By Karishma Sood

Bruce Black, an art teacher, head of the fine arts department and head of student leadership at North Phoenix Preparatory Academy, received a $2,500 grant from the Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers Program. The grant was used to integrate a better learning environment in fine arts for about 300 students learning both remotely and in-person due to COVID-19 regulations.

“The grant had an amazing impact this year because we’ve been able to provide materials for our students to help us get over the hump of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Black says. “Fiesta Bowl Charities and Desert Financial have helped us interact with our students in a more successful way.”

Now in its fifth year, the Fiesta Bowl Wishes for Teachers program provides grants statewide for educators to use for classroom supplies, new lesson plans and technology. Over the life of the program, more than $3.7 million has been donated to nearly 850 teachers.

At North Phoenix Preparatory, COVID-19 created new challenges for the fine arts department.

“When we were all online, the teachers could design an online curriculum,” Black says. “Now, we are simultaneously teaching on a computer and have a classroom full of students. I’m trying to balance providing an online experience and a classroom experience.”

Black wanted to enrich his art class students’ experience, and provide for the other classrooms, like drama and music classes. Black used his grant to purchase items like a class set of keyboards, take-home art kits for remote learners, and recording equipment for the drama classes.

“The grant was mainly because of COVID protocol, so we could boost the number of supplies to get to kids who couldn’t afford it,” Black says.

As a liberal arts school, Black chose to use the grant to improve multiple arts programs since all students are required to take these arts classes throughout their high school careers. “The fine arts are an integral component of our curriculum. When we buy art supplies or music supplies or drama supplies, it impacts almost our entire school,” Black says.