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Guest Blog – Summer Discovery: The Role of Community Arts in Completing Arts Education

From a young age, I was fortunate to have an arts experience all-year round. As the school year bled into summer, my community, Randolph, seemed to light up with open-air concerts and theater. These concerts, which gave young classical, jazz, and even, reggae artists across Morris County the chance to display their musical talent, and despite their small scale, offered dimension to my arts experience with real-life exposure to styles that my music classes only identified. As summers passed, I became inspired to pursue the violin. I, too, envisioned myself playing behind Randolph Library to the adoring applause of fellow community members. Eventually, I had the chance to perform at a Randolph Summer Pops Concert with a classical quartet. As I looked out into the audience, this fledgling musical journey came full circle. Almost everywhere I looked, I saw a group of equally enthralled elementary school students, commencing their own exploration of music.

In addition to music, I developed as an artist, an actor, and a person through community theatre. With a mere 108 seats, the Brundage Park Playhouse felt almost incalculably enormous. Our full-stage productions of Aladdin, The Sound of Music, and Alice in Wonderland inspired my stage presence, and when I could look out to an audience and see the same townspeople with whom I went to school with, the library with, and even summer concerts with, I felt secure enough to perform authentically. At the end of each summer, we organized a Kid’s Cabaret, a medley of songs and skits that explored themes universal to Randolph youth: growing up, the high school experience, and pop culture. With summer theater, I felt proud to live in a town that valued its performers and embraced the chance to be entertained.

These two arts opportunities fundamentally changed my life. Community art gave depth to the breadth of my school arts experience. It forced me to practically explore what it meant to create and perform. Still, I understand that these opportunities simply do not exist in most communities across New Jersey. That’s why Arts Ed Summer is so fundamentally important. It creates a network of events and professionals that can keep arts education alive even as the school year ends. This flurry of shows, exhibitions, and concerts can offer the same self-discovery, the same educational development to students across New Jersey. You, too, can get involved by telling your story on Arts Ed Now’s website (www.artsednow.org), adding your event to the map of New Jersey’s summer arts projects, and getting social with the #artsednow hashtag. Please, contribute to Arts Ed Summer, and offer a holistic arts education to students this summer.

 

Written By: Christopher Maximos

BLOG: Introducing our Summer Communications Intern!

Hello, everyone! My name is Christopher Maximos, and I’m extremely excited to be NJ Arts Ed NJ’s new (and best) communications intern! I currently attend Delbarton School in Morristown, where I’ll be a senior this fall. At Delbarton, I participate in a variety of academic, political, and journalistic extracurriculars, but my central focus has been the arts. My experience in the arts dates back to my early childhood, when I wanted to be a Broadway actor: I would compel my parents and neighbors to watch long shows of me singing, dancing, and acting. Unfortunately, I was not a triple threat, and my passion for theater quickly manifested into a love for speech and debate. Over the past six years, I’ve competed at the national level in a variety of public speaking competitions, winning national titles and developing a stronger sense of confidence, argumentation, and presence. Now, as I prepare for the next chapter of my academic career, I’ve taken great steps to coach the younger members of our school’s team and have founded both my own podcast, Extempolitik, and my own educational initiative, teachspeech, to offer free, youth-centered curricular resources in public speaking. In my sophomore year, I was lucky enough to win my first Governor’s Award in Arts Education for my state championship in impromptu speaking. As I stood, surrounded by the states most talented artists, I finally grasped the importance of the arts advocacy organizations such as Arts Ed NJ, devoted arts teachers, and in the case of public speaking, the New Jersey Speech & Debate League. Every student, in the pursuit of a balanced education, should have the opportunity to learn and master an artistic discipline. My devotion in speech & debate has taught me to be a better student, but more importantly, a better person. I hope that in working with Arts Ed NJ, we can mobilize this amazing network of scholars, educators, and patrons to afford every student the opportunity to amplify their artistic voice.

Guest Blog: AENJ Youth Art Month “Building Community Through Art”.

The theme for the 2017/2018 school year is “Building Community Through Art”.

