Category Archives: NJAEP News

Commendation Presented To Sussex Avenue RENEW School

This past year was the school’s 3rd year with Artists In Education program (AIE), and they’ll be joining us again next year as an AIE school. Each year, the school has worked with teaching artist Kit Sailer on three different visual arts projects. This current school year (2016-17), Kit worked closely with the Principal, Darleen Gearhart, and the art teacher, Nelson Alvarez, on a project that was created by the 6th and 8th grade students. The students created a mosaic mural using glass tiles. The inspiration for the design came from music. Principal Gearhart arranged for rap artist President Philson to join the residency for a brief period. During his time with the students, President Philson led the students through exercises where each student wrote their own rap lyrics. These lyrics were then used as the inspiration for the design that the students created with Kit. The entire project was overseen and supported by the school’s AIE Partner, Jackie Knox, from Young Audiences NJ & Eastern PA.

On May 25th, the school held their annual Family Art Day, where the mosaic was unveiled. It is located on the school’s playground, and the students, staff, and community are thrilled about the students’ work. Earlier this year, AIE reached out to Assemblywoman Blonnie R. Watson, who represents the community where Sussex Aveneue RENEW School is located (in Newark). We reached out to let her know about the grant the school received and their work with arts education. Assemblywoman Watson recently presented the school with a commendation (attached), and we couldn’t be more proud that the school is getting this much-deserved recognition. Sussex Avenue RENEW School truly understands and celebrates the importance of arts education, and we are proud to be working with them again next year. AIE is extremely grateful to the NJ State Council on the Arts and Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania for their support of the AIE program.

Michelle Baxter-Schaffer, Artists in Education Administrator
Artists in Education Program


New Voices: Trenton Central High School’s Dance Department Showcase

On Friday, June 9, 2017, Trenton Central High School’s Dance Department hosted their sixth dance showcase, New Voices. The Dance Department is part of the Visual and Performing Arts Academy, one of four career-aligned academies under the umbrella of Trenton Central High School. The evening featured performances by students in the Boys Dance Too Ensemble, the Dance I classes, and Choreographer’s Workshop, showcasing a range of experience from students who performed for the first time to those wishing to professionalize. Throughout the evening the celebration of student voice was the unifying factor. All of the pieces presented were either collaboratively choreographed between students and dance educator, Elizabeth Rose Zwierzynski, or completely student conceived, choreographed, and directed.


The six student-choreographed works were the culminating project of the Choreographer’s Workshop class. The pieces ranged from exploring themes of identity, depression, cultural celebration, relationship building, dystopian society, and an exploration of movement qualities. Throughout the semester the students worked up to this project by exploring different improvisation scores and stimulus to inspire movement generation, applying conventional choreographic devices, structures, and forms, and creating proposals for their works including a project description, artistic statement, resume, and biography. After the students proposed their works, they collaboratively split their classmates as cast members and directed student rehearsals for the remainder of the semester. The curricular scope at TCHS presents a gradual release model that informs, nurtures, hones, and presents student voices. As TCHS Principal, Hope Grant, reflected in her closing announcement at the showcase, “This is a program that allows the students to become the teachers, and the teacher to become the facilitator”.

In its third year, the TCHS Dance Department has demonstrated growth in curricular development, student recognition, and community partnerships. This year marks the program’s first professionalization of two dancers who are choosing to study dance at the collegiate level. We are also proud to announce 2017 graduate, Jose Lapaz-Rodriguez, was named the Dance Recipient for the NJ 2017 State Showcase Scholarship. Community partnerships were strengthened in and outside of the classroom. During the fall, all male modern dance company, 10 Hairy Legs, was in residence with the Dance Performance Skills students.   Additionally, Trenton is one of the Kennedy Center’s partner sites for Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child.

The program assists communities in developing and implementing a plan for expanded arts education in their schools, ensuring access and equity for all students through the model of collective impact. As dance continues to develop in Trenton, I would be remiss if I did not thank the leadership for supporting the vision for a strong dance education. Many thanks are in order to Vice Principal of the Visual and Performing Arts Academy, Melissa Wyatt, Principal of Trenton Central High School, Hope Grant, and Supervisor of Fine & Performing Arts, Norberto Diaz. As we gear up for next year, I am wishing all NJ arts educators and arts partners a restful summer.


Elizabeth Rose Zwierzynski B.F.A., Ed.M

Dance Educator

Visual & Performing Arts Academy

Trenton Central High School




Highlights from 2017 New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival & Scholarships

The New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival commenced the 2nd year of its return and revival at Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ on May 31st, June 1st and 2nd. Thousands of students, teachers, parents and arts advocates from across New Jersey gathered at Ocean County College for the three day state-wide showcase and celebration the accomplishments in arts education by educators and their pupils. This educational and community driven event would not be possible without the generous support of the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, New Jersey Education Association, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the New Jersey State Council of the Arts.

The New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival is the statewide culminating celebration of the arts dedicated to inspiring New Jersey teen artists, educators, professional artists and arts advocates from all across the state to unite as one grand and all-inclusive community. The New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival strives to connect Teen Artists across the state to inspire collaborations amongst the young creative minds to invest in the pursuit of artistic professions and New Jersey Artist Network. Students and Educators from 16 different counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Salem, Somerset, Sussex and Union. Festival attendees partook in the Showcase-Adjudication process, Professional Development for teachers, the College Fair, Professional Guest Artist Performances and Master Class Workshops for students.

