Category Archives: NJAEP News

Arts Ed NJ’s THE BEAT. August 2018

Arts Ed NJ is proud to present the August BEAT, a feature of New Jersey’s preeminent arts education happenings. From the NJSDL to summer professional development, this month’s beat offers a proper send-off to the final weeks of Arts Ed Summer.

Partner Spotlight: New Jersey Speech & Debate League


While high schoolers change sports across seasons, those who compete with the New Jersey Speech & Debate League are three-season speakers. From September to June, the NJSDL presides over twelve local competitions and offers students the chance to compete at prestigious national tournaments, including the National Speech & Debate Tournament and the National Catholic Forensic League Grand National Tournament. In many ways, the New Jersey’s league is unique for its incredibly tight-knit community. Across the United States, most leagues cover only a certain city or state district, yet the single, unified New Jersey League brings competitors together irrespective of school with pride to compete singularly for New Jersey.

The NJSDL season has two phases: development season and championship season. From September to February, students compete both locally and nationally at major college campuses including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Nova Southeastern with the aim to develop their pieces and presence for the later season. By March, the schedule spaces out with leveled championships. The State Championship, held at Hunterdon Central, hosts about 300 competitors, and winners in the fifteen varsity categories also win a Governor’s Award in Arts Education. Students then set their sights nationally, as they attend the District Championships to qualify to the National Tournaments, the Tournament of Champions, and the National Tournaments.

Despite its size, New Jersey’s league is incredibly dominant, arguably ranking in the top seven leagues across the United States. At each National Tournament, New Jersey had at least one finalist, a competitor who reached the top six out of hundreds in their category, each of whom had qualified out of even larger districts. Still, the largest accomplishment of the NJSDL’s 2017-2018 season came at the National Speech & Debate Tournament held by the National Speech & Debate Association, or NSDA. The competition, recognized as the largest academic tournament in the United States, hosts over 3,000 competitors from almost every state and U.S. territory.

To qualify for the NSDA National Tournament is regarded as one of the highest possible honors in competitive speech & debate, but to reach the finals or even win is a lifelong dream for leagues. New Jersey, in its time-honored tradition, achieved that dream with three competitors. Before they could reach the final round, these competitors spoke in thirteen preliminary and elimination rounds. Competitive pools of roughly 220 to 300 students, the best speakers & debaters from across America, were whittled down to a mere six. In Commentary, Kevin Mao of Montville High School placed third as just a sophomore. His final topic was to analyze the Tet Offensive, its significance and history. In United States Extemporaneous Speaking, Christopher Maximos from Delbarton School placed third for the second time. Christopher discussed President Trump’s influence on the GOP in the midterm elections in front of nearly 3,000 audience members. Finally, Kimberly Lee, a previous NJGAAE winner, rose to the top as the National Champion in Dramatic Interpretation. Kim’s performed the narrative of an adopted Korean soldier who explored her biological mother’s history as a World War II comfort woman.

At the core of each of these competitors success was the incredible support and coaching of the New Jersey Speech & Debate League. NJSDL’s District Chair, Mary Gormley of Montville High School, was recognized as the National Educator of the Year for Speech & Debate. Martin Page of Delbarton School was recognized with his first diamond, an honor that recognizes five years of coaching and merit points, which correspond to his students’ success. The New Jersey Speech & Debate League values its culture of collaboration, encouraging renowned coaches to partner with smaller programs, as to mentor them and their competitors. This mixture of distinguished leadership with a focus on partnership has provided the New Jersey Speech & Debate League with a storied legacy. As the League welcomes promising programs and competitors, it seems its future is even brighter than its past.

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

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

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

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


Written By: Christopher Maximos

Arts Education Series: Transforming Schools Through the Power of the Arts

2018 FALL Arts Ed NJ / FEA ArtsEd Series – Click Here For More Information

Arts Ed NJ’s THE BEAT. July 2018

This summer, Arts Ed Advocates all over the NJ are gearing up to launch “Arts in Education Week” Sept 9-15 (and throughout September) Share what you are planning for Sept’s Arts in Education Week! – Use these Hashtags! #LetsDoMore #ArtsEdNow #ArtsEdSummer  #SeptReady @ www.artsednow.org

New Jersey Arts Integration Think and Do Workbook

The New Jersey Arts Integration Think and Do Workbook was created by New Jersey arts integration practitioners to provide their colleagues with tools and strategies to support the development of a robust arts integration practice. We harvested best practices from thought-leaders championing the arts integration movement across the state and nationally. It is a work in progress. We plan to test these materials and keep adding new content, so we invite you to share your feedback and favorite tools and become a part of the growing arts integration learning community.

