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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

2017 National Arts Advocacy Day

This year’s National Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, DC had an undercurrent of energy that came from word that the President had proposed, just days earlier, elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts for FY2018. Over 700 people attended National Arts Advocacy Day sponsored by Americans for the Arts, and New Jersey’s delegation of 40, coordinated by ArtPride NJ, was the largest in NJ history. There were veterans who had attended previous years with of training and visiting the offices of NJ congressional representatives, and many who were first timers, learning facts and figures and understanding how best to make the case for federal support of the arts and humanities. We learned about how NEA funding affects the arts in New Jersey, and from each other we learned not to fear the short time allotted for advocating, but how to make the best use of that time with fresh approaches to storytelling.

In advance of the convening, ArtPride held a webinar for attendees to answer questions and explain the two-day event that included intensive advocacy training along with the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy, this year presented by Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation. Mr. Walker’s powerful remarks were compelling and portrayed how he became familiar with the arts as a child, perusing art magazines that his mother brought home from her job as a domestic in a wealthy household where attending cultural performances was a part of life, far removed from his own experience. He emphasized what we all felt deeply as arts advocates–that the arts are not a special interest, but a national interest that strengthens who we are.

Besides saving and increasing funding for the national cultural agencies, policy issues included arts education and support of all arts disciplines as part of a “well-rounded education” stipulated in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Representatives who are not currently part of the Congressional STEAM Caucus were invited to show their support for the arts in STEM by joining over 75 other members. The fact that arts programs are now eligible for through ESSA for Title 1 funds and other federal resources, was also stressed to elected officials.

If you were not able to attend National Arts Advocacy Day, there is still action you can take to help #SavetheNEA. The federal budget process is a long one that extends throughout the summer months to come. Visit ArtPride NJ’s online NEA toolkit for data on NEA grants in New Jersey, and information that will inform your personal communication with members of US Congress. From email to postcards to phone calls to social media, there are plenty of ways to keep this message alive and assure that federal funding remains in the budget and will help New Jersey arts programs continue to grow and thrive.

 

Ann Marie Miller

Director of Advocacy & Public Policy

ArtPride New Jersey Foundation

Blog: March is NJ TEEN ARTS COUNTY FESTIVAL Time!

This March begins the kickoff of the Teen Arts Festival circuit in New Jersey. Individual counties across New Jersey host local Teen Arts Festivals showcasing the literary, performing and visual talents of the resident teen artists. At these county festivals the students receive constructive feedback from professional artists. In addition to the showcasing of creative work students are able to partake in workshops where they can discover new art forms and learn more about their already dedicated art forms. Outstanding students from local Teen Arts Festival are nominated to represent their home county by showcasing their creative talents on the state level at the New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival on May 31st, June 1st and June 2nd   at Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ. The New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival is the culminating celebration and showcase of talented teen artists from all across the state of New Jersey.

The New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival strives to create a greater community amongst the arts educators and student artists them to come together is this state-wide celebration. At the New Jersey State Festival State Festival by offering Master Class Workshops for students, a College Fair, Special Guest Performances, and Professional Development Credits for Teachers. Junior and/or seniors who showcase their work are eligible to receive a $1,000 scholarship to further their education.

In addition to the day of festivities offered by the New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival efforts are being made now to help create a New Jersey Teen Artist Network by hosting the “Express Yourself Contests” where students can post their literary, performing and visual works on the New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival Facebook page: www.facebook.com/NJTEENARTS. Students can win a $25 Gift Card by posting their creative work and receiving the most likes for their Facebook post.

The New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival is also proud to announce the sponsorship provided by the New Jersey Education Association! The NJEA sponsorship combined with the sponsorship of the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation is sure to make the New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival the premier state-wide celebration of the arts in education!

Nominations are currently being sought for the Arts Educator of the Year Award presented by The New Jersey Education Association and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. This award has been established to honor an outstanding Arts Educator who has made a significant impact on their students, school district and community. The award includes the honor of the title along with a $3,500 stipend. The award recipient will be honored at the New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival on May 31st. Nominations can be made by school principals and arts supervisors. Visit: www.njteenarts.com/aey to submit nominations virtually and/or download the paper form.

