Emily Pineda

Performing Arts teacher

Featured image

Emily Pineda, third from the right, leads a talking circle with her 5th graders
Photo: Mauricio Pineda


School: Reilly Elementary

Classes: Performing Arts

MCA programs: Teacher Institute

Extracurriculars: Act Out drama club, Peer Council circle keeper, flash mob director, ballet teacher

Why the MCA?

The MCA is different than so many other museums because it challenges our sense of what art is. We look at objects and art pieces through the lens of ideas, concepts, and responses, rather than just as mediums. The MCA is approachable and welcoming—it's a place that invites dialogue and discourse, an opportunity to challenge ideas and form your own unique opinions. It is more than an institution—it is a space for inquiry, reflection, and thinking about concepts and contexts in a broad perspective.

What has participating in MCA Teacher Programs meant to you?

Participating in the MCA Summer Institute as well as several guided tours has allowed me not only to think differently about art, but to help my students broaden their notions about art and how to communicate messages about the world around them through artistic practice. These opportunities have allowed my students to become more critical as thinkers, because they are challenged not only to create art with a purpose and idea behind it, but also to become more aware and appreciative of others' artistic practice. It has opened our perspectives as artists and lifelong learners to continually think about the ideas behind a work, rather than judging something by its initial appearance.


Emily Pineda has been an educator with CPS for over 10 years, teaching 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th grades. For the last three years she has also been teaching what she is most passionate about: theater and dance.

She currently works at Reilly School in Avondale and teaches students in kindergarten through eighth grade, striving to teach students not only skills for dance and theater, but the importance of working together in ensemble “families.” Additionally, Emily is currently codirecting a high school dance ensemble with All-City Performing Arts at Curie High School on Saturdays. When the school day ends, Emily can be found choreographing a flash mob group to perform in the community, codirecting the school’s drama club Act Out, teaching classical ballet to fourth graders, as well as working with Peer Council in training students to be peace circle keepers. Emily is a trained circle keeper through Project NIA—an organization working to find alternatives to youth incarceration—where she has also written pamphlets and participated as a panelist on Restorative Practices and interrupting the school to prison pipeline.

Finally, Emily is grateful to be teaching at the same school as her partner in crime, Mauricio, the school’s Visual Arts teacher. When they’re not planning curriculum or sharing ideas about the arts, they can be found playing and adventuring with their 14-month-old daughter, Zola.