Category Archives: Featured

ArtsEdNow Q & A with Acting Commissioner of Education Kimberley Harrington

1. What role did arts education play in your own education?
The arts played a large role in my education and in my personal development. I began playing the flute in 3rd grade band and continue to play to present day. In 8th grade, I joined the marching band and played piccolo for one year. Then my band director sent me to leadership camp and I served the next 4 years as the drum major of the marching band. As a drum major, I learned life-long lessons about myself, the structure, sense of community, and leadership skills. Additionally, I danced for 16 years – tap and ballet. Dancing served as an excellent stress release for me and I enjoyed the creativity I experienced through the interaction of music and movement. Finally, when I was performing in our school musicals I found a community “family” similar to the one I found in the marching band. I developed the discipline required to budget my time well to balance late night rehearsals while maintaining my grades.

2. Was there an arts educator who had an influence on you? If so, please tell us about him or her.
Mr. Robert Bauknight was my band director. He was the man who, other than my parents, first saw my leadership potential and he fostered it until I began to see my own potential. He had a thick southern drawl, a wonderful sense of humor, and we adored him. He was always available for us, not just in our band period or at after school practices. He was always a wonderful listener and guided us to search for answers to our own problems. Mr. Bauknight remained a huge part of my life until he passed away while I was in college. I still hear his voice and refer to his pearls of wisdom I keep tucked away. I always say he was the wind beneath my wings and he quietly guided me to recognize strengths and talents within myself I didn’t realize I had.

3. What role does arts education play with your own family/children?
Growing up, my father played the piano and sang. I would fall asleep at night listening to him play and sing. I have many fond memories of music and dance in my household. My father also took professional dance lessons in Manhattan for much of his life. We were always dancing, singing, and listening to music throughout the house. My mother affectionately termed herself “the audience” and she would sit and listen to my sister and I play with my father (my sister played the clarinet.) Mom would join in the dancing and she and my father are wonderful dancers.

My youngest son plays trumpet, violin, marimbas, and just recently added the ukulele to his list. My eldest son played the marimbas and did Irish step dance. He also enjoys photography. Both boys are/were in the marching band. Music, for all of us, is our therapy and “go-to” activity. Thankfully, my sons have both had the privilege of having their own “Mr. Bauknight” in their lives and have been inspired and guided by excellent music educators.

4. What is your view on the role of arts education for our students and how may your experiences have shaped your viewpoint once you became an educational leader?
My own experiences as a child and student definitely had a huge impact on me as a teacher. For example, when teaching Kindergarten, I began each day with singing and dancing with my students and ended each year with a musical put on by the children for their parents. When I taught the middle school grades, I ran the drama club and always did a musical with my children and asked students to design and create the sets, costume, and makeup. Throughout my career as an in-district educator, I always incorporated the arts into my classroom in a variety of ways, encouraged and my students as they experimented in their interest areas to find their own passions, and supported my students by attending their performances, recitals, and shows.

My view of arts education is multi-faceted. I believe the arts provide rich experiences for students to find and express their inner creativity; learn critical life skills – self-discipline, time management, leadership skills, poise, presentation, etc; find ways to relax, release stress, and explore their feelings through art expression; and most critically, find their voice and use this voice to speak loudly and powerfully on behalf of oneself or on behalf of others who may not have found their voice.

5. As Acting Commission, what is your view on how arts education may play a greater role in the educational development of our students?
I believe the arts are a way to bring content to students in a way that may be intimidating for some. For example, mathematics and science are critical skills for students to have a firm foundation before they graduate from high school. Many of our students are afraid of these content areas and don’t identify as having strengths in mathematics and/or science. How many adults have been heard saying “I’m not a math person” or “I was never good at math”? The arts are rich in science and mathematics – imagine introducing the two content areas through context by leading students through composing a song. Composition requires you bring the mathematics behind beats per measure, timing, length and duration of notes and combines it with the science of sound. My father, who taught mathematics and music, was responsible for showing me how the arts have the power to connect content for students in dynamic ways.


