Madison Academy – The Perfect Recipe for Learning

PEF’s Summer Enrichment Program is a mainstay for my own children. The teachers create a magic mix of curiosity and exploration that engages them and their classmates every day. It’s a perfect connection for us to keep fun and learning going during the summer. ~ Helen Hill, PUSD Assistant Superintendent

Pasadena Educational Foundation’s “Madison Academy” was summer learning at its finest. By offering academics taught in engaging ways to imbue foundational concepts and art to empower expanding minds, students were served key ingredients for unlocking understanding. Madison Academy centered on shoring up scholastics in the morning and out-of-the-box arts in the afternoon.

And it began with a special request.

This past May, Madison Elementary’s Principal Noemi Orduna reached out to PEF. She felt it was extremely important to connect more of her students with expanded learning opportunities following the extended period of remote learning. The result? A full summer enrichment program at Madison was created for the first time. As a Title 1 school with more than 95% of students on free and reduced lunch, the goal at Madison was clear: prepare more children, many who had never attended classes on a school campus, for in-person instruction this coming fall through fun learning and artistic endeavors.

In years past, Pasadena Educational Foundation has hosted a couple of summer classes at Madison for incoming kindergarten and first grade students in need of English-language reinforcement. However, Principal Orduna wanted to quadruple our summer classes to reach more children and extend the day to enhance their learning. She felt many of her students required extra care before a return to in-person classes this fall… and we had only eight weeks to make it happen.

With support from the Pasadena Unified School District, Expanded Learning Opportunity funds, and our other partners, we had the means to fulfill this request. In fact, our entire program was free for all participants. Yet could we put together a full, customized program, one that usually takes months of planning and preparation, in such a short period of time?

Together with the hands-on efforts of Madison personnel, students in need of expanded support were contacted. Qualified summer staff was identified and hired to create a consistent, friendly educational environment; one that would seamlessly lead into fall classes. PEF facilitated arts integration by coordinating efforts with PUSD Arts, The Music Center, Armory Center for the Arts, and Side Street Projects.

The Music Center’s expert teaching artists taught classes focused on the joys of theater. For our youngest, “Adventures in Storyland” engaged kindergarteners in tell-along stories, sing-along songs, and theatre games. Incoming second graders were treated to “Puppet Palooza!” where students explored the wonderful world of puppetry by making their own muppets, marionettes, and shadow/toy theaters. And for Grades 3 – 5 , students learned “All the World’s A Stage!” which allowed them to have fun acting, storytelling and creating theater of their own.

Teaching artists from Armory Center for the Arts and Side Street Projects taught classes focused on visual arts. Classes covered different formal art elements, such as line, color, shape, form, texture and pattern. Students looked at contemporary artists and then gained skills to develop their own voices as artists. They explored drawing, painting and sculpture and were introduced to mixed media projects by top arts education professionals.

Given the increased need for socio-emotional learning, including the arts was natural and consistent with our Summer Enrichment Program’s focus learning through fun. Research shows that schoolchildren exposed to the arts are better able to master reading, writing and math than those focused only on academics. Pasadena Unified School District’s Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development, Helen Hill, concurs with our focus. “PEF’s Summer Enrichment Program is a mainstay for my own children. The teachers create a magic mix of curiosity and exploration that engages them and their classmates every day. It’s a perfect connection for us to keep fun and learning going during the summer.”

Thanks to the drive of Principal Orduna, Madison Elementary personnel, and PEF community partners The Music Center, Armory Center for the Arts, Side Street Projects, students were treated to inventive classes that spurred their imaginations and buoyed their confidence… the perfect recipe for higher learning.


Pasadena Educational Foundation, 351 South Hudson Ave. RM 153, Pasadena,, (626) 396-3625 or visit







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