Arts Integration Workbook 2018


Arts Ed Summer 2018

This summer, arts ed advocates all over the state are gearing up to launch “Arts in Education Week” Sept 9-15 (and throughout September)

Arts Ed NJ’s THE BEAT. June 2018

Ahhh June. The end of the school year. The exhilaration of completion.
The anticipation of summer to unwind, rejuvenate and plan for the next year!
In this issue we do the same. We are exhilarated by the very successful 2018 Governor’s Awards for Arts Education and the State Teen Arts Festival.
We unwind as we celebrate a new $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the ARTS ED NOW campaign for the 2018-2019 school year.
And we plan during ARTS ED SUMMER 2018 so we may all utilize Arts in Education week in September to continue to raise the bar for arts education across our state.
But before you join us in any of these activities… please use the link below to email your state legislative representatives to support increased funding for arts and cultural funding in our state.
By working together now and planning for the future we can make 2018-2019 the best year for arts education in New Jersey’s history!

Arts Ed NJ’s THE BEAT. May 2018

On Saturday April 28, 2018 the Star Ledger ran my guest editorial titled “The arts are as vital as math. Educators shouldn’t have to defend it.” This is part of the Arts Ed Now campaign efforts to increase visibility for arts education across the state. The same day our partner NJTV screened their documentary “I Can’t… I have Rehearsal” as part of the Montclair Film Festival.
We want to encourage everyone to use both the editorial and documentary as important tools in spreading the word about the importance of arts education for everyone.
Be sure to post, share (in newsletters and other materials) and disseminate to other advocates, parents, administrators and others who can make a difference for arts education in your communities.


Few Active in Promoting Arts Education in Schools and Communities

WARREN, N.J. – Most Monmouth and Ocean County citizens believe arts education is important for students, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll in partnership with Arts Ed NJ for the Arts Ed Now campaign and the mindALIGNED initiative. Nine in 10 Monmouth and Ocean County residents say that receiving an education in the arts – which includes lessons in dance, music, theater, visual arts, media arts, and other forms of creativity – is “very” or “somewhat” important in the classroom (90 percent), through before or after school programs (90 percent), and through cultural organizations in their community (87 percent).

Likewise, half or more of residents believe arts education is just as important as a whole range of other subjects, including English language arts (59 percent), science (54 percent), social studies (59 percent), health and physical education (53 percent), math (49 percent) and world languages (49 percent); a plurality feel this way when arts education is compared to computer science (43 percent) and career and life skills classes (38 percent).

Furthermore, Monmouth and Ocean County residents believe that arts education can help students “a lot” in becoming more creative and imaginative (87 percent), building confidence (81 percent), improving communication skills (74 percent), becoming more tolerant of other cultures (66 percent), developing discipline and perseverance (67 percent), improving overall academic performance (56 percent), or gaining workforce readiness and career skills (52 percent).

Yet while Monmouth and Ocean County residents largely agree that arts education is an essential part of learning, they are somewhat mixed on how well it is being taught. When asked to grade how they feel public schools in their area are doing in terms of providing arts education, 16 percent of residents award an “A” letter grade, 32 percent a “B,” and 26 percent a “C.” This is slightly lower than the average grade residents assign to other core subjects like math (28 percent “A’s”), English (26 percent “A’s”), science (33 percent “A’s”), and social studies (19 percent give “A’s”), as well as computer science (22 percent “A’s”), world language (22 percent “A’s”) and physical education (24 percent “A’s”). Only life skills classes (11 percent “A’s”) receive worse grades than the arts from Monmouth and Ocean County residents.

Monmouth and Ocean County residents are also mixed on whether students have enough opportunities to participate in arts education in the classroom during the school day (22 percent “strongly agree” that they do, 32 percent “somewhat agree”), through before or after school programs (24 percent “strongly agree,” 38 percent “somewhat agree”), or through community organizations (16 percent “strongly agree,” 34 percent “somewhat agree”).

A plurality of Monmouth and Ocean County residents (39 percent) believe their local public school district does not spend enough on arts education; 36 percent believe their local district spends the right amount, and just 4 percent believe their district spends too much. When it comes to the arts, in general, almost all residents believe they should be funded by government in some form – whether by local government (14 percent), state government (17 percent), or both (61 percent).