Youth Art Month is a celebration of the visual arts!  The Council for Art Education (CFAE) administers Youth Art Month. Youth Art Month encourages support for quality school art programs, and promotes art material safety. The Council for Art Education (CFAE) administers the program at the national level. The program provides a medium for recognizing skills developed through visual arts experiences unlike any other curriculum subjects, including:

  • Problem solving

  • Creativity

  • Observation

  • Communication

Art shows, special exhibits, fundraisers, and school and community activities take place annually, traditionally during March, to celebrate visual art education for grades K – 12.

Started in 1961 through The Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI), Youth Art Month exists to:

  1. Recognize art education as a viable factor in the total education curricular that develops citizens of a global society.

  2. Recognize art is a necessity for the full development of better quality of life for all.

  3. Direct attention to the value of art education for divergent and critical thinking.

  4. Expand art programs in schools and stimulate new art programs.

  5. Encourage commitment to the arts by students, community organizations, and individuals everywhere.

  6. Provide additional opportunities for individuals of all ages to participate in creative art learning.

  7. Increase community, business and governmental support for art education.

  8. Increase community understanding and interest in art and art education through involvement in art exhibits, workshops, and other creative ventures.

  9. Reflect and demonstrate the goals of the National Art Education Association that work toward the improvement of art education at all levels.

We are also happy to note, that New Jersey has won the CFAE Award of Excellence for the past two years, for their Youth Art Month work.  In addition, the Art Educators of New Jersey (AENJ), also awards and recognizes its members who excel in their Youth Art Month activities.  Yearly at their Fall Conference, AENJ honors members with the Linda Lora Pugliese YAM Award and the Lynn Dodson YAM Award of Excellence.  The Linda Lora Pugliese Award was established to honor former President, Linda Pugliese, whose dedication to Youth Art Month was rewarded with the first National Claire Flanagan Grand Award. This award recognize a current county YAM chair or the leadership team who has done the most to increase support for quality art programs and exhibits through the medium of Youth Art Month. The Lynn Dodson YAM Award of Excellence was established to honor Lynn Dodson who was the first New Jersey recipient of the Youth Art Month NAEA Award of Excellence. This award recognizes a county YAM chair, co-chair or an individual AENJ member who has demonstrated an outstanding support for Youth Art Month activities.

In New Jersey, we celebrate Youth Art Month with seventeen county art shows, and a State Exhibition and Reception.  Over 100 teachers will submit their students’ artwork to be exhibited at the State YAM Reception, which will take place at the Statehouse and Annex in Trenton, New Jersey from March 3 to March 9, 2018.  In the past, we have received and displayed six of the best 2D pieces from K-12 student artists from each county in the state.  This year, we are expanding our YAM Exhibit by including 3D pieces!  These pieces will be submitted as high-quality, matted or mounted pictures, and will displayed as part of our YAM State Exhibit.  Each county is allowed up to three 3D entries from any grade level, which brings our total number of student art pieces on display to nearly 200!!!  On Friday, March 9, AENJ will hosts two Receptions and Awards Ceremonies for the students whose work has been selected.  The High School Reception will feature a guest speaker, followed by an evening reception for K-8 students and their families.

New Jersey State YAM Chairs: Kristy Lopez & Karen Mannino:  yam@aenj.org

 

Exhibit: March 3 – 9, 2018

Location: Capitol Building Annex Tunnel, 125 West State Street, Trenton, NJ

Reception – Friday, March 9, 2018, Capitol Building Annex Committee Rooms 4&5, 125 West State Street, Trenton, NJ

High School Reception (Grades 9-12): 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm, Awards Ceremony at 1:00 pm

Elementary Reception (K-8): 5:30 pm to 7:45 pm, Awards Ceremony at 6:30 pm

 

ATLANTIC / CAPE MAY

Exhibit: March 2nd-March 27th

Location: Noyes Art Garage of Stockton University, 2200 Fairmont Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ

Reception: Saturday, March 10, 11:30am-1pm

 

BERGEN

Exhibit: TBD

Location: Bergen County Plaza Offices, 1st Floor Lobby/Conference Room, One Bergen County Plaza, Hackensack, NJ

Reception: TBD

 

