Category Archives: Blog

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


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


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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Guest Blog: Timothy Craig 2016 Recipient of NJPSA’s Visionary Supervisor of the Year award

Guest Blog by: Timothy Craig
Director of Fine & Performing Arts and Business Education
Bayonne Public Schools

2016 Recipient of the NJPSA’s Visionary Supervisor of the Year award

My procrastination prevented me from working on this blog sooner. I wanted desperately to be profound, witty, insightful and worthy of the award I was so generously given this year. The truth is I do not think that I can be any of that. Simply put – I am an educator who loves education and will continue to devote my life to making the lives of students better. It is my hope that by promoting arts and business education that the Bayonne public school district will graduate better human beings who are prepared to meet the challenges of their colleges, careers, and ultimately to become the citizens we all want them to be.

Though the road is not always easy as we strive for relevance, funding, and support in an age of standardized testing, statistics, and data driven decisions, arts educators and supporters of arts education know that the fight is always worth fighting. When curricular classroom time for the arts is limited, we have looked for creative solutions to fill the void for our students – and our district now offers multiple extra curricular and Saturday programs in music, theater, and dance. These programs are accessible and affordable for all of the students in the city of Bayonne, and they are an important piece of our department goal to bring instruction in music, visual art, theater and dance to all students in grades Pre-K through 12.

The success of our curricular and extracurricular programs lies only in part with me, but mostly with the hard working, passionate and dedicated educators who teach these courses. I can truly say that the staff of the Fine & Performing Arts Department in Bayonne works tirelessly, giving so much of their talents and time to develop these programs. Like me, my staff recognizes the long lasting positive impact arts education will have on their students, and it is an honor to work alongside such talented educators towards our collective vision for arts education in Bayonne.

I am not suggesting that Bayonne will turn out hundreds of Picassos, Baryshnikovs or DeNiros, but I can say with confidence that we will educate human beings that will go out into the world prepared to use the immense power of the arts to bring people together, calling on the things that connect us rather than those that divide us.

I believe education is the most important element necessary to eliminate poverty, improve the health and sciences, and continue to build, discover and create. I believe the arts can surpass divisions in language, culture, theology and politics. To that end, I will passionately continue to fight for arts programs and support educators and education worldwide.

BLOG: Thank an Art Teacher! with Ann Marie Miller, ArtPride NJ.

When I think back over my 30+ year career in the arts I wonder, “Who is responsible for jumpstarting my love of the arts?” I often credit a high school teacher, Edith Henig, for requiring her class to keep a daily sketchbook. Mrs. Henig reviewed sketchbooks weekly, and mine contained what would now be considered doodles–over interpreted paisley and flowers reminiscent of Jefferson Starship album covers. Mrs. Henig left handwritten comments like “keep at it,” or “fantastic, you’re doing a great job!” Whether or not this was true, her notes certainly prompted me to continue and paved the road to pursuing the arts more seriously throughout high school.

I was lucky to be a student at East Brunswick High School, now designated a NJ model school of the arts, with amazing art teachers—Ken and Judy Koppel, Bill Murphy, Bill Marsh, Roy Risley, and Bette Lerner, teaching commercial art, printmaking, drawing and painting, ceramics and jewelry making. It was the 70’s and EBHS was way ahead of its time in developing an exemplary arts curriculum, and while I was there I had no idea they were trailblazers. I just knew art class was a place where I felt at home. There were 650 students in my graduating class, so it was easy to get lost in the shuffle, but not in the art room. At the same time, chorus was practicing down the hall in Building 3, and the now infamous Elliott Taubenslag, “Mr. T,” was coaching young drama students for the next EBHS theater production. It was art nirvana.

Before East Brunswick High School, I was a Catholic school student where art was poster contests and interpreting classic masterpieces, “picture studies” on postcards with essays. The Bernadine sisters were not big on art, but my penmanship remains testimony to their academic priorities. Back then it was my Mom who helped me with poster contests and reports on lives of the saints complete with statuary photos of all 12 apostles. Mom really was my first art teacher and loved painting—oil painting, ceramics, and up until her dying days a master of amazing needlepoint and crewel embroidery that grace my household today, so there was osmosis at work at an early age.