Kimberley Harrington
Acting Commissioner
New Jersey Department of Education

100 Eleventh Grade Students from the Academy for Fine Arts and Academics at Bayonne High School have the Experience of a Lifetime at Hamilton on Broadway!

On Wednesday, February 15th, 2017, one hundred eleventh grade students in the Academy for Fine Arts and Academics (AfA2) at Bayonne High School were treated to an immersive full day experience at the Richard Rodgers Theater – home of the record-breaking, smash-hit musical Hamilton – in New York City. Thanks to the efforts of AfA2 teachers Lori Alexander and Jessica Mintz, Bayonne High School was selected as a recipient of the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History and Rockefeller Foundation Hamilton Education Grant Program.

Through the Hamilton Education Grant Program, selected eleventh grade high school students and their teachers receive a rich, interdisciplinary curriculum that connects the Founding Era to the performance art of Hamilton. Funding from the grant provides schools with tickets for the musical Hamilton for the incredible price of $10 per ticket!

Interdisciplinary Learning Activities in Preparation for the Trip:

Through the Hamilton Education Grant Program, high school students have the opportunity to participate in a rich, interdisciplinary learning experience that culminates in the creation of an original performance piece inspired by the Founding Era. History teachers James Murphy, Keri Toomey, Neil Carroll and Jessica Mintz worked with Musical Theater teacher Lori Alexander to present a three day lesson using curriculum and materials provided by the Gilder Lehrman Institute. Students explored the Founding Era in depth, using primary source documents to research Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and additional founding fathers, as well as other important historical figures like Elizabeth Schuyler, King George III, John Lawrence, and Aaron Burr. Students then worked individually or in pairs to write original performance pieces, including poems, raps, monologues, and dramatic scenes.

One student piece was selected to be shared with the Gilder Lehrman Institute as a representation of the student’s hard work. This piece was written and performed by Abigail Isaac and Kermena Abdallah, and is a poem about the life of Elizabeth Schuyler, the wife of Alexander Hamilton. Abigail and Kermena were chosen to perform their original piece on stage at the Richard Rodgers Theater for over 1,500 students and staff from all participating schools! The girls were treated to backstage entrance to the theater through the Stage Door, and a personal meeting with cast & crew members of Hamilton!

An excerpt from the original poem by Abigail and Kermena reads:

“Elizabeth Schuyler, in 1780, became a wife
However, when in 1804 she was bereft of her husband, she began a new life
From her father’s house she had learned to believe,
That through being a woman of fortitude, anything she could achieve
And in regarding this as true, she would succeed until her last day.
Elizabeth Schuyler, in 1780, became a wife
In the eve of her life, taking Alexander’s advice
She served God above all
Becoming an “object” of “veneration” for all who would recall
Her loyalty and her truth that persisted until her death on a Thursday.”
Written and performed by Abigail Isaac and Kermena Abdallah
The Full Day Experience:
On Wednesday, February 15th, the one hundred students, accompanied by faculty chaperones, traveled to the Richard Rodgers Theater in New York City for a full day experience along with other participating schools from New York City and New Jersey. Following the performances of the selected student pieces, all schools participated in a Q&A session with broadway cast members from Hamilton, in which two questions submitted by Bayonne High School students were selected to be asked to the cast!

Students enjoyed a pizza lunch at the famous John’s Pizzeria in Midtown, where they had the opportunity to meet broadway actor Joey Sorge (currently performing in A Bronx Tale), and Gregory Treco (current cast member of Hamilton), and then returned to the Richard Rodgers Theater to enjoy orchestra-section seating for a matinee performance of Hamilton!

Recognition & Thanks:

The participating Bayonne High School students and chaperones paid for their tickets and lunch costs, however funding for the busses to and from New York City was generously provided by the Bayonne Education Foundation and the Bayonne High School Drama Society Parent’s Association.
Dan Ward, Director of History for the Bayonne Public Schools, said of the experience: “Hamilton was amazing but more importantly the EduHam program transformed some of our students’ lives yesterday – so look out world because the next Lin Manuel Miranda is coming for you and she’s from Bayonne!”

