Tuesday, June 19 , 2018, 5:46 am | Fair 53º


Partners in Education Volunteer Spotlight: Laura Inks

Sharing her passion for art education, longtime volunteer inspires at-risk students to work creativity into their futures

[Noozhawk’s note: One in a series on Santa Barbara Partners in Education volunteers. This article is sponsored by Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, a Partners in Education President’s Council member.]

As somebody who was an at-risk youth herself, Laura Inks knows how important it is for such students to get the positive attention they need and deserve.

Now an involved member of the Santa Barbara community and an avid Santa Barbara Partners in Education volunteer, Inks’ way of supporting young people today is through art education.

      |  Partners in Education President’s Council Series |  Complete Series Index  |

When volunteering, Inks says she is “there for whatever they needed me to be there for. Sometimes (the kids) just need somebody to notice them and listen to them and encourage them into a direction that is positive.”

“I just want to give them that chance to see that other world out there and get inspired,” she said.

Santa Barbara Partners in Education volunteer Laura Inks says that sometimes the best thing adult role models can do for kids is 'to notice them and listen to them and encourage them into a direction that is positive.'
Santa Barbara Partners in Education volunteer Laura Inks says that sometimes the best thing adult role models can do for kids is “to notice them and listen to them and encourage them into a direction that is positive.” (Inks family photo)

While employed at The Granada as arts education director, Inks was given the opportunity to recreate the youth media program that was already in place and she used it to help students at El Puente Community School in Santa Barbara. El Puente is an alternative high school for students who may have been expelled from other schools for low grades or behavior issues. In many cases, these students lack a support network that they need to succeed.

The media program gave these young people the opportunity to show their creative side through filmmaking. They were able to learn about the different careers paths within the film industry, as well, perhaps motivating them to do better in school.

“It was a program that I argued was really important, because it wasn’t broad and shallow, it was narrow and deep,” Inks said. “It really changed lives, and that’s the work I love to do.”

Although she no longer works at The Granada, Inks will never stop encouraging students to be passionate about art education. She continues to work with Partners in Education as a guest speaker in various junior high and high school classes, and she is always welcomed back with open arms.

“Laura was extremely helpful and made sure to interact with her audience ... she was a huge inspiration ... the kids really liked her!” said a Dos Pueblos High teacher, referring to Inks’ Career Day presentation.

“She was articulate, enthusiastic and engaging,” said another.

When asked if it is important for businesses and professionals to get involved as volunteers in schools, Inks exclaimed, “Oh, my gosh, yes! This is the next generation and they need our help. It’s more necessary than ever.”

Santa Barbara Bank & Trust is a member of the Partners in Education President’s Council, a group of local businesses, organizations and individuals who support Partners in Education with contributions of at least $2,500. Any company or organization has the opportunity to participate in Partners in Education, but the President’s Council is limited to no more than 30.

» Click here for more information on Santa Barbara Partners in Education.

» Click here for more information on how to become a President’s Council member or contact Michelle Magnusson, development and membership director, at 805.964.4710 x4417 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

» Click here for a related article from Partners in Education board president Lynda Nahra.

» Connect with Partners in Education on Facebook.

      |  Partners in Education President’s Council Series |  Complete Series Index  |

— Rebecca Finley is an AmeriCorps volunteer who has been working as a Santa Barbara Partners in Education volunteer coordinator. Both AmeriCorps and Partners in Education are programs of the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

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