BURLINGTON

Exhibit: TBD

Location: WIlliam G. Rohrer Library, 15 MacArthur Blvd. Haddon Township, NJ

Reception: TBD

 

CAMDEN

Exhibit: TBD

Location: TBD

Reception: TBD

 

CUMBERLAND, GLOUCESTER & SALEM

Exhibit: March 2 – March 16, 2018

Location: Greater Bridgeton Family Success Center, 155 Spruce Street, Bridgeton, NJ

Reception: Friday, March 2, 2018   6:30pm-7:30pm

 

ESSEX

Exhibit: TBD

Location: Essex County Hall of Records, 465 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Newark, NJ

Reception: Friday, March 23, 2018  12:00pm

 

HUDSON

Exhibit: TBD

Location: Liberty Science Center, 222 Jersey City Blvd, Jersey City

Reception: TBD

 

HUNTERDON & WARREN

Exhibit: TBD

Location: Hunterdon Health and Wellness Center, Clinton, NJ

Reception: TBD

 

MERCER

Visit Mercer YAM on Facebook and Twitter @mercer_nj_yam

Exhibit: March 2nd – April 14th

Location: Artworks Trenton, 19 Everett Alley, Trenton NJ  (http://artworkstrenton.org/)

Reception: Saturday, March 10th, 2018 2:00pm-4:00pm

The Mercer County YAM website is:

https://www.facebook.com/MercerCountyYAM/?ref=bookmarks

The Mercer County YAM twitter handle is:

@mercer_nj_yam

 

MIDDLESEX

middlesexyam@hotmail.com

Exhibit: TBD

Location: Middlesex County College, Student Gallery in the College Center, 2600 Woodbridge Ave, Edison

Reception: TBD

 

MONMOUTH

Exhibit: TBD

Location: CVA Gallery Brookdale Community College, 765 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft, NJ

Reception: TBD

 

MORRIS

Position Open, contact yam@aenj.org to get involved!

Exhibit: TBD

Location: TBD

Reception: TBD

 

OCEAN

Exhibit: TBD

Location: Ocean County Library – Brick Branch, 301 Chambers Bridge Road, Brick, NJ

Reception: Thursday, March 29, 2018  6:00pm-8:00pm

 

PASSAIC

Exhibit: March 4th – March 21st

Location: Louis Bay 2nd Library, 345 Lafayette Ave, Hawthorne, NJ

Reception: Thursday, March 21st, 2018 6:00-8:00pm

 

SOMERSET

The Somerset YAM teacher website is: https://sites.google.com/site/somersetyouthartmonth/

Exhibit:  Exhibit 1 (K-5) March 6-11th; Exhibit 2 (6-12) March 14-25th

Location: The Center for Contemporary Art (CCA), 2020 Burnt Mills Road, Bedminster, NJ

Reception:  Exhibit 1 (K-5) Reception March 11th 2-3:30pm; Exhibit 2 (6-12) Reception March 25th 2-3:30pm

 

SUSSEX

Exhibit: TBD

Location: Sussex County Arts and Heritage Council Gallery

Reception: TBD

 

UNION

The Union County YAM teacher website is:

https://sites.google.com/site/njunioncountyyam/home

Exhibit:  March 1 – March 23

Location: The Plaza @ Elizabethtown Gas Company/Liberty Hall Center, 1085 Morris Ave., Union, NJ

Reception: Friday, March 23, 2018 from 5:00pm – 7:00pm

 

WARREN (see Hunterdon & Warren above)

Exhibit, Location, Reception – see above Hunterdon & Warren

Guest Blog by Alyssa Sileo of The Laramie Project Project

Thanks to my arts education, I can say that, as an 18-year-old, I feel entirely equipped to address all that life can throw at meーwith excitement and curiosity.

It’s not only the “special skills” section of my résumé that is augmented by my theatre experience. Interpersonal communication and public speaking skills will never go without use, but something often unidentified that arts ed has helped me and every other student to develop is a strong set of values.

My internal inclinations toward choosing generosity and standing up for others is due to the multiple perspectives that theatre challenges me to consider, along with the historical accounts and cultural experiences that are celebrated within the arts. And since theatre and the arts take the concept of “hands-on” education to the next level, I recognize a specific, ongoing segment of my life that required me to:

1) become a breathing-encyclopedia of a docu-play,

2) build an international community from a Google account,

3) and get really good at writing email pitches.

