Monthly Archives: July 2017

Commendation Presented To Sussex Avenue RENEW School

This past year was the school’s 3rd year with Artists In Education program (AIE), and they’ll be joining us again next year as an AIE school. Each year, the school has worked with teaching artist Kit Sailer on three different visual arts projects. This current school year (2016-17), Kit worked closely with the Principal, Darleen Gearhart, and the art teacher, Nelson Alvarez, on a project that was created by the 6th and 8th grade students. The students created a mosaic mural using glass tiles. The inspiration for the design came from music. Principal Gearhart arranged for rap artist President Philson to join the residency for a brief period. During his time with the students, President Philson led the students through exercises where each student wrote their own rap lyrics. These lyrics were then used as the inspiration for the design that the students created with Kit. The entire project was overseen and supported by the school’s AIE Partner, Jackie Knox, from Young Audiences NJ & Eastern PA.

On May 25th, the school held their annual Family Art Day, where the mosaic was unveiled. It is located on the school’s playground, and the students, staff, and community are thrilled about the students’ work. Earlier this year, AIE reached out to Assemblywoman Blonnie R. Watson, who represents the community where Sussex Aveneue RENEW School is located (in Newark). We reached out to let her know about the grant the school received and their work with arts education. Assemblywoman Watson recently presented the school with a commendation (attached), and we couldn’t be more proud that the school is getting this much-deserved recognition. Sussex Avenue RENEW School truly understands and celebrates the importance of arts education, and we are proud to be working with them again next year. AIE is extremely grateful to the NJ State Council on the Arts and Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania for their support of the AIE program.

Michelle Baxter-Schaffer, Artists in Education Administrator
Artists in Education Program


New Voices: Trenton Central High School’s Dance Department Showcase

On Friday, June 9, 2017, Trenton Central High School’s Dance Department hosted their sixth dance showcase, New Voices. The Dance Department is part of the Visual and Performing Arts Academy, one of four career-aligned academies under the umbrella of Trenton Central High School. The evening featured performances by students in the Boys Dance Too Ensemble, the Dance I classes, and Choreographer’s Workshop, showcasing a range of experience from students who performed for the first time to those wishing to professionalize. Throughout the evening the celebration of student voice was the unifying factor. All of the pieces presented were either collaboratively choreographed between students and dance educator, Elizabeth Rose Zwierzynski, or completely student conceived, choreographed, and directed.


The six student-choreographed works were the culminating project of the Choreographer’s Workshop class. The pieces ranged from exploring themes of identity, depression, cultural celebration, relationship building, dystopian society, and an exploration of movement qualities. Throughout the semester the students worked up to this project by exploring different improvisation scores and stimulus to inspire movement generation, applying conventional choreographic devices, structures, and forms, and creating proposals for their works including a project description, artistic statement, resume, and biography. After the students proposed their works, they collaboratively split their classmates as cast members and directed student rehearsals for the remainder of the semester. The curricular scope at TCHS presents a gradual release model that informs, nurtures, hones, and presents student voices. As TCHS Principal, Hope Grant, reflected in her closing announcement at the showcase, “This is a program that allows the students to become the teachers, and the teacher to become the facilitator”.

In its third year, the TCHS Dance Department has demonstrated growth in curricular development, student recognition, and community partnerships. This year marks the program’s first professionalization of two dancers who are choosing to study dance at the collegiate level. We are also proud to announce 2017 graduate, Jose Lapaz-Rodriguez, was named the Dance Recipient for the NJ 2017 State Showcase Scholarship. Community partnerships were strengthened in and outside of the classroom. During the fall, all male modern dance company, 10 Hairy Legs, was in residence with the Dance Performance Skills students.   Additionally, Trenton is one of the Kennedy Center’s partner sites for Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child.

The program assists communities in developing and implementing a plan for expanded arts education in their schools, ensuring access and equity for all students through the model of collective impact. As dance continues to develop in Trenton, I would be remiss if I did not thank the leadership for supporting the vision for a strong dance education. Many thanks are in order to Vice Principal of the Visual and Performing Arts Academy, Melissa Wyatt, Principal of Trenton Central High School, Hope Grant, and Supervisor of Fine & Performing Arts, Norberto Diaz. As we gear up for next year, I am wishing all NJ arts educators and arts partners a restful summer.


Elizabeth Rose Zwierzynski B.F.A., Ed.M

Dance Educator

Visual & Performing Arts Academy

Trenton Central High School




Highlights from 2017 New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival & Scholarships

The New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival commenced the 2nd year of its return and revival at Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ on May 31st, June 1st and 2nd. Thousands of students, teachers, parents and arts advocates from across New Jersey gathered at Ocean County College for the three day state-wide showcase and celebration the accomplishments in arts education by educators and their pupils. This educational and community driven event would not be possible without the generous support of the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, New Jersey Education Association, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the New Jersey State Council of the Arts.

