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Monthly Archives: December 2017

The Beat: Arts Ed NJ’s Monthly Newsletter – December

A Farewell to Kris Wenger

Blog: Spotlight on Dance Education in Elizabeth NJ Alyssa Fisher Dance Teacher EPS William F. Halloran #22


I am so proud to be part of a district that is making such strides in providing a comprehensive dance education by professional, highly qualified dance teachers. We have such an amazing team and we continue to grow!  I am so lucky to work for a district that supports the arts, especially dance.” (Amanda J. Camp-Colon EPS High School Dance Teacher)

Every New Jersey student deserves the right to a high-quality dance education that is innovative and supportive.

In order to succeed in today’s competitive work force an education in dance is crucial in order to think collectively, creatively and confidently; all desirable characteristics for future employers.

Elizabeth Public Schools is making tremendous progress in providing quality dance education to all pre-k through 12th grade students, but sadly it is one of the few schools in the state that offers such programming. Elizabeth Public Schools hired its first dance educator in 1995 and has since grown its department to consist of 9 resourceful, passionate and highly qualified dance educators. That kind of substantial growth can only flourish under supportive leadership.

“As a school principal, I greatly support the arts for my own children, as well as my students!  In urban areas, this is even more important to provide these crucial opportunities for our students to tap into their inner potential!” (Principal Chihui Alfaro – EPS Principal).

The dance educators of Elizabeth are very fortunate to be in a position where they have such fantastic administrative support in which they can advocate for their programs.

“I first met Dennis Argul (EPS Supervisor of Music) at the New Jersey Music Administrator’s Association meeting in December 2016. At that meeting I gave a presentation about New Jersey’s mandate for providing K-12 dance to every child in every school. During the discussion portion, one of the attendees asked “Who is responsible for making sure the mandate is met?” After a short silence, Dennis Argul stood up and stated: “It is our job as Arts Coordinators. We are the leaders who should be helping to make this happen.” Since that time, I have found Mr. Argul to be taking numerous measures to make good on his responsibility. He is one of the most important advocates for dance education in this state — and a champion for ensuring equity in education for all children.” (Barbara Bashaw, President Dance New Jersey.)

10 Hairy Legs Executive Director Elizabeth Shaff Sobo noted, “We are pleased to return to Elizabeth Public Schools to provide Dance to Learn to all 2nd grade students at Jerome Dunn Academy #9. We greatly applaud that they embrace the value of creative learning through dance as an important component of their students’ academic growth. Having a knowledgable, enthusiastic and capable partner is essential to arts learning. Each time our Teaching Artists walk into the building they are greeted by faculty and staff with open arms and it is clear the students are eager to participate. This starts at the top with the tremendous leadership of Dennis Argul and his belief that every single student can excel and will. We are so pleased to be providing a fresh perspective to these young minds and bodies. Education is an important part of our work, and we are thrilled to be sharing the expertise and artistry with the Elizabeth community.”

In addition to these efforts, Elizabeth Public Schools supports professional dance companies by brining in residence artists such as 10 Hairy Legs to implement educational programming. It is through this sort of dedication and forward thinking that has made Elizabeth Public Schools such a nurturing, creative and most of all successful learning environment for its students.

Arts education. New buzz word or New approach? By: Tiffany Festa-Sneddon

Sixty percent of students reported being bored and disconnected in school. Why? How can we find better and creative ways to reach all learners? Arts education and arts integration help lead the path to reach all learners. Arts Ed touches that child who may be struggling academically, although, may be able to play an instrument or sing like a pro. The positive reinforcement used in that class may help that struggling student find success in school and beyond. Reaching students beyond the core classes engages all learners on various planes and intelligences. The arts are the missing link in education. The link that helps students make connections in different ways, using various parts of their brain. If that teacher knows the student enjoys a specific art form, the teacher can use that to differentiate a lesson for that student. For example, having the output or final assessment for that lesson be something other than a test. Something that showcases the skills of that learner while still addressing educational standards

What even defines “core classes”? Math, Language Arts and Science? As these classes are necessary and important, why does it trump all other learning? Educating the whole child must be taken into consideration or else what kind of people are we sending out into the world? Visual and performing arts must have a seat at the education table. Arts classes should be part of the weekly breadth of classes. Why? Hard, scientific evidence proves the arts tap into parts of the brain untouched by customary rote work.

Learning does not happen in only one classroom, with one teacher in one academic setting. Learning happens everywhere all the time

Without Arts Ed, I would have been lost. I would not have taken the career path that I did. Arts Ed and the wonderful educator who recognized that, helped propel me to lengths I thought I would never be able to reach based on a standardized test score. I personally have seen the arts take my own students onto amazing paths of their own.

This is arts education. The power is real and the time is now.

Second Grade students working with partners to create numbers and letters.

Grade 4 students wrote their own play, created props and rehearsing for their upcoming adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

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