It’s thanks to a theatre teacher and the compassion of other theatre teachers from around the world that I’ve discovered my own life purpose, and that I am working to help others find their own.

In the summer of 2016, it was announced that our Junior Class Production would be The Laramie Project by Moisés Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theater Project. This play uses found texts and interviews to chronicle the response of the 1998 hate crime against Matthew Shepard, a young advocate and gay University of Wyoming student. While this wasn’t the first hate crime ever, it was one of the first anti-gay acts of violence that caught worldwide attention and started a wave of fighting for hate crime legislation.

I was immediately struck by the incredible script and powerful story. As a theatre artist and an out LGBTQ+ teen, I know my performance of Laramie would be the ultimate synthesis of my earnest passion for equality. In the middle of a conversation with my drama teacher and director of the play, Ms. Kirstin Lynch-Walsh, at a Thespian troupe meeting, I expressed my want to create some kind of project in tandem with Laramie so I could maximize its impact on our school and greater community.

Her: “Well, I want to connect 49 Laramies to honor the 49 Pulse victims.”
Me: “…Okay. Wow. That’s it, I’m taking that.”

Since then, our The Laramie Project Project (or LPP) has grown into a theatre advocacy and education initiative that unites and catalyzes worldwide productions and readings of the play to honor victims of current hate crimes.

In the early days of the project: In between (and sometimes during) biology classes, amidst college research, and throughout intermission conversations, along with the support of upperclassmen and my drama teachers, I reached out to hundreds of high schools, theatres, and advocacy groups and encouraged them to set up events and spaces to bring Laramie to their communities. I scoured Facebook event pages for Laramies in the rehearsal process so I could ask them to add the LPP element of dedicating their production to someone we had lost to the horrific hate crime that was, at the time, the worst mass-shooting on American soil.

I watched the LPP go from a state project, to a regional project, to a national project, and, thanks to the power of social media, an international project. Production managers, directors, teachers, and passionate student leaders embraced our initiative and expanded our reach.

To date, we connect with 66 LPP events in 23 states and three other countries. High school Thespian Troupes and Gay-Straight Alliances, colleges, pro and amateur theatres, and community and religious groups have shared the story of Laramie with their hometowns, creating a loving tribute while making a statement that hate crimes can never be normalized, ignored, or tolerated. We began by honoring the Pulse victims, and since every name has since been honored in towns across miles and the seas, we have expanded to a larger list of people to memorialize, which makes for partnerships with the organizations Matthew Shepard Foundation and The Dru Project.

The LPP Family advocates for arts education by providing the opportunity for theatre programs to put up a unique event that challenges their students to act as artist-advocates. By bringing communities together and educating audiences, it becomes clear that arts spaces are essential to cultivating compassion and acceptance. Being a Production-Companion Project, we also encourage students to construct their own PCPs for their school’s season. It’s my belief that every piece of the theatre catalogue has an advocacy-initiative inside of it, and that students are the ultimate vessels of these.

We are actively working to make mounting an LPP event as accessible and cost-free as possible for programs that may lack funding. The play already serves as a low-maintenance and all-the-while effective theatre piece. The casting size is super flexible, and as for the technical elements, it requires a minimal set, since locations switch frequentlyー from moment-to-moment. (However, we are never ones to quickly leave out our student tech-artists, so it must be noted that a Laramie with extensive tech elements is remarkably compellingーlots of use of video and pictures and other media is commonly found.)

Being a member of International Thespian Society (sponsored by the Educational Theatre Association) has been an extreme source of guidance and assistance in broadening this project’s geography. Since I can identify myself along with 2,300,000 students and alumni and who share similar and different Thespian traditions, we have a wonderful and immediate common ground to build upon. Leaders of ITS and EdTA have also been committed to sharing our mission on their social media accounts.