Laura Craig, Supervisor of Special Programs and Coordinator of the Academy for Fine Arts and Academics stated, “This experience would not have been possible without the efforts of teachers Lori Alexander and Jessica Mintz. In addition to completing the grant application for their students, Ms. Alexander and Ms. Mintz oversaw the curriculum, preparations, and details of the grant program and field trip with enthusiasm and expertise, providing our students with a truly once in a lifetime experience that they will never forget”.

To see more pictures and videos from the day, including a video of Abigail and Kermena’s onstage performance, follow @bhsafa2 on Twitter or like The Academy for Fine Arts and Academics at Bayonne High School on Facebook.


Musical Theater Teacher Lori Alexander, 11th Grade AfA2 Students Abigail Isaac and Kermena Abdallah, Honors American History Teacher Jessica Mintz

Students await the start of the show, including Brielle Calianese, John Dugan, and Kacpar Danilowicz.

Abigail Isaac and Kermena Abdalla perform on the broadway stage at the Richard Rodgers Theater

Faculty chaperones (from left) Brendan Wahlers, Kelli McGovern, Lori Alexander, Laura Craig, Jessica Mintz, Kathy Bingham, James Murphy, Neil Carroll, Dan Ward, and Keri Toomey (front).

Laura Craig
Supervisor of Special Programs
Coordinator, Academy for Fine Arts and Academics
Bayonne Board of Education
(201) 437-5095

The Beat: NJAEP’s Newsletter – February 2017

February is the month of love at the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership. And this issue of The Beat focuses on teachers we love. Those are the teachers who bring learning to life and make us want to explore and grow. Those are the teachers we never forget.

I remember my third grade teacher, Miss Crown. She created a yearlong immersion program with a third grade class in New Zealand. We exchanged letters, artwork, tape recordings of songs and poems. We learned about the life of the students so very far away and they learned about our lives in New Jersey. Miss Crown taught us about the country and its history, culture and geography. We all became friends and the world seemed to be a much smaller place. I ran to school each day to see if there was a letter or package from our close friends a world away.

Miss Crown was a wonderful teacher and while I have not been to New Zealand, I know someday I will travel to that beautiful country. How could I not, I still feel a connection all these years later.

And because it is the month of Valentine’s Day, my story ends with Miss Crown announcing that at the end of the school year she would leave us to move to Wellington to marry the teacher of our New Zealand classmates.

Dance for Social Consciousness & Honoring the Holocaust Through Dance – “IDENTITY”

Claudine Ranieri, Dance Educator at Paramus High School in New Jersey creates units of study for her dance students each year called Dance for Democracy & Social Consciousness. She has created dances where the dancers become the story tellers about our history as well as honor and pay homage to individuals who have made a significant difference in our society. These themes have included Mala Yousafazi and female oppression, Nelson Mandela and Dr. Martin Luther King, Civil Rights and Racism.

Each of these dances included imagery as well as parts of speeches within the music to have a multisensory, multimedia experience. These units use 21st Century skills, where students through dance are collaborating, communicating, creating and applying critical thinking skills including making emotional and social connection the past and present.

This year I created a unit of study for my Dance Honors students focusing on the Holocaust. I utilized many resources to assist in my development of curricula; such as New Jersey Commission of Holocaust Education, resources both from the Holocaust Museums in New York and Washington , connecting to NJCCCS and 21st Century skills. Together with my students we created inspirational box with artifacts about the Holocaust, newspaper articles, quotes, pictures, objects and journals entries to aide as inspiration.

My own inspiration has came from the book “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” A Collection of Children’s Drawings and Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp including Anne Frank’s Diary and researching the stories of survivors and Up standers like Sir Nicholas Winton who saved approximately 669 mostly Jewish children. I chose the poem “I Am a Jew “by Franta Bass that was transformed into a piece of music by Composer, Ruth Fazal’s, who was also inspired by the book of poetry and created Oratorio Terezin. As an educator and choreographer it is my mission to share the power of dance and through this piece of choreography “Identity”.