The New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival is the statewide culminating celebration of the arts dedicated to inspiring New Jersey teen artists, educators, professional artists and arts advocates from all across the state to unite as one grand and all-inclusive community. The New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival strives to connect Teen Artists across the state to inspire collaborations amongst the young creative minds to invest in the pursuit of artistic professions and New Jersey Artist Network. Students and Educators from 16 different counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Salem, Somerset, Sussex and Union. Festival attendees partook in the Showcase-Adjudication process, Professional Development for teachers, the College Fair, Professional Guest Artist Performances and Master Class Workshops for students.

There were a number of Master Class Workshops offered for students such as Behind the Puppet Stage which introduced students and educators to the diverse and multifaceted art form of Puppetry, taught by Bart P. Roccoberton, Jr., Director of the world renowned Puppet Arts Program at the University of Connecticut. Some additional Master Class Workshops offered were Hip-Hop Dance taught by NYC Choreographer, Doug Elkins, Charcoal Portraits taught by Atlantic City based artist, Luz Sanchez and Ceramics: Empty Bowls Raising Hunger Awareness taught by sculptor and activist artist Mil Wexler. The bowls created by the New Jersey Teen Artists in Mil Wexler’s ceramics workshop will be donated to raise money for those in need at an event hosted by Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen in Toms River, NJ later in the Fall.

The New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival, in addition, honored the 2017 Arts Educator of the Year, Valerie Y. Synder-Grollman, who was honored on June 2nd at a ceremony for her dedication to her students and arts departments in North Brunswick Township High School. Selected Students as well were recognized by the State Festival for their artistic accomplishments in the form of nine individual State Showcase Scholarships, who are as follows: Jose Lapaz-Rodriguez for Dance, Isaiah Petit Compere for Theatre, Tyler Sacko for Instrumental Music, Olivia Youngman for Vocal Music , Kaite Nguyen for Filmmaking, Rebecca Oldham for Creative Writing, Sarah Vargas for 2D Visual Arts, Maria Lu for 3D Visual Arts, Carolyn Galgano for Photography.

The New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival will return again in the spring of 2018. please follow the State Festival on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat & YouTube: @NJTEENARTS and visit www.njteenarts.com to stay up to date with all things NJ Teen Arts!

2017 State Showcase Scholarship Recipients! Check them out!

Congratulations to all!

And thank you to Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation for supporting the 2017 State Showcase Scholarships!

The 2017 State Showcase Recipients:

Rebecca Oldham
Cedar Creek High School
Atlantic County

Jose Lapaz-Rodriguez
Trenton Central High School
Mercer County

Kaite Nguyen
Ocean Township High School
Monmouth County

Tyler Sacko
Toms River High School East
Ocean County

Carolyn Galgano
Sparta High School
Sussex County

Isaiah Petit Compere
Ewing High School
Mercer County

Maria Lu
Bridgewater Raritan High School
Somerset County

Sarah Vargas
Bergen County Academies
Bergen County

Olivia Youngman
Point Pleasant Borough High School
Ocean County

Harrison H. Haney

NJ State Teen Arts Coordinator

Blog: Arts Ed Now- Local Action, Collective Impact


This June the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership took part in Sustainable Jersey’s 2017 Sustainability Summit, held at The College of New Jersey. A spirit of collaboration filled the air, as the theory of collective impact was made tangible during the one-day Summit. Sessions throughout the afternoon featured varied topics such as coding for community, complete streets, and strategies to support local sustainability initiatives. The advantages of working collectively toward common goals were evident throughout the Summit. And in The Art of Sustainability: Turning Creativity into Problem Based Solutions the benefits were writ large.

A showcase of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) teaching and learning, the session was intended to highlight “examples from participating schools using integrated Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math to prepare the next generation of sustainability leaders”. The panelists represented many organizations that have led efforts related to STEAM throughout New Jersey. Heather McCall, Sustainable Jersey for Schools Program Director, and Mary M. Reece, Director of Special Projects, Foundation for Educational Administration, introduced the new iSTEAM actions that will soon be part of the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program. Jackie Knox, Education Program Associate, Young Audiences New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania and Adrienne R. Hill, Principal, Hedgepeth/Williams Middle School of the Arts, spoke about the impact of STEAM learning on student achievement and school climate. Hill described her school as a place to foster hope and joy through arts learning. Their stories were paired with photos and videos, revealing students captivated by arts learning. The photos of students immersed in creative experimentation, critical thinking, and problem solving spoke volumes!

The Art of Sustainability concluded by connecting to Arts Ed Now, New Jersey’s statewide arts education public awareness campaign, and a demonstration of the many resources that are available at www.artsednow.org. Many of us have grown to love the familiar Arts Ed Now rally cry, “Active creative learning is good for all students, and good for New Jersey! Let’s Do More.” Robust arts programs foster active creative learning, which is one of the first principles of iSTEAM. In practice, rigorous integrative STEAM learning is known to “stimulate student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking” that can be applied to real world challenges outside the classroom.

As the Arts Ed Now ambassadors continue to spread the campaign message, the collective impact of the work grows more evident. When each of us asks, “How might my local action advance collective goals?” we increase the possibility of making new connections between our efforts and the efforts of others. The art of sustainability is that of local action and collective impact. To echo a favorite rally cry…Let’s Do More!



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