CVESD Principal Receives Grant to Champion Creativity in Schools

Debra McLaren is one of 20 elementary and middle school principals from across the nation who has been selected by Crayola and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) to receive a “Champion Creatively Alive Children” school grant. McLaren is principal of Wolf Canyon Elementary in the Chula Vista Elementary School District. Crayola and NAESP together selected 20 schools to receive the grants, which will fund innovative programs aimed at fostering children’s critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication skills.

The Champion Creatively Alive Children grants are intended to help schools build creative capacity, nurture children’s creativity and inspire other schools to do the same. Wolf Canyon received a $2,500 monetary grant and $1,000 worth of Crayola products. McLaren will share outcomes from the school’s program via NAESP’s website and a special Principal Magazine Supplement to help other principals develop promising practices related to arts education.

“We are excited to be a recipient of the Crayola Arts Grant because we know the arts are integral to all we do as we develop the skills our students are going to be expected to have to be successful in the 21st century,” McLaren said. “This grant supports our ‘Design Time,’ which is special time set aside in our classrooms to allow students to create, design, and collaborate using visual arts media.  It is a chance for our students to explore the makeup of the things in the world around them. All learning is an art!”

Wolf Canyon’s Project “Design Time!” will support the K-6th grade teachers with resources that help them “build thinkers” who merge art and engineering creative problem-solving processes. This school has received California Department of Education’s Exemplary Arts Education award. Now, the school plans on taking its students’ on the “FAST track: Fine Arts, Science, and Technology.”

“Crayola believes that for students to reach their full potential and grow into self-motivated learners, their creativity and critical thinking skills must be nurtured. We believe children develop these 21st century skills when educators ignite their imaginations through art infused education,” said Smith Holland, Crayola president and chief executive officer.

The Champion Creatively Alive Children grant program asks principals to explore a “what if…” learning opportunity. For example, what if arts-infused learning thrived every day in schools? What if schools relied more on project-based authentic assessment rather than standardized tests? What if parents and schools found ways to document and articulate the value of creative experiences? The entries were judged on innovation, collaboration, and sustainability.

“Principals understand the value of using arts-infused education to ignite deep learning for all students,” said NAESP Executive Director Gail Connelly. “We’re proud to work with Crayola and the Champion Creatively Alive Children grant program to provide schools with this unique opportunity for resources to enhance students’ creativity and success, providing them the type of complete and well-rounded education that they deserve.”

To view the complete list of the 20 Champion Creatively Alive Children grant recipients, visit

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