We wanted to honor the Holocaust as well as educate and serve as beckons of light for humanity just like the children of Terezin’s poetry and artwork that was found that shared their daily misery as well as their courage and optimism, their fears and hope. We recently previewed “Identity” at both middle schools. One of my dance students shared with tears in her eyes shared “Thank you Mrs. Ranieri, you truly honored the Holocaust, I can’t wait for my family to see it.”

Currently the Dance Honor students have selected individual topics that they wanted to use to created piece of choreography to raise social consciousness about. Again they created inspiration boxes for their topics that helped creation their own original pieces of choreography.

The students created dances about Bullying, Inequality, 9/11, Adversity, Depression and Body Image . They have evolved into three solos, one duette and two pieces that have evolved into small group works that the students selected they wanted to learn. We are looking forward to performing all of these dances at our annual Power of Dance Concert- Imagine, on June 1st for our school and community.

A special thank you Mr. Lawrence Glacer, Executive Director of State of New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education, Barbara Kondratowicz History Teacher at PHS who shared her educational journey to the concentration camps in Poland as well as her own grandmothers’ story who is a living survivor of the Holocaust and Cristen Pennello, Dance Educator who shared a lesson using an excerpt from Twalya Tharp’s book, where Tharp’s explains how she uses inspiration boxes for each of pieces of choreography in which I will now always use Inspiration Boxes to aide in all choreography projects.


Claudine Ranieri
Dance Educator
Paramus High School


#1Line1World with Jennifer Braverman

I have the honor of teaching middle school, high school and college in the same day in the New Jersey public school system. I start my day at Maple Shade High School with a middle school art cycle class engaging students in grades 7 and 8 in exciting art projects as I transition into five high school classes ranging from Digital Mixed Media to Advanced Drawing and Painting and AP Studio art. I advise numerous clubs and organizations and drive to The College of New Jersey once a week to teach a course WGS 220 Gender and Pop Culture. My dual degrees in Art Education and Women and Gender Studies offer me a comprehensive understanding of how to reach the most marginalized students and through art and activism have our voices heard. I was fortunate to be honored as the 2016-2017 Burlington County Teacher of the Year and the 2017 Educator of the Year for the Maple Shade/Moorestown Masonic lodge. I am also the state Sexual Orientation and Gender identity (SOGI) representative for my county and I am an active artist who frequently exhibits work in group and solo shows. It’s imperative to practice what we preach as educators, lead by example and share our passions.

This leads to a project I am very proud to say is engaging all facets of my educational outreach. In November, I read about the new starbucks cup which included an illustration of over 100 people in a continuous line. This artist Shogo Ota inspired art frenzy the next day. While my students worked on their visual art quarterly I set out to draw 100 of them (grades 7-12 and some staff) in one continuous line. I toted a giant roll of white craft paper and drew, drew, drew! Each model was asked their age and if they had a ‘quote to share with the world’? It was a special time in which I was able to individually engage with students, draw them, make them feel connected, important, relevant and valued. I was eager to spread this concept and challenge others to draw 100 people in 1 day in 1 line. This trend flopped, however, after speaking with my AP and advanced drawing students we decided to set the bar even higher and wider. We wanted to draw/inspire others to draw 1 million people in one continuous line. Rules were simple and set: The artist had to draw from a live model, use one continuous line and no repeats! We decided we would number the drawings, post them to social media and digitally combine all 1 million once it takes off! The students helped design a webpage (www.1line1world.com), we traveled locally to draw people in the varying neighborhoods and have made various videos documenting this process.

My students know that ART CONNECTS PEOPLE IN A WAY THAT CAN CHANGE THE WORLD. The mission of #1Line1World is to illustrate continuous contour portraits of one million people; to inspire others to draw people from observation; to bring the world together with one line, one face at a time. Each and every one of us are different and unique in our own way. Regardless of gender, color, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, ANYTHING… we are all a part of the same race – we are all human. With one line connecting us all, it shows that we are all equal despite what separates us.