Post high school I entered Moore College of Art and Design, and Moore graced me with outstanding art educators including the late Deborah Warner who showed me that you can be an educator and maintain an accomplished artistic career as a fiber artist. I majored in Art Education with a goal to become an art teacher back at EBHS. That wasn’t in the cards, though I taught for a few years both privately and at 2 public high schools. There were other mentors yet to come to mold a career in public service.

During this season of thanksgiving, please thank an art teacher when you consider all who make a difference in the lives of students. You never know where their influence will lead, but you can safely bet that their creativity will breed an appreciation for beauty, discipline, skill, constructive criticism, history and much more that form the fiber of personal values and will carry them through their adult lives.

BLOG: Arts Ed Now – Local Heroes Spotlight

This September, in schools throughout New Jersey there was added cause for excitement amid the usual flurry of activity that marks the start of the school year. During National Arts in Education Week, September 12-17, students, parents, teachers, arts administrators, school leaders, and others joined together in celebration of the official launch of the Arts Ed Now campaign. Excitement for the campaign message continued to gain momentum during the week-long, statewide celebration. Enthusiastic ambassadors took to the internet to communicate their support. Photos and video were Shared, Liked and ReTweeted! Through various social media channels the “ArtsEdNow” hashtag reached millions of unique viewers.

Many organizations were eager to voice support for the chief campaign goal—increasing student participation in arts education. The collection of Local Heroes featured on the Arts Ed Now website is just a small sample of the mighty support and attention the Arts Ed Now campaign has received. By taking the lead, a marvelous group of dedicated champions served as shining examples. East Brunswick High School, Young Audiences NJ & Eastern PA, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and the New Jersey Education Association, are just a few of the Local Heroes that have inspired many more. You can find all Local Heroes stories here.

Participating in the launch enabled individuals and organizations to raise awareness about Arts Ed Now and to connect with others who feel it is important that all school districts in New Jersey provide students with robust arts education programs. A poll conducted by the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers revealed that 95% of NJ residents believe arts education is important for K-12 students, and only 30% have taken action to support arts education. Fortunately, with the launch of the Arts Ed Now campaign, residents now have many of the tools that are needed in order for coordinated, sustained action to take place.


Stay tuned for updates and check campaign central often (weekly, daily…or hourly!) to see what is taking place across the state. The website, www.artsednow.org, will continue to highlight the ongoing advocacy efforts of ambassadors throughout the multi-year campaign in New Jersey. You will also see ways to connect to the national network of advocates that remain active on social media. For example, this October, in honor of  Arts and Humanities month, we invite you to continue expressing your support for the arts by joining the Americans for the Arts #showyourart social media campaign. Highlight works of art from the daily theme graphic, using the hashtags #artsednow and #showyourart.


Arts Ed Now launched this September, but it will be part of New Jersey’s schools and communities for years to come!









BLOG: Creating a Campaign…Together by Ennis Carter, Director of Social Impact Studios

It’s always exciting to work on a new campaign. The energy of a powerful idea mixed with the spirit of dedicated advocates can spark creativity that makes promoting important social issues thrilling. At Social Impact Studios, we’ve help craft hundreds of public awareness initiatives over the years, and the best ones always bring together a large group to generate a message that amplifies all the voices of the people most affected by the issue. Arts Ed Now is one of those campaigns – and is especially exciting for us because we get to be a part of it as the effort’s Creative Partner.

In today’s media-focused culture, it’s fairly easy to design creative public awareness pushes. There are plenty of tools and a lot of good examples to follow. But creativity is not enough to make real and lasting change alone. To do that, you need to think beyond the “one-off” promotional campaign and leverage the strength of those involved – setting a stage that encourages movement-building at every step of the way. The Arts Ed Now campaign intentionally followed such a path and the backstory on its development is a good example of how challenging and rewarding it can be to work in creative collaboration with a group of dedicated people.