There is a subset of the LPP Family that, time and time again, exude the care and kindness that keeps this project alive. It’s the theatre teachers, who, despite their busy schedules and theatrical seasons, commit to our initiative. Through their advocating of our LPP, I learn how to make it better. While attending Thespian Festivals and LPP events, I am constantly inspired by these figures. They are the anchors of these students, gifting them with an outlet for expression and chances to name their goals. I also enjoy those looking-glass moments when I meet the students who bring LPP to their schools, and promote us on social media better than I ever can. They’re the future theatre educators.

I have been granted unthinkable gifts thanks to the LPP, namely establishing and maintaining connections with the aforementioned organizationsーincluding contact with the actual Tectonic Theater Project, who have been such strong supporters of us! I’ve additionally been granted times of being surrounded, whether digitally or physically, by luminaries of every age and background. I think about how my definition of artist has been wildly revolutionized throughout every phase of this process, and happily await for the forthcoming moments of surprise. Theatre-makers must serve as the caretakers of equality; that’s something I know for sure.

The LPP is a joyful responsibility I will carry from high school to college and beyond, because my love for and trust in this play drives me to adding to its legacy.

Arts Ed NJ is the champion of the unreplaceable aspect of a student’s academic and personal development. Research, personal stories, and our own experiences persist to be proof that the arts in schools reap immeasurable benefits, all the while doing so in brilliant, lovely, unifying ways. I am a lifelong supporter of Arts Ed NJ because I know if not for a Thespian troupe to have a meeting for, and if not for a drama teacher to sponsor our troupe and and put on a production of Laramie, I am unsure if we would have reached the thousands of people that have (and will continue to) reach. I am unsure if we would have been able to honor the lives brutally stolen from the world. I am unsure if we would have been able to assure another LGBTQ+ student in an LPP event that they have a right to a safe and happy life.

Being a project without an identifiable financial process at the homebase, it’s every single platform that has ever shared our initiative with their audience or offered the smallest, kindest word, contribute to the fuel that keeps it running. So, all of my thanks to Arts Ed NJ, for not only what you have done to spread the message of our project, but also for what you do for students and the NJ community every day.

If you want to read more about the LPP, please check out our website, along with our Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts. We are always accepting registration from any group (theatre or otherwise) along with any and all inquiries at this link and thelaramieprojectproject@gmail.com.

Guest Blog with Miss Atlantic Shores 2018

For as long as I can remember, I have been involved in the arts. A comprehensive arts education was at the center of my young life. I grew up at the Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven, and every day was a new adventure. I took private lessons in dance and music, and eventually went to the OCVTS Performing Arts Academy, which is an arts high school made available to high school students in Ocean County. Throughout my academic career, I maintained a 4.0 average, was able to take all advanced classes in middle and high school, and get involved in various extracurricular activities. I graduated high school with 160 credits, when the New Jersey standard is 120 credits. Currently, I have the privilege of serving New Jersey as Miss Atlantic Shores, which is a title in the Miss America Organization.

Throughout my year of service, I have been promoting the importance of arts education, and how it can shape a child into a well-rounded member of the world. I have spoken at schools and public events, empowering children and young adults with their personal power, and how they can grow that power through the arts. I aim to be a role model for children who want to get involved in the arts, but may be afraid of trying something new. Access to the arts can supplement a traditional academic curriculum, and studies have shown that children who participate in an artistic class or club have scored higher on standardized testing. More than that, though, the arts encourage children to express themselves. Young people yearn to have a voice, and an artistic outlet can help them discover that voice. The world we are creating is creative and forward-thinking, and we need strong, impassioned individuals who will make a change. That confidence and drive is garnered at a young age, and I have seen firsthand how the arts can help foster that confidence.

 

 

I strive to be the example that an arts education can help you leaps and bounds, regardless of whether or not you continue into an arts related occupation. My goal is to show young people that armed with an arts education, they will realize how powerful they really are. I truly believe that once involved in the arts, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. The world is at your fingertips, you have to decide when you’re ready to take it.

