Gail Draper

Gail Draper


Gail is an educator first and foremost. As the founding kindergarten teacher at a progressive independent school in Los Angeles, her 35 years of experience in education, administration, curriculum development, and arts integration is an incredible asset to the Bloom Arts Foundation.

Her experience as a volunteer in an elementary classroom while studying at Reed College confirmed her belief that conventional schooling is not always in the best interest of children. Fueled by educational thinkers such as John Holt, George Dennison, and Jonathan Kozol, the search for an alternative led her to Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena. Here she studied progressive education and met early pillars in the development of anti-bias curriculum. Gail then embarked on a pivotal year teaching in a tri-lingual (English, Spanish, and ASL) after-school program in Echo Park, that was specifically designed to support students attending local public schools, with equity and inclusion at the forefront.

A year and a half later, while at her desk in the finance department of PRO-Peace, the sponsoring organization for the Great Peace March (for Global Nuclear Disarmament,) she received the phone call that changed her life. A new school, informed by a progressive philosophy, needed a kindergarten teacher. That fall, the school opened with one kindergarten classroom of 11 families in a glorified rummage sale storage room at a church.

Not long after the school’s inception, it became clear that the school’s governance did not reflect the philosophy and practice in the classroom. Gail was on the committee that began an examination and re-imagining of the school’s structure — one that was inclusive, non-hierarchical, and had multiple points of entry; and viewed parents, teachers, and administrators as partners.

Over the years she has been entrusted with carrying the torch of those founding principles in multiple roles: as a writer & speaker, as co-curriculum coordinator, as a Board trustee and co-chair of the long-range planning committee, and as a member of admissions, multi-age, accreditation, and Head search committees. Gail now brings this mix of classroom & administrative experience, and enthusiasm for program development, to her leadership of The Bloom Arts Foundation.