Arts Ed Now started out as the idea of a few inspired visionaries to pick up the baton from a previous campaign called “Arts for Every Kid.” More than a decade ago, Arts for Every Kid set out to assure arts education across the state of New Jersey. Having achieved the result of 97% of school districts now offering arts education in some form, the next step would be to increase participation for even better results. This time around, the process would focus on engaging existing arts education champions from local to state levels and across all ages from students themselves to teachers to long-time policy-makers and administrators. Instead of developing a ready-made campaign behind closed doors, Arts Ed Now stakeholders were part of the creation of a multi-year effort to increase active creative learning that is good for all students and good for New Jersey.

It was a smart approach. By building a movement as well as a platform, we not only engaged ambassadors ahead of the public campaign launch, but also learned more about what was really happening with arts education at the local level – and what needed to be done to address inequity in key areas of the state. The first year of direct, grassroots discovery revealed that there was still quite a bit of work to do to assure access for many students in New Jersey. We couldn’t leap only to increasing participation if baseline access wasn’t yet available everywhere. The power of a statewide stakeholder network now gives the campaign a way to address both elements simultaneously and achieve results through shared experiences and practices.

As we all get ready for the public launch of Arts Ed Now during Arts Education Week September 12 – 17, 2016, it is exciting to see how the campaign has come together through the insights and hard work of a large and creative group of people. It is important to remember that all of that creative energy generated was only the beginning – gearing us all up to go out of the gate with a strong and unified campaign designed to amplify the many voices of advocates everywhere. With that foundation underneath us, just imagine where it can go from here!

Learn more about the campaign at: www.ArtsEdNow.org

Social Impact Studios is a creative hub for promoting important social issues and proud Creative Partner of the Arts Ed Now campaign in NJ.


BLOG: Arts Ed Now: Ambassadors and Trailblazers, Let Us Hear Your Voice!

Since last September, when many of New Jersey’s devoted arts education leaders were introduced to the Arts Ed Now campaign, arts advocates have been abuzz. When the Arts Ed Now campaign launches next month, it will mark the official start of a multi-year effort to increase participation in arts education throughout New Jersey. The New Jersey Arts Education Partnership (NJAEP) has heard from many that the campaign message is a timely one. You may recognize the rally cry—Active creative learning is good for all students and good for New Jersey. Let’s do more!

And with the official campaign launch scheduled during National Arts in Education Week (September 11-17, 2016), Arts Ed Now is ready to flourish.

We have seen organizations download the colorful logo to include on their website, on billboards, and printed promotional materials; we have watched students display Arts Ed Now stickers on everything from backpacks, to cellphones, to instrument cases; we have watched the Arts Ed Now banner travel to events across the state. And this is just the beginning. This month NJAEP’s newsletter, The Beat, features a selection of action items that you or your organization can take to mark the official launch of the campaign. Another highlight of the August issue—an insightful interview with Michele Russo, President and CEO of Young Audiences New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania.

In order for the campaign to truly thrive, we also need to hear from YOU directly. NJAEP hopes to engage with every Arts Ed Now Ambassador, in order to reflect the collective voice of our field. We want to hear plans for Arts Ed Now launch week, and updates as you actively champion arts education. Are there places or programs in your community or organization that will shine especially bright during Arts in Education Week? We are eager to know, so we can share your work with others! And, finally, please tell us what might help you to become an even stronger Ambassador for arts education in New Jersey. It’s an exciting time, as many #ArtsEdNow trailblazers stand and lead the way forward, step-by-step.






BLOG: “Seasons of Love” an Art and Music Mural Project by Alison Wallace

A few years ago, I found myself in a new situation as an art educator. After seven years of teaching high school art, I was embarking upon a new adventure: middle school. Here I was, several years into my career, learning the nuances of both a new school district as well as a new age group… not to mention new courses to teach. In addition to sixth, seventh, and eighth grade general art classes, my predecessor had begun a Mural Arts class at Marlboro Middle School.

