Ombudsman Chicago Expands Art Education Program

Date: November 12, 2015

According to the National Endowment for the Arts, at-risk students are more likely to perform better in school, at jobs and in social environments when they have access to art in the classroom. Recognizing the benefits of art education, Ombudsman Chicago has recently expanded its arts program offerings and has expanded its staff to include additional certified art teachers.

A Chicago Public Schools Options School Program, Ombudsman Chicago offers out-of-school and off-track teens a second chance at achieving academic success while preparing them for continuing education and a career.

Artistic expression is a pillar of Ombudsman’s ongoing approach to violence prevention in its schools. During art classes offered throughout the day, students have the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of art, explore different design techniques and work in a variety of mediums.

“Because of its multidimensional nature, art can be a powerful tool for at-risk students,” said Rebecca Roppelt, art teacher at Ombudsman. “Art crosses cultures, ethnic groups, and socioeconomic classes and can easily be used to enrich a curriculum in a traditional left-brain subject like math, English or science, which can in turn bridge an opportunity for students who are more traditionally emotional, right brain thinkers.”

Ombudsman Chicago West art project

Ombudsman West student, Matthew Gonzales, pictured with his mother, at an open house event held on October 15, 2015 at Ombudsman’s West Side campus. Gonzales holds a Dia de los Muertos art project he has made in class and a poem he has written honoring his late grandmother.

Art serves as a calming mechanism for Ombudsman student Nathan Nieves, a West Side native who started creating graffiti as a way to cope with the absence of his father.

I grew up in the Belmont Cragin and Humboldt Park neighborhoods and my interest in art has been influenced a lot by the graffiti artists I knew growing up,” said Nieves. “Art has become a way for me to relax and cope with things; I love taking this class in school because you can express the feelings you are having – if you have a problem, you can just draw it out.”

Although Nathan plans on pursuing a career in law enforcement after graduation in June, he plans on always continuing to express himself through art.

Learn more about Ombudsman’s three convenient Chicago locations at For more information, contact Brinton Flowers, Flowers Communications Group at 312.228.8821 or

About Ombudsman

Ombudsman is part of the Education Division of ChanceLight™ Behavioral Health & Education, formerly known as Educational Services of America.

Ombudsman’s alternative education and dropout recovery programs help communities combat the staggering social and economic costs of high dropout rates. Since 1975, Ombudsman Educational Services has educated more than 155,000 at-risk students and students who have previously dropped out – and introduced them to all the opportunities a real high school diploma provides.

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