 

Guest Blog by Christa Steiner is, first and foremost, a Jersey girl! Born and raised in Beach Haven, she is a member of the inaugural Musical Theatre Program at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music in New York City. She has performed with Kristin Chenoweth, Norm Lewis, and most recently, with Megan Hilty at Carnegie Hall. She is the Manager of the Show Place Ice Cream Parlour in Beach Haven, as well as the Social Media Director of Surflight Theatre. She currently holds the title of Miss Atlantic Shores 2018, and uses her title to promote the importance of arts education with her platform, ART for smART. She will be competing for the title of Miss New Jersey 2018 in June.

 

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.

What Does an Arts Ed Now Ambassador Look Like? – Arts Ed Now Teacher Contest

As part of the Arts Ed Now campaign, we asked educators in New Jersey to create a three-photo storyboard to describe what it means to be an Ambassador. Here is what our winners had to say on social media. Meet the Winners!

1st Place: High School

Cumberland Regional High School

Elisabeth Campbell, Drama Academy Teacher

“Arts education is so important for all children.  I always find that the students who participate in arts related activities in school are the ones who are the innovators of the future.  The arts are all about being creative and being collaborative, both of which are necessary to succeed in life.  Your campaign is so important for raising awareness about how necessary it is to have the arts in education.  I am so grateful for programs such as yours. “

Hello!  My name is Elisabeth Campbell and I am the Drama Academy teacher at Cumberland Regional High School.  We have a Drama Academy that has 4 levels (Drama Academy 1, Drama Academy 2, Drama Academy 3, and Drama Academy 4), in addition to having two elective courses (Drama/Public Speaking, Advanced Drama) for non-academy students.  I teach the entire Academy courses and the Drama/Public Speaking courses, so I teach grades 9-12.  This is my 14th year teaching at Cumberland.  When I started, there was only one section of the Drama/Public Speaking class. I saw that there was a need for more sections and more levels and I collaborated with a former colleague to help create the Drama Academy program.  Our students perform a fall play and spring musical each year.  They also participate in the annual Shakesperience competition at Rider University in May.  We were also selected to be a part of the Adopt-A-School Program at Papermill Playhouse, and we will be hosting a teaching artist this year.

I am excited to say that our program has grown into one that is very comprehensive and helps prepare students for careers in the performing arts.

1st Place: Middle School

South Orange Middle School

Jake Ezzo, Choral Director

“I participated in this contest because I have made it my mission to re-define what a middle school choral program consists of. Simply put, arts education is the only domain in which students have complete agency in the art that they create. Even though each ensemble strives for common goals in repertoire pieces for public performance, each child also has personal goals which creates both group and individual agency. ”

About the Program-

Led by Mr. Ezzo, a Westminster Choir College alumni, the 300 member+,South Orange Middle School (SOMS) choral department seeks to redefine what a middle school choral experience is in the 5 different choirs offered to students. Mr. Ezzo came to SOMS in 2013-2014, and immediately began rebuilding the choir program from 11 6-8 in the past to 370+ last year. In the current school year, choir members have organized a benefit concert for hurricane victims and invited other schools, local bands, and even Broadway performers to help raise money for this cause. Choir members participate in 8 concerts throughout the year, and our select choirs travel to 6 flags for a competition, where they have scored a 99 and 100 last school year.

New for 2017-2018, Mr. Ezzo hopes to make the SOMS Chorus department the first S.T.E.A.M.(Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) classroom in the state of New Jersey. Currently, Mr. Ezzo has introduced LittleBits (a modular STEM-based building system) and project-based learning into the 6th grade choral curriculum, and also has started an afterschool Robotics club to help empower students, especially girls, into the field of S.T.E.M!

Student choice and a strong community culture are absolutely key for the success of the choral program. An 8th grade executive board of 8 diverse students help make all we do possible, assist Mr. Ezzo in planning, come up with fundraising and programming ideas, and perform community outreach. Students regularly conduct, arrange, accompany, write, and perform solos for the community through the program.

2nd Place: Middle School

Crockett Middle School

Lora Marie Durr, Artist / Educator

The goal of the art department is to make it clear to all visitors of the building that arts education matters to Crockett students and staff! By creating larger-scale collaborative artwork, such as the examples in the photos we shared, students are able to make their learning visible to all who view it.  “

I am Lora Marie Durr – art teacher at Crockett Middle School (Hamilton Township School District, Mercer County). I teach 6-7-8 arts and have been here since 2001!

