Skyline students perform at Juneteenth Celebration 2019
  • The Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Department works to ensure that all students experience schools that nurture their sense of joy and curiosity, honor their identities, and provide an outlet for creative expression.


    OUSD’s VAPA Department:

    • Supervises a certificated staff of 26 elementary music and dance teachers serving all OUSD public elementary schools.
    • Manages the Arts Incentive Grant (AIG) to support community arts partnerships that align with the 21-24 Strategic Plan Initiative of Creating Joyful Schools.
    • Provides district-wide professional learning opportunities focused on creative practice and arts integration. 
    • Convenes teacher networks of visual arts, music, dance and drama teachers. 
    • Co-facilitates monthly meetings with community arts partners. 
    • Supports summer arts and music learning efforts for students. 
    • Coordinates yearly music festivals and partners on events that showcase young artists and performers.


  • oak tech is hiring a music teacher8/24/22
    Oakland Tech HS is hiring its next 🎵MUSIC TEACHER🎵
    Join the ensemble of incredible music teachers in our district! 

    Click here for the job posting

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  • Announcing AIG 2025 Awarded Schools4/11/22
    Arts Incentive Grant Funding Announcment
    OUSD awards Arts Incentive Grant (AIG) 2025 funding to 26 public schools and their community partners. Learn more about these incredible arts programs!

    Comments (-1)

  • AME Flyer3/7/21
    Alameda County Office of Education's Arts, Media & Entertainment (AME) Week March 7-11, 2022
    Hear from professionals and understand more about the impact AME has on our everyday lives. Learn more and register for a session!

    Comments (-1)
  • Arts Incentive Grant 2025 square logo11/17/21
    Applications Open for AIG 2025
    The ARTS INCENTIVE GRANT (AIG) 2025 funding program supports the creative and cultural lives of Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) students, staff, and families. Learn More

    Comments (-1)
  • Zack Pitt-Smith

    OUSD Educator is Semifinalist for Grammy Award
    Zack Pitt-Smith, who teaches at Edna Brewer Middle School, is one of 25 semifinalists for the Music Educator Award, which is part of the Grammy Awards, given out by the Recording Academy and the Grammy Museum. Learn More

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  • Teachers from Westlake collaborate on arts learning

    Westlake Middle School Joins Statewide Arts-Fueled School Transformation Effort
    Westlake Middle School is thrilled to be joining Turnaround Arts: California’s statewide network of 26 schools leveraging the arts to support whole-school transformation. Learn more

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  • 6 OUSD Music Teachers receive Light Award09/04/21 
    Six OUSD Music Teachers Honored with 2021 California Educator LIGHT Awards and Grant
    Since 2014, “the LIGHT Awards have recognized creative and passionate teachers seeking to pursue high quality professional learning opportunities. Learn more

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  • Donate to support OUSD arts

    Help ensure equitable access to the arts by supporting us through the Oakland Public Education fund!


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Degrees and Certifications:

Masters in Educational Leadership, Cal State East Bay; credentials in Music Education, Science and Administrative Services, B.A. in Music Education, San Francisco State.

Phil Rydeen

Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Director

Phil Rydeen has been a music educator and administrator for three decades, supporting the creative lives of Oakland Unified School District students. As the Director of Visual and Performing Arts, he has been responsible for rebuilding visual and performing arts programs and moving the OUSD towards the goal of a quality arts education for every student. Mr. Rydeen provides instructional supervision for the 24 Itinerant music specialists, professional development support for arts teachers, and plans and implements student events including the OUSD Jazz Festival, OUSD Orchestra Festival, Elementary Music Festival, and the Summer School Jazz Camp. Additionally he oversees the Arts Incentive Grant, a three-year funding program to catalyze innovative arts programs in Oakland schools in partnership with community organizations. With a focus on quality instruction in the arts programs Mr. Rydeen has assembled a leadership team to expand arts equity and teacher leadership throughout the district. Past initiatives that Mr. Rydeen has supported include: The Arts Learning Anchor Schools; the Music Integration Literacy Enhancement, a US DOE grant-funded project; Orff Levels training for all music teachers; the Dance Infrastructure project, and numerous others.



Degrees and Certifications:

B.A. Music UC Berkeley; teaching credential Holy Names U. Orff Levels certification.

Sarah Willner

Music Teacher on Special Assignment and VAPA Support

Sarah specializes in culturally relevant pedagogy and arts integration with students and teachers of OUSD.  Sarah was  faculty of the Integrated Learning Specialists Program of Alameda County, and is a past President of N. CA Orff Association, presenting at local and National Conferences. Sarah has studied and performed the music of Bali since 1988, with Bay area’s Gamelan Sekar Jaya, and with many revered teachers in Bali, specializing in traditional and modern music for shadow theater (gender wayang). She also performs with the contemporary shadow theater troupe, ShadowLight Productions in large-scale original works that have toured to major U.S. venues. Currently she is a member of a project of  OUSD teachers, Indigenous Voices in the Music Classroom. 



Degrees and Certifications:

M.Ed., Urban Education, Curriculum and Instruction, Holy Names University; BFA, Industrial Design, University of Washington

Aimee Espiritu

Consultant, Arts Incentive Grant Program Officer and VAPA Support

Aimee Espiritu, M. Ed (she/they) launched Espiritu Consulting in October 2017 based on her 10 years of experience providing Management in the Arts as well as Strategic Planning and Partnerships for non-profit organizations and school districts. Prior to this, Aimee was an Arts Educator and Administrator for 14 years with a primary focus of engaging young people in classrooms, museums and arts programs through creative youth development, curriculum design, exhibit development, and peer-to-peer training.



Degrees and Certifications:

PhD from UCLA's World Arts and Culture Department, M.Ed from Harvard's Graduate School of Education, M.A in Teaching from USF's Center for Teaching Excellence and Social Justice

Susie Lundy

Consultant, Arts Incentive Grant Program Officer and VAPA Support

Dr. Susie Lundy is the President of Tiratana Consulting. She is passionate about supporting arts organizations committed to social justice and systems change. Her work includes helping organizations anchor their work in wisdom, practice, and community. Dr. Lundy is a strategist, visionary, and writer with a passion for storytelling, community-based arts, social justice, mural making, dance, theater, and international arts projects.She is an experienced arts nonprofit leader and thought partner with a demonstrated history of working in education and the creative arts. Her strong social justice youth development practice is informed by decades of working in education, curriculum development, evaluation, and grant-writing. Susie holds a PhD from UCLA's World Arts and Culture Department, a M.Ed from Harvard's Graduate School of Education, and a M.A in Teaching from USF's Center for Teaching Excellence and Social Justice. 



Degrees and Certifications:

Ed.M. Art in Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education; BA Education for Environmental Responsibility & Social Justice (self-designed), Fairhaven College, Western Washington University

Indi McCasey

Consultant, Arts Incentive Grant Program Manager and VAPA Support

Indi McCasey (they/them) is a creative facilitator and community catalyst who believes that the arts can transform education. They have spent the past 15 years working at the intersection of arts, education, and community health with non-profit organizations and school districts in Boston, Santa Fe, Seattle, and throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. As a Creative Education Consultant, Indi facilitates professional learning communities of local, national, and international educators, thought leaders, and organizations. They are a former faculty member of Alameda County Office of Education's Integrated Learning Specialist Program and Harvard’s Project Zero Classroom and currently serve as the Executive Director of the Arts Education Alliance of the Bay Area.