Tara Trinity Villanueva
Arts Integration & Cultural Events Coordinator
Carlos Rosario Public Charter School
Role as a D.C. Art Educator
Tara Villanueva is the Arts Integration and Cultural Events Coordinator at Carlos Rosario Public Charter School, the first adult charter school in the nation! Tara boldly embraces her continuously evolving position as a series of artistic challenges. As a member of the central office team managing two educational campuses, Tara works hard to integrate the arts—visual, musical, or performance—into the curriculum. To this end, she develops authentic and memorable activities that inspire the PD specialists, teachers, curriculum coordinators, and instructional coaches to be bold in their own teaching practices. Tara is an outspoken advocate for arts-based learning, ensuring rich arts experiences for her adult, English-language learners, who represent over 75 countries and 35 languages.
Tara is proud to have spearheaded Carlos Rosario’s initiative to incorporate the arts in learning for adult English-language students—many of whom are experiencing an arts education—and its rewards—for the very first time. For many of Tara’s students, their focus is finding a secure job to contribute to their family’s financial well-being, so painting or attending a live theater performance are things they may not have been able to prioritize. As someone who learns best through the arts, Tara realized that her students could also benefit from an arts-integrated curriculum that supports and encourages critical reasoning and other higher order thinking skills. However, convincing her school community that the arts, regardless of a student’s skill level, had a place in their lives, was not always easy.
The demand to learn English, pass citizenship tests, and earn their GEDs took precedence over arts integration learning methodology. That is, until Tara, who has a spitfire, won’t-take-no-for-an-answer attitude, became the voice for integrating the arts into all aspects of students’ education. From singing the National Anthem at their graduation ceremony to painting murals of their own unforgettable migration stories a la Jacob Lawrence, Tara’s passion and powers of persuasion are impacting the lives of students and faculty alike. The arts have found a secure home in the halls of Carlos Rosario and are getting both local and national attention!
Choosing Her Path
What makes Tara such a strong and empathetic advocate for her students is her ability to relate her own story to her students’ experiences. The daughter of immigrants, Tara remembers her own parents working hard to establish careers that would provide security for her family. Her mother, a career teacher of 38 years, embraced a love of the arts and incorporated it into all aspects of Tara’s childhood. From creating handmade coloring sheets for her to decorate during summer break to adorning the walls of her classroom with rainbow colored collages, creativity and art permeated Tara’s upbringing. Realizing how fortunate she was, Tara is committed to sharing the gift that her mother gave her, with her students. Tara attributes her innovative thinking, tireless energy and professional success to a life that is full of art. Her mission is to help her students and community to develop the same arts-fueled enthusiasm and motivation, as they begin their own journeys here in the United States.
When asked to compare her personality to an art supply, Tara chose the artist’s palette as the “vessel others use to create, and a tray full of bright colors with many options and potentials.” Tara’s passion for learning and personal growth reminds her of the way that paint can always be mixed to create something new or washed away to start afresh.
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