I love creating projects with my students, which are collaborative and involve our school community. The photos I included were part of what the art department contributed to back to school night – a scavenger hunt that encouraged parents to look closely at our student-created public art and a Photo Booth for parents and staff members to enjoy.

In addition to teaching, I paint – I recently had a piece accepted into the NAEA juried members exhibit. I am on the Board of Directors for AENJ and was named my building teacher of the year last year.

Arts Ed NJ congratulates these educators for winning the Arts Ed Now storyboard contest!

These Ambassadors have shown us how a student’s learning is enriched as a result of their advocacy and hard work.

 

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!

 

 

BLOG: Lessons in Dance to Help Choreograph Your Future

The Paramus High School Dance Departments’ Power of The Dance 4- Concert on June 1, 2017 was filled with a collection of intriguing pieces of choreography which educated, inspired and ignited the audiences imagination. Each piece reflected on our history, past and shared our hopes for our future.  As a dance educator and choreographer, it is my mission to use the art of Dance as powerful tool that is beyond entertainment; conveying stories and meaningful messages about ourselves and the world around us.

This year Dance at PHS was filled with so many exciting and amazing opportunities in Dance and for our community. The Paramus Chamber of Commerce Dream Grant Foundation provided us with a grant supporting my Broadway Meets The Artist Dream Grant.This generous grant provided students with full day professional dance experiences in New York participating Broadway Classroom Step by Step Workshops for An American In Paris & Hamilton as well as attended An American In Paris and Paramour on Broadway. Dancers were able to meet cast members, learn original choreography and participate in Q & A sessions sharing their wisdom from the field. We were also fortunate to have guest artists Laurena Barros, Former Rockette for a Precision Kick Line Workshop and Kid Glyde from Broadway Dance Center for a Hip Hop & Break Dancing Workshop. During holiday season The Spartanettes began a new tradition “Sharing The Gift Of Dance” assembly programs performing at all schools district wide in addition to our Annual Holiday Concert. Dancers and I also visited NJPAC twice this year to see live professional performances of Ballet Hispanico and Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and participate in professional workshops with Dance New Jersey. In April, another magical moment , was a collaborative performance sharing the stage with Mr. Donellan and The Wind Ensemble bringing An American In Paris to life on stage for our K-12 Arts Festival. This year’s Power of Dance concert featured original pieces of choreography created by our Dance Honor students. Each piece was created to raise awareness about particular social issues our youth face today, part of our Dance for Democracy and Social Consciousness Unit. Throughout the evening concert, students shared mission statements as well beautiful dances about 9/11, Bullying, Body Image and Adversity. As well as performed Identity, a piece honoring the Holocaust, which was inspired by the poem I Am A Jew by Franz Bass , from the book I Never Saw Another Butterfly– Children’s Drawings and Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp, 1942-1944. We were beyond proud of Senior, Emily Pagano, 2017 Governor’s Award in Arts Education for Excellence in Artistry & Leadership in Dance; who performed her solo work to Maya Angelous’s poem “Still I Rise” in her mission statement she shared…”Confucius once said, “our greatest glory is not in never failing, but rising in every time we fall,” this couldn’t be any closer to what I focused on when choreographing my piece too Still I Rise. I created this piece to let people know it’s okay to fall. We live in a world where people have this preconceived idea that to fall, is to be weak. However, I’m here to let you know that it’s not the struggle that determines your inner strength, it is your willingness to rise from the fall.” The evening concluded with all dancers performing to an instrumental version of Imagine, utilizing sign language and dance to convey powerful message of unity.

 It has been amazing year for the Dance Department that has reaffirmed the” Power of Dance” as a universal language that all can comprehend. Thank you to Paramus Board of Education, Dance New Jersey, Dance New Jersey-Dance PLC, Arts Ed Now and all the dancers for your endless hard work , dedication and commitment to the Dance program and Arts Education. Nietzsche said, “We should consider each day lost in which we have not danced at least once.” For me, everyday has been found.

All of these amazing experiences inspired me to write a poem- Lessons In Dance To Help Choreograph Your Future- embodying the meaning of “power of Dance” and what we as Dance Educators are really teaching ! (see poem attached below)

Hope you enjoy !

