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Center for Arts-Inspired Learning shapes students around Northeast Ohio

Igniting student learning, creativity, and success through the arts.

CLEVELAND — In my high school years, I, along with thousands of other students was involved with an amazing organization called the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning or CAL's. For the past 27 years, Marsha Dobrzynski has been their President & CEO.

"The core of [our] work...is in partnership with professional teaching artists, music, dance theater, spoken word, visual arts, literary arts, who go out into the schools and integrate their art form into the core curriculum," Dobrzynski said. "And in 2013, we did a strategic planning process. And what we discovered in that process was there were many neighborhoods in the city of Cleveland that didn't have a community-based arts organization."

So CAL's goal became focused on providing arts programming in the neighborhoods of Glenville, Hough and parts of East Cleveland. But these students aren't only getting an education in the arts. Dobrzynski says academic support is also a focus.

"We have an hour of art, and an hour of homework help. [We also have] a teen apprenticeship program that works on college and career readiness skills. The other major program that we just began is something called "Play it Forward Cleveland." We had an instrument drive where we collected close to 400 instruments that were donated to us. And then we hired teaching artists, musicians who would provide twice a week music lessons as a free instructor."

And while the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning is a prepped for a long and exciting future, Marsha has some exciting moves of her own.

"After 27 years of having the privilege of leading CAL, I am retiring on June 30th," she said. "It has been, a very significant part of my life. Getting up every day and coming to work has always been a joy [despite] some tough battles."

As for what's kept her passionate about her work? Dobrzynski says, it's been all about the students CAL serves.

"This is a quote that has kept me passionate and engaged for all these years -'Children may be only 20% of our population, but they are 100% of our future'," she said. "And then seeing it on those faces when I go to a program, it's like magic."

*Editor's Note: The video in the player above is from a previous report. 

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