Please head out and support your local County Teen Arts Festivals this March as well as those in the coming months leading up the New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival. Be sure to ask your County Teen Arts Coordinator about student nominations and overall participation for the New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival taking place at Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ on May 31st, June 1st and June 2nd 2017! We love to see you there! Visit: www.njteenarts.com to learn more and be sure to follow New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube : @NJTEENARTS

     

Harrison H. Haney
NJ State Teen Arts Coordinator

Blog: From Armenia With Love


The most important life lessons I have ever learned came from my music teacher in Yerevan, Armenia. When I was fifteen, Rita Israelovna Petrosian was my music theory and solfege teacher. Soft-spoken and kind, Rita Israelovna was a brilliant musician, hard-working single mother, and most importantly, a remarkable teacher. She encouraged curiosity in her students. She taught us how to connect the most complicated music theory concepts to the real life. She pushed us to be the best we could possibly be and made each and every one of us believe in ourselves. But the most important lesson I learned from her is that with passion, drive and hard work, anything is possible.


One of my first projects was about a musical form. As I started digging deep into the topic of my choice, the prelude form, I got excited to learn about the
evolution of this form and before I knew it, my project turned into a research paper. Flipping through sixty pages of my handwritten work, Rita Israelovna gradually raised her eyebrows in an amusement, gasped, slowly looked at me and said: “Բալիկ ձան (my dear child), there is nothing you cannot accomplish if you work hard.” I stood there in wonder. What does she mean? Why is she saying this

Day after day, Rita Israelovna made me work harder than I could have ever imagined. She gave me the toughest assignments and expected more from me than from any other student in that class. She knew right away I was hungry for challenges, so she accepted her own challenge of supporting me in my passionate journey of discovering music and what it meant to me. She encouraged and helped me in my struggles, making sure I never lost faith in myself. Three years later, I became a student in the dream school for anyone pursuing a music career, Moscow Conservatory. Rita Israelovna changed my life in the most profound and insightful way.

Music teachers have a unique platform to inspire and influence their students because the power of music is penetrating and everlasting. Music is the force that keeps me going, and this force motivates me to inspire my students to stay strong and never give up. Music’s transformative power is evident in the way my students grow and mature, and it gives me pure joy to watch them blossom. Through music, I teach my students to recognize beauty, have more love, compassion, respect, integrity and understanding. Through music, I teach my students how to be truly human.

As a State Teacher of the Year, a mother and a musician, I want to thank all my colleagues in the Arts Education for making this world a better place by bringing beauty, passion and love to our students. We should never forget what got us into education and why we do what we do every day. We should always remember that we have an enormous power to influence our students. Let’s not take a single day for granted but use it as an opportunity to help our students discover their passions and help them use the power of their dreams to find their voices.


Twenty-two years later after my graduation from Conservatory, I received a package in the mail from one of my classmates, Gohar, now a movie director and a producer. It was titled, “From Armenia with Love.” My heart palpitated as I unwrapped the protective bubble paper and discovered a VCR video. The video contained Rita Israelovna’s last interview, only a year before she passed away. In that interview, she was asked to name the proudest accomplishment of her career. “Argine Safari,” she said. “Argine inspired me to be the best teacher I could possibly be.” Tears came down my face as I thought of all that Rita Israelovna did for
me… You taught me that with passion and hard work, anything is possible. You taught me that my dreams and goals were worth all the hard work and pain. You taught me that music can change the world. Rita Israelovna, I am forever grateful to you.

Guest Blog Written By:

Mrs. Argine Safari
2016-2017 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year
State of New Jersey Department of Education

Blog: Arts Horizons Stands Alongside NJAEP

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Arts Horizons stands alongside the NJAEP in the campaign for #artsednow! Not only do we believe in the movement to support Arts Education in our communities, we wish to raise our voice in advocacy. For nearly 40 years, Arts Horizons enhances the lives of people of all ages and abilities by creating equitable opportunities to engage the arts. Arts Horizons believes in the power of the arts to enhance learning across disciplines and environments. We value the central role of artists and their work in our society.

In support of the campaign for #artsednow, we have activated our social media channels including facebook, twitter and Instagram. Social media allows us to share information, access news and opportunities in the field, and network with our community of peer partners who all stand committed to arts-in-education for our students and communities.

We are grateful for the help of Mr. Delroy Lindo, Actor, Theater Director and friend to Arts Horizons. In 2012 he was the honoree at the Arts Horizons LeRoy Neiman Art Center where he received the Distinguished Career in the Arts & Powerful Presence as a Role Model award. Mr. Lindo jumped right on board to share his voice, and invite the support of “The Good Wife’s ” Cush Jumbo – soon to be featured in the show’s spinoff “The Good Fight” on CBS.

Please enjoy our recent blog post for more details at #ARTSEDNOW – Or for more information contact Dena Malarek, Program Director – dena@artshorizons.org

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