I have had middle school and high school students drawing often and working toward our 1 million portrait goal. In addition I was able to get students at the College of New Jersey involved as part of their art activism course. It is a community effort starting in New Jersey and hopefully expanding internationally. Please join me and my brilliant students as we seek to unify everyone through one simple line! We need unity now more than ever!

Check out the video

Jennifer Braverman
2015-2016 Burlington County Teacher of the Year

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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Understanding A School Budget By Bob Morrison

Typically, most arts teachers along with other advocates and concerned parents are shocked when they learn that programs in music/arts programs are in jeopardy due to budget cutbacks. Well, they shouldn’t be! Those who are surprised by budget reductions are either unaware of or have not tracked the year-long process that school districts go through to build a budget.

As part of our responsibility as concerned citizens and parents, we need to monitor what is happening. By becoming involved early in the cycle, the budget outcome will never be a surprise. By monitoring the following five step process you may ensure there are no surprises.

Step one in most school districts, is initialed by a top executive, usually the superintendent, or the chief business officer. Under that person’s leadership, district employees assigned to budget development spend much of the year gathering data, selecting from available options, and making recommendations. Their final product is then submitted to the school board. They make amendments ad deemed necessary, and then approve a final budget.

Two documents may be available during this early portion of the five-step budget process. The first would be the “assumption statement” which will set forth key assumptions and formulas to be used in the development of the budget. The second document is a calendar of major steps in their budget process. If the school district doesn’t actually publish a calendar, very likely, the person in change can provide information on the budget timetable.

It needs to be pointed out that during this early part of the budget process, people monitoring the budget process should make it their business to get to know board members, and learn “how they stand on music and arts education.” Also, board members should be invited to attend concerts and other events during the year. They should be introduced at these events and asked to make comments when appropriate. They shouldn’t be strangers.

Step two in the process is the presentation of the budget or summary of its major elements to the school board. Usually, the board receives it only days or a few weeks before it is officially released to the public.

Step three in the process is the publishing and public viewing of the budget. Again, this usually occurs relatively late in the budget process. And, typically, there are only a few weeks to read it, ask questions and propose changes.

Step four begins with public hearings. The school board holds one or more public hearings, soliciting citizen comments on the budget–once it’s gone this far it’s difficult to make changes.

The fifth and final step is budget adoption and funding approval. After the public hearings, the board adopts a budget with whatever amendments it deems necessary.

It takes time and energy to master a local school budget. Before you begin, we suggest that you acquire review online resources to help understand the school budget process. It will help you strategize and minimize wasted efforts.

Note: This article is an adaptation of the work of the late Karl Bruhn, longtime music and arts education advocate

NJ State Teen Arts! UpComing Events

Visit the “Best of the Festival!” Artwork from the 2016 NJ State Teen Arts Festival currently on display at the Middletown Arts Center in Middletown, NJ

The Beat: NJAEP’s Newsletter – Happy Holidays. December 2016


H is for Hope. As we embark on the new year we are hopeful that 2017 will exceed expectations.
A is for the Arts Ed Now campaign
P is for the Pride we feel in the great work that Art Pride does throughout the year.
P is for the Professional Arts Associations who represent thousands of teachers in the various arts disciplines.
Y is for the young people in this state who inspire us everyday and remind us why we are doing this work.

H is for halcyon (just a nice word).
O is for the opportunity to start a new pilot program for 10 schools to use the arts to advance the goals of Title 1.
L is for the launch of ArtsEdNow and with the help of so many the first week reached over 5 million people.
I is for information. The data that we collect through the Census and other surveys, makes our work stronger.
D is for Donors – without the Dodge Foundation, the NJ State Council on the Arts and Americans for the Arts, the work of the NJAEP would not exist.
A is for the Arts. Enough said.
Y is for you, who every day work to create positive change in this State.
S is for the support we give to each other to reach the goal of bringing the arts to all of our students.

Current Newsletter

March 2, 2017
The Beat: NJAEP’s Newsletter – March 2017

March On Through March and Beyond March is Arts Education in Our Schools Mo...