That first year, I quite literally fell into teaching this course. The students and the mural themes had been chosen prior to my employment. Rough drafts of designs had been sketched. The murals were designed around inspirational words, and that year’s words were Imagine and Reach. Throughout the year, we learned painting techniques, designed our murals, and painted our hearts out. Serendipitously, the choir teacher that year had chosen John Lennon’s Imagine to sing at our school’s 8th grade graduation. My principal came to me with a fabulous idea. Because the murals were on canvas, they could be easily transported. What if the Imagine mural was displayed at graduation? Would I be okay with that? Of course, I loved the idea.

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Imagine, Acrylic on Canvas, 12’ x 4’, 2013

Having the mural correspond to the song our choir teacher chose was, in all honesty, a happy accident. It was great to have our students recognized at graduation as well as visually support the 8th grade graduation choir. The graduation performance gained new meaning for both our choir and art students. This experience got me thinking … what if we had actually planned this? How could we have merged both our music and art programs to create a cohesive artistic display at our 8th grade graduation? How might this impact the students’ perceptions of both the mural as well as their graduation performance?

This year proved the perfect time for us to try this out. I had a supportive administration and a music department open to brainstorming possible collaborations with me. We began with a discussion of possible songs. I gave the possible song choices to my mural arts students and we chose Seasons of Love from the Broadway musical Rent by Jonathan Larson.

We are a 1:1 Chromebook district, so students from both the Mural Arts Class and 8th Grade Choir Classes used their Chromebooks to aid in the creative process. First, students searched images and saved those they felt related to the song. Next, they shared these images with me through Google Docs.   The live documents enabled student and teacher collaboration in many ways. Most importantly, choir students who I did not see in class were still able to contribute and discuss ideas with me. After many ideas were compiled, Mural students were asked to complete the task of finalizing a design. I wanted them to contemplate the following questions, all inspired by the song and this cooperative task: What is friendship? What does it mean to celebrate your friends and focus on the good things in your life? What are some images that the song invokes? How can you “measure your life in love?” How can you celebrate your friendships, from simple experiences together to meaningful ones? And lastly, how can we successfully merge all of these ideas to create one cohesive and unified piece of art?

It was decided that each panel would visually represent one of the four seasons. The technical work of creating the mural was done by mural art students.


The mural in progress.

Groups met two days per week for approximately 50 minute classes. This entire process took about three months to complete. This was the culminating project of the Mural Arts class, who had all been working on the technical skills needed for large scale painting since the beginning of the school year.


The completed mural. Acrylic on Canvas, 12’ x 4’, 2016.

Although transporting and hanging the completed mural at graduation took a little skill and planning on the part of our administration and custodial staff, it was hung prior to the ceremony directly next to the graduation chorus.


The mural on display at graduation and next to our 8th Grade Graduation Chorus.

This collaboration proved meaningful to all students. Choir students, even those not directly involved in the design, were more motivated to perform knowing that the mural students were creating a painting inspired by their performance. Mural art students were inspired knowing that their painting would proudly hang next to the choir as they sang the words of its inspiration. All students involved exhibited higher order thinking skills as they found deeper meaning and imagery in a song’s lyrics.

Through the creation of the mural as well as our choir’s performance, we quite literally brought art and music together. Students raised their voices and their paintbrushes, making connections both in and out of the classroom.

Alison Wallace is an art educator with experience teaching K-12 art in several districts and private settings. Currently she is an art teacher at Marlboro Middle School where she teaches General Art and an admissions-based Mural Art class to select 8th grade students. In addition, she works with the school’s special needs population and integrates art education with social skills instruction. During the summer, she is both the assistant director and creative arts specialist at HI-STEP, a therapeutic summer program for children with special needs.

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April 8, 2017
The Beat: NJAEP’s Newsletter – April 2017

The Voice of Arts Education in NJ: Keeping you up to date in our field...