By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Yo-Yo Ma, the cello virtuoso, recently played at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and also spent time with Damian Woetzel, formerly of the New York City ballet, at Savoy Elementary, one of the city’s long-struggling and poorest schools.

Ma and Woetzel rehearsed with students as part of an on-going effort to use the arts to transform the school, where less than one-fifth of the students are proficient in math and reading. As one of eight turnaraound arts schools nationally, dance, music, theater and visual arts are not used as tacked-on ‘extras’ but are motivators.

Through a federal School Improvement Grant, part-time teachers were hired to increase the arts and the Savoy Players, a drama group, meets after school and on weekends. ‘White House level” support and community partners make all this happen.

Clearly, it’s the commitment of principal, Patrick Pope, to use the excitement and discipline of the arts to improve achievement.

Read more in the The Washington Post, about a school that shows what art can teach.