Staff Q&A: Meet Measurement & Documentation Manager, Carrie Rosales!

Reasons why we love Chicago in October: Chicago Artists Month (which is in full swing – take a look at their calendar of events), crisp fall air (sweatshirt weather!), and a never-ending supply of pumpkin spice lattes. One of many reasons why we love our staff year-round: see the photo below. Carrie Rosales, ukulele enthusiast and Urban Gateways’ Measurement & Documentation Manager, is more than just a fabulous member of our staff she’s also a serious advocate for the arts. We sat down with Carrie to talk all things arts-ed as a continuation of our staff Q&A series; check out her full interview right here!

UG: Describe what you do as the Measurement & Documentation Manager at UG:

Carrie: I collect data on various aspects of program implementation and expected outcomes. I synthesize data, analyze it, report results to various parts of the organization to inform how we’re doing in achieving our desired goals, and discuss ways to make course changes to improve or reinforce these data points.

Has anything surprised you about this position that wasn’t included in the job description?

When I started in this position, everything was new – the organization had zero systems for collecting data or tracking outcomes. It was a complete culture shift. We went merely from plugging away at programs, trusting we were doing good things because kids were happy, to a place of tracking success, being held accountable, and incorporating a pretty rigorous system of tracking and reporting everything we do. I didn’t expect the culture shift part to take so long to grab hold. I thought I’d get started and after a year everyone would be bought in and systems would be humming. I’ve been in this position for four years now, and JUST this year I feel like everyone is really beginning to get the hang of it and put value in it and take ownership. It’s a good feeling to see it finally beginning to work, but buy-in is a long process.

Having studied theatre and music, what draws you most to these artistic mediums?

My grandma (the one I inherited the ukulele from, seen in the picture here) bought me a piano when I was seven. I remember “Bad” was one of the first songs I learned on the piano! Then, my grade school music teacher saw me gathering a bunch of kids on the playground to rehearse a grassroots production of “Annie” and encouraged me to try out for a community theatre production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” When I was cast, she drove me to all my rehearsals after school. The rest is pretty much history. I was involved in music and theatre my whole life after that. I am especially thankful for my teachers for nurturing my loves and talents, and working at UG is where I’m able to give back.

You worked in Spain as an ESL teacher, using theatre as a vehicle for language acquisition. In this same train of thought, do you believe integrating the arts into other curricula can be helpful for school children?

Oh, absolutely. The arts are probably the best vehicle one can use to drive home concepts that are complex, boring, or hard to contextualize for kids (and adults!). The arts are flexible enough to stretch over any subject, to give life and meaning. We see it all the time. Recently, after doing a visual art project in his history class, one kid said, “doing art helps me understand the ancient stuff.” I tend to agree with him. Doing scene studies of plays by Federico García Lorca while in Spain, I was finally able to understand and empathize with the people and culture of Andalucia. AND had a fun time while doing it.

What has been your favorite UG event thus far and why?

I love ARTini, but if I had to choose ONE event as my favorite, I’d have to go all the way back to 2008 when we had an Artist Appreciation night at one of our artist’s studios in Pilsen. We had a DJ who was playing all kinds of funk and soul and we had the most epic soul train going. Our artists let loose some pretty killer moves and we just had a really great time that night.

A lot of student surveys and residency feedback come through your department. Any (pleasantly) surprising statistics you’ve encountered?

Last year I did an analysis of all our student survey data and segmented out different age groups. I went into it thinking that we’d see different trends for different age groups. What we discovered is that ALL ages are being impacted to virtually the same degree on all measures. Various art forms show different levels of impact, but grade levels don’t. I thought that was interesting and powerful.

Any cultural or artistic Chicago events you’re looking forward to in the coming months?

You know, I’ve been so sidetracked by post-season baseball, that I haven’t even been watching the cultural/artistic calendar!

If given the opportunity, what is one thing you’d change about arts programming in Chicago public schools?

Well, in seeing all the big initiatives coming out of the CPS Office of Arts Education this year, I really just want to see how everything materializes. As a sector, we’ve been advocating for the kinds of changes that are now coming down the pike with the Arts Education Plan for some time. I am eager to look at the data next year and the following year and see if schools are benefitting from the extra funds they’re getting towards the arts and if schools are, in fact, getting better at fortifying their schools with arts programming and resources.

Two truths and a lie?

I have no sense of smell. I have one blue eye that I cover with a brown color contact. I vibrate when I sleep.

What are some of your favorite pastimes when you’re not at the office?

I really love to travel so I try to get out of the city whenever I can. I am currently planning a trip to do a five-day trek up to Machu Picchu for my 40th birthday in November! But besides that, I can be found hanging out with friends, watching baseball, and doing various arts projects. I just signed up for a class to learn to play the ukulele that I just inherited from my grandma. Anything and everything that is inspiring and life affirming, I’ll be doing it.