 

– Claudine Ranieri

Dance Educator

Paramus High School

Early Childhood & LEAP Dance Programs

Artistic Director of The Spartanettes

 

 

Lessons in Dance to Help Choreograph Your Future

Blog: A Message to the 2017 Governor’s Awards in Arts Education Nominees From Past Winners! Good Luck!

The Governor’s Award in Arts Education has special significance to each winner.

This month, NJAEP features two messages that were written for the 2017 nominees. Each speaks to the confidence, courage, and perseverance developed through the arts. Enjoy!


My name is Morgan Mastrangelo and I won two Governor’s Awards in the spring of 2016; one in Choral Music and one in Opera. I remember being thrilled to win one after being nominated in 2015 and falling short, but when I heard I had won a second one I really couldn’t believe it! I had no expectations going into the ceremony but remember being very impressed with the state building in Trenton, the reception afterward and of course, being surrounded by all that talent. I was honored to be invited to sing the National Anthem to kick off the ceremony and I remember how gratifying it felt to walk across that stage to receive my awards—a culmination of 4 years of really hard work.

Since then, I was accepted to Northwestern University where I am a Freshman in their (classical) Vocal Performance program. I was also selected to join their Musical Theatre Certificate Program. In my spare time I sing in the co-ed a cappella group, The Undertones, am involved in a student-run theatre group which writes and produces their own musical every year and was recently cast in two campus musicals: as JD in “Heathers: The Musical” and as Jon in “Tick, Tick Boom!”. This summer I was selected to perform at the New York Musical Theatre Festival and then I will be participating in an Opera and workshop back at Northwestern.  I am very busy, but so happy to be doing what I love and performing across all genres of music.

My advice to future awardees is to keep doing what you love! Obviously, if you have earned a Governor’s Award you have the talent–now keep going and don’t let anything stand in your way. I definitely think that my two Governor’s awards gave me (and my parents) extra confidence in my abilities and solidified my choice to continue my studies in music after High School. Good Luck!!

Sincerely,

Morgan


Winning the 2015 New Jersey Governor’s Award in Art Education — Multidiscipline has enabled me to follow my dreams and keep an open mind about what I’ll be doing in the future.  I never realized how much confidence the Governor’s Award would give me.  It has encouraged me to pursue a wide array of interests as well as reap rewards that I never thought possible.

This year, in addition to art opportunities and competition awards, I was so excited to be accepted to a week-long national advocacy institute in Washington, D.C. I also received a federal scholarship to study Mandarin in China for seven weeks while living with a host family.  Sometimes I feel this isn’t real since I’m still a junior in high school!

The most important intangible I received from the Governor’s Award in Arts Education, but never expected, is the courage to persevere — especially when not reaching goals the first time around — and the resilience to redouble my efforts, reapply myself and seek new opportunities.

What do I think the Governor’s Award can mean for you?  It means that you too can follow your heart and your dreams can really come true!!!

Sincerely,
David Jansen


I was awarded the 2016 New Jersey Music Educators Association (NJMEA) Master Music Teacher Award. When I attended the 2016 Governor’s Awards Ceremony, the amazingly talented students blew me away. By watching them, it inspired and rejuvenated me as a teacher. It reminded me that my young students can aspire to be a recipient of a Governor’s Award. I am so honored to have been a recipient and will continue to work diligently at creating a musically successful and inspiring classroom environment so that my students can be a recipient of this award some day.

Since the awards, our performing arts program at Far Hills Country Day School was named as one of the recipients of the NAMM SupportMusic Merit Award (SMMA) for 2017. The NAMM Foundation each year selects individual schools with excellent music education programs to receive the SMMA. We were very honored to be selected as one of only 92 schools in the entire country to receive this recognition.

My advice for future awardees is to keep doing what you are doing. If you love it, that is all that matters. Life is short. Find what you love to do, whether it is performing, singing, writing, acting, drawing, painting, etc, and live your life to the fullest. This country needs the fine arts, the visual arts, the performing arts, and other creative fields, to keep the creativity alive.

Sincerely,

Amy

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