Dr. Eileen Santiago being honored here by the Port Chester Arts Council, her school district, the state and national government at National Arts in the School Day in Port Chester, New York, April 13, 2011.
Although she tells people she is “a non-artist who needs to be surrounded by the arts,” Dr. Santiago, the dynamic principal of Edison School in Port Chester, New York for the past 15 years, was unanimously chosen as this year’s Arts Advocate Award recipient.
In a speech honoring Dr. Santiago, I cited examples of the educational arts legacy she has already bestowed on our community.
Contrary to her self-analysis as a non-artist, Dr. Santiago thinks like an artist:
She looks at things more closely than most people; she goes beyond ordinary ways of thinking and doing; she makes new connections between new and old ideas; she concentrates on something challenging for a long period of time and she takes risks exposing herself to possible failure. Here’s how:
Her first year as principal Dr. Santiago established an after-school program in
collaboration with the Arts Council while providing on-going enrichment activities for 4th and 5th graders that exposed them to New York City’s museums, restaurants and Broadway. Then she recruited her staff of artist-teachers to direct an annual musical,”Catch a Rising Star” and a student/faculty Fashion Show.
Finally, Dr. Santiago’s signature event, Edison’s annual piece de resistance, The Gallery Walk. This now tradition transforms the school into a treasure trove of student artwork, language and social studies projects bound by a powerful social theme.
Those of us who understand the arts, also know how it builds community.
Eileen Santiago didn’t wait for that to happen spontaneously, she made Edison a “community school”: bringing educational, health and social professionals into Edison for the first time and forming partnerships with local colleges and corporations. It’s logical, Dr. Santiago, if you think like an artist, if you act like an artist… tu eres un artista.
A standing ovation for educational artist, Dr. Eileen Santiago.