There were a number of Master Class Workshops offered for students such as Behind the Puppet Stage which introduced students and educators to the diverse and multifaceted art form of Puppetry, taught by Bart P. Roccoberton, Jr., Director of the world renowned Puppet Arts Program at the University of Connecticut. Some additional Master Class Workshops offered were Hip-Hop Dance taught by NYC Choreographer, Doug Elkins, Charcoal Portraits taught by Atlantic City based artist, Luz Sanchez and Ceramics: Empty Bowls Raising Hunger Awareness taught by sculptor and activist artist Mil Wexler. The bowls created by the New Jersey Teen Artists in Mil Wexler’s ceramics workshop will be donated to raise money for those in need at an event hosted by Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen in Toms River, NJ later in the Fall.

The New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival, in addition, honored the 2017 Arts Educator of the Year, Valerie Y. Synder-Grollman, who was honored on June 2nd at a ceremony for her dedication to her students and arts departments in North Brunswick Township High School. Selected Students as well were recognized by the State Festival for their artistic accomplishments in the form of nine individual State Showcase Scholarships, who are as follows: Jose Lapaz-Rodriguez for Dance, Isaiah Petit Compere for Theatre, Tyler Sacko for Instrumental Music, Olivia Youngman for Vocal Music , Kaite Nguyen for Filmmaking, Rebecca Oldham for Creative Writing, Sarah Vargas for 2D Visual Arts, Maria Lu for 3D Visual Arts, Carolyn Galgano for Photography.

The New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival will return again in the spring of 2018. please follow the State Festival on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat & YouTube: @NJTEENARTS and visit www.njteenarts.com to stay up to date with all things NJ Teen Arts!

2017 State Showcase Scholarship Recipients! Check them out!

Congratulations to all!

And thank you to Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation for supporting the 2017 State Showcase Scholarships!

The 2017 State Showcase Recipients:

Rebecca Oldham
Cedar Creek High School
Atlantic County

Jose Lapaz-Rodriguez
Trenton Central High School
Mercer County

Kaite Nguyen
Ocean Township High School
Monmouth County

Tyler Sacko
Toms River High School East
Ocean County

Carolyn Galgano
Sparta High School
Sussex County

Isaiah Petit Compere
Ewing High School
Mercer County

Maria Lu
Bridgewater Raritan High School
Somerset County

Sarah Vargas
Bergen County Academies
Bergen County

Olivia Youngman
Point Pleasant Borough High School
Ocean County

Harrison H. Haney

NJ State Teen Arts Coordinator

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!



The Beat E-Newsletter: June 2017

Hard to believe that it is June and another school year is coming to an end.
What is the NJAEP doing this summer? Well – the short answer is A LOT!
This summer we will be busy planning for September. Much is happening in September and we want to share a few of those things.
September brings:
  • The release of the third New Jersey Arts Education Census Report
  • Arts in Education Week from September 10-16
  • New Visual and Performing Arts Standards from the NJDOE
  • Results of a new Eagleton Poll with statewide public opinion on issues regarding arts education.
  • The ARTS ED NOW campaign growing in scope and impact
The month culminates on September 28 with the second Arts Ed Now Summit. The brilliant Sir Ken Robinson, described by Fast Company magazine, as one of “the world’s elite thinkers on creativity and innovation” is the keynote speaker. Certainly a day not to be missed.
And you can join the fun. Throughout the summer we will be providing ideas and tools for you to take advantage of all the information and be active in your own school or organization during Arts Education Week. The Summer is the perfect time to plan for how we can work together to elevate the place of arts education in our schools.
More to come on all of these fronts. Stay tuned.
All of us at the Partnership wish you a wonderful, restful, refl

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

The Beat E-Newsletter: May 2017

May is the month of Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day and Memorial Day but it is also the month of the Governor’s Awards in Arts Education. This is the event that is the culmination of months of planning and preparation to select the 108 student and adult award recipients from over 15 counties in NJ.

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!!



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!!!

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.



2017 Governor’s Awards in Arts Education – May 24, 2017


The Governor’s Awards in Arts Education began in 1980 to promote awareness and appreciation of the arts, recognizing the creativity, talent and leadership of the award winners. Each year, awards are presented to approximately 20 educators and 80 students. National and statewide organizations select the students for their exemplary work in creative writing, speech, dance, music, theatre and visual arts and the leaders for their exceptional commitment and contribution to arts education. The program also recognizes arts educators and arts education advocates, whose leadership has helped nurture the development of students in the arts across the state.


The Governor’s Awards event is a partnership of the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership, the Department of Education, Art Pride New Jersey Foundation, the Department of State and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Additional support is provided by: the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics; Art Educators of New Jersey; Art Administrators of New Jersey; Dance New Jersey; New Jersey Council of Teachers of English; New Jersey Forensic League; New Jersey Music Educators Association; New Jersey Performing Arts Center; Writer’s Theatre of New Jersey; Speech and Theatre Association of New Jersey; and Young Audiences of New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania. The cooperating organizations, award sponsors and individual members of the planning council dedicate their time to make sure that excellence in the arts is rewarded, and work tirelessly throughout the year to plan this special event. The Governor’s Awards in Arts Education ceremony are a major collaborative effort of the arts, education and state government.

The Beat: NJAEP’s Newsletter – April 2017

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

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June 12, 2017
The Beat E-Newsletter: June 2017

Hard to believe that it is June and another school year is coming to an end...