Despite considerable support for the arts, sizable numbers don’t participate in activities that help to promote and increase arts education. More than half have not taken a child to a program or event (55 percent), donated or raised money (66 percent), volunteered (68 percent), or shared something on social media related to the arts (57 percent) in their local schools or communities within the past year. Almost half have not discussed arts programs or events with others (45 percent), nearly four in 10 (37 percent) have not attended an arts program or event themselves, and over a third (37 percent) have not encouraged a child to participate in an arts program or event. One in five residents have not done any of these activities.

Moreover, nearly half of respondents have not spoken about arts education in any way – whether with teachers, school administrators and elected officials, or in public meetings or on social media.

“This survey confirms what we have long suspected,” stated Robert Morrison, co-director of Arts Ed NJ. “While there is almost universal support for arts education in our schools, the public does not believe there is enough emphasis on, or resources to support, these programs. As the state transitions to focusing on a ‘well-rounded education’ as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act, this is an important moment for districts across the state in general, and Monmouth and Ocean Counties in particular to examine their arts education programs and look for ways to improve opportunities for all.”

One program extolling the virtues of arts-rich schools and communities is mindALIGNED, an effort spearheaded by the nonprofit Count Basie Theatre, in partnership with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, OceanFirst Foundation, Monmouth University, county freeholders and arts councils and the Monmouth County Department of Education.

mindALIGNED’s innovative approach provides schools with professional development, program materials, follow-through and data to support its mission of creative learning and teaching. By 2030, the mindALIGNED goal is for every school district and community in Monmouth and Ocean counties to be designated as arts-rich.

“People value the arts and understand its importance,” says Adam Philipson, President and CEO, Count Basie Theatre. “But as the data supports they may shy from taking that extra step of participating — and this exactly what mindALIGNED strives to improve. Our goal is making the classrooms more creative and the arts more accessible and prevalent in Monmouth and Ocean counties.”

Results are from an oversample of a statewide poll, which included 200 adults from Monmouth and Ocean Counties, contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Aug. 24-28, 2017. The sample has a margin of error of +/-8.1 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

About Arts Ed NJ

Arts Ed NJ is the unified voice for arts education in New Jersey. Formerly the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership, Arts Ed NJ was founded in 2007 by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, New Jersey Department of Education and Music for All Foundation with additional support from the ArtPride New Jersey Foundation. The mission of Arts Ed NJ is to provide a unified voice for a diverse group of constituents who agree on the educational benefits and impact of the arts, specifically the contribution they make to student achievement and a civilized, sustainable society. Additional information is available at www.artsednj.org.

About mindALIGNED

mindALIGNED is a creative learning initiative which provides arts-based professional development strategies to Monmouth and Ocean County teachers. mindALIGNED’s mission is noble: a reinvigoration of learning, greater engagement and test scores, and a brighter classroom experience for teachers, students and parents alike. By 2030, the goal is for every school district and community in Monmouth and Ocean counties to become mindALIGNED and designated as arts-rich.

mindALIGNED is a collective impact initiative spearheaded by the nonprofit Count Basie Theatre in partnership with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, OceanFirst Foundation, Monmouth University, Arts Ed NJ, county freeholders and arts councils and the Monmouth County Department of Education. mindALIGNED’s arts partners include the Algonquin Arts Theater, the Garden State Philharmonic, Lakehouse Music Academy, Two River Theater and Young Audiences For Learning. For more information, visit www.mind-aligned.org

About Arts Ed Now

Arts Ed Now is a statewide campaign to increase active participation in arts education in all schools in New Jersey. Studies show that students who participate in arts education do better in school and in life. Unfortunately, not all NJ students have the access or information to increase their participation in arts education. The Arts Ed Now campaign identifies ways to increase participation in arts education and garner public support to put a spotlight on the issue – and is designed to be customized at a local grassroots level for more impact. The “Campaign Central” website www.ArtsEdNow.org features stories, tools and ways for citizens to become better ambassadors – together. This project is supported in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Geraldine R Dodge Foundation, Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visitwww.arts.gov.


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August 14, 2018
Arts Ed NJ’s THE BEAT. August 2018

Arts Ed NJ is proud to present the August BEAT, a feature of New JerseyR...