Category Archives: NJAEP News


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

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

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.

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.

The Beat: NJAEP’s Newsletter – November 2016

November is the month of Thanksgiving, so it is fitting that this issue of The Beat is all about giving thanks.
Included are stories about teachers who inspired and influenced, parents who instilled a love of the arts. Ann Marie Miller’s blog post captures the influence of a special teacher and a parent. In all, we are highlighting mentors who share, teach and open windows to new experiences and learning. It is so important to reflect on those influences and appreciate the lessons learned.
I am thankful for my father who took me to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the first time and started me on my journey.
I am also thankful for the amazing NJ arts community that cares about the importance of the arts in the education of our children and continues to make this state a model of working collaboratively and creating programs that are seen as exemplars for the rest of the country.

2016 School Board Candidate Survey Results


The New Jersey Arts Education Partnership recognizes that understanding candidates’ views on arts education is important to voters. A healthy arts education ecosystem depends on many factors, and support of arts education by school board members represents a critical part of the ecosystem. Their support contributes to the thriving programs, student performances and memorable arts events that shape our communities.

As part of the ArtsEdNow campaign, the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership conducted the 2016 New Jersey School Board Candidate Survey on Arts Education. All 1,900+ candidates for School Board across New Jersey were contacted and invited to share their views about arts education with the voters in their district. Many candidates provided detailed responses to the questions. Some of the candidates vividly described their own experiences with the arts.The survey was conducted as a public service, to help voters make informed decisions.


With the November election just around the corner, please consider passing along this information to others. Help us spread the word!

The Beat: NJAEP’s Newsletter – October 2016

There is a lot to read in this issue of The Beat. Meet the new Teacher of the Year, Argine Safari, learn about the Postcard Project, absorb the details of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and be inspired by local heroes – plus so much more. Get inspired, get active. Happy reading.

Postcards for the Arts: Interview with JoAnn Onnembo

Recently, I received a manila envelope in the mail with forty oversized postcards of beautiful reproductions of student artwork on the front. On the back of the cards were the student’s name, age and a brief statement on why my artwork is important to me. The Arts Ed Now logo anchored the lower portion of the card. JoAnn Onnembo, Art Teacher, Bergen County Academies and President, Arts Educators NJ created this project as the first phase in a three-phase advocacy campaign. I knew I had to sit down with JoAnn to hear more and share this incredible model with others.

KW: Tell me about the postcard project?

JO: Legislators get tons and tons of mail. To get their attention, I thought we should approach it as a postcard – oversized, colorful and easy to read. It might just catch their attention. And that handwritten note from students is an eye catcher. I originally wanted to just do that and then I thought of a three-tiered approach. To take it further, including not only the students but also the parents, who are the voters, and the teachers who encourage the students and are part of the stakeholder group.

I wanted to do a little different approach for the parents – this is my child’s work and this is the difference that art has made in their life. And the teachers approach would be a pre-instruction drawing and a drawing after sustained study and then a drawing after further development and the dramatic changes that take place not just in the skill level but the discipline and awareness of one’s surroundings and other cultures. I feel like it is not just developing skill but reaching the students life in different ways and when you can clearly see the development from pre-instruction to several months to years – it is dramatic. So I thought that we have a visual that speaks more than the words need to say. That was my idea. I thought this would be a great way to engage with the launch of Arts Ed Now.

This fit right into my work with the National Honor Society students who work on a project that promotes or advocates and I thought that this fit right into that theme.

There is no specific timeline but I want to sustain it and see if there is another audience that we should be targeting. I will talk about this at the Art Educators conference to see if other teachers can do this same project. I am leading the charge.

KW: What were the instructions to the students?

JO: I told them to choose their best work or a work that they were proud of. And I explained to them the importance of advocating for the arts. We are fortunate here at Bergen County Academies (BCA) but we are doing this not only to sustain our funding and our support and our personal growth but we are also looking to help those that are less fortunate and for the greater good. It is an effort to educate everybody. Not just those of us that are supporters of the arts. If that means we grab their attention for a second because that legislator liked the image and has that postcard on their desk and someone sees it and starts a conversation then we have achieved our goal because we have opened the eyes of someone new. I told my students it is important to advocate for themselves but it is also important to advocate for others as well. And to sustain BCA’s charter to bring our art to the public and do good with it. The students were all in and were very excited about it. I got images left and right and I got images from all of my students and many wanted to participate.

KW: Tell me about the process.

JO: I instructed the students to make a brief statement. This is my artwork and it is important to me because… I wanted it to be honest – be straight up about it. Speak from a fifteen year old perspective. Make whatever