For Shane Schmeichel, the arts reach across all boundaries. A native of North Dakota who made his career in educational programming in Minnesota, Schmeichel looks forward to using his interdisciplinary experience in his new role as the director of Coronado School of the Arts (CoSA). In addition to his position with CoSA, Schmeichel will also serve as an Assistant Principal for Coronado High School.
Schmeichel recently relocated to Southern California after cultivating his career in the Twin Cities. His expertise lies in fostering academic programs that connect the arts to all facets of learning. He has built arts programs from the ground up, first focusing on music courses for musicians and non-musicians alike and moving forward to creating specialty programs for district magnet schools. Schmeichel calls his work “removing the silos,” wherein the categories that usually keep K-12 subjects separate instead coalesce and work together. “I try to capture a multi-faceted approach to learning,” Schmeichel explains. “By really highlighting to students how connections are made between different subject areas and different art forms, we can teach them how to recognize what works for their learning style and their interests.”
Schmeichel put this strategy to work in the Rosemount – Apple Valley – Eagan Public Schools in Minnesota, where he created specialty programs for three different schools. Each school had a different focus – arts, international studies, and STEM (Science Technology English Math) – and Schmeichel’s job was to create programs that integrated the arts with the standard subjects the students were learning. “By removing the silos that confined different subjects, we could make the content more meaningful,” Schmeichel says. In other words, Schmeichel found that his students learned better by seeing how everything is connected.
For each of Schmeichel’s programs with the Rosemount – Apple Valley – Eagan schools, the curriculum was based around a theme, which carried over to every class and subject. Schmeichel views the theme as a tool that allows teachers the freedom and flexibility to make learning more meaningful and more applicable to real life. At CoSA, that theme will be the arts, and Schmeichel will encourage students to use the vigorous training they receive in their specialty as they approach other subjects. “I want to appreciate the fact that the students have the opportunity to study an art form so intensely, but I also want to emphasize that the skills they’re learning are being taught in a way that’s transferable to all other components of life,” Schmeichel says. “I think because of my experience with many different programs, I can help the school, CoSA, and the students make those connections.”
A violinist, Schmeichel credits his experience as a musician for his view of using the arts for learning. “Being a musician shows you how to do something rigorously, and that intense kind of commitment really sheds light on how you learn,” he explains. “So many artists study their art form so intensively that it ends up affecting everything else they do.”
While he emphasizes the importance of the arts reaching across borders, Schmeichel still makes time for dedication to his own art form. He has always remained involved with music, whether it’s directing a youth orchestra or performing with an ensemble. He recently ended an eight-year stint with a Minneapolis-St. Paul chamber orchestra called Exultate, and he says he looks forward to finding performance opportunities in San Diego.
In addition to exploring the classical music scene in San Diego, Schmeichel is eager to settle into his position at CoSA, which he affirms is a great fit for him. “The mission of Coronado School of the Arts is who I am as a person,” he says. With that mission in mind – to nurture creativity and academic excellence in an environment focused on individual growth, opportunity, and diversity – Schmeichel will encourage Coronado’s students to see the multiple connections between the arts and life.
--Written by Jill Coste
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