and media. Josiah is the next Denzel and when he shares he went to VPAC after accepting a Tony Award, we all will rejoice! There is a social responsibility in the arts that students must be rooted in their own culture to ensure they are being a shining example. VPAC's model cultivates that and we see our students from 14 years ago making a major difference in the Denver Metro area now. That was done just with an afterschool program. When we have our school, the world will be impacted. 


 Q. Knowing the traditional definitions of what a quality school is, how would you redefine quality for schools of choice?


 A. (Auset) WHOLE CHILD! Assessments and test scores do not tell the whole story. Yes, the majority of students are on honor roll, but are they healthy emotionally? Do they feel safe and valued? Have they had a balanced meal or proper rest? We are raising the next generation of who will lead us. What are we instilling in them to make the world better? Inclusive and diverse academics that empower students in who they are is vital. Redefining means the adults must rethink. We must be open to change and growth at an appropriate pace and comprehension for everyone. And when I say adults I do not mean just the adults in the school. I mean families and community members. It takes a village to raise a child - and a family - and a community. 

A.   (Jaye) Redefining quality for me is all about the chance to see what we are doing and name the indicators for the outcomes we wish to see. Taking a hard honest look at what is working and what is not working and being unapologetic about abandoning what is harming our students. Are schools adaptable to fit the needs and trends of the students is a key question to ask. Redefine it as parents and demand the implementation of best practices. Parent voices being valued and brought to the table is also very important to me in the re-definition.

Q.  What are three essential characteristics and/or elements that you believe a high-quality, innovative school should possess?


 A. (Auset)

 1.) High-engaging rigor that stimulates the talents of students;

 2.) Cultural competency that includes the authentic identity of students; and

 3.) Student agency and ownership of their learning experience that cultivates real-world application.


A.   (Jaye)
1.) College readiness;
2.) Life skills; and
3.) Falling forward to learn and grow instead of failing to pass.

Q. As a parent and a community member, how would someone BEST get your attention if they were to engage your community in seeking to open a charter school? How would they BEST motivate you to join them in effecting educational change?

A. (Auset) Be someone from the community I belong to and ask for collaborative solutions to apply, if they truly wanted to establish a partnership.

A. (Jaye) Give me the 20-year vision of what your students will do in your dream world. That will tell a lot about whether you are invested in truly educating, and there is no room for ulterior motives that can leave a community devastated. WE ourselves are opening the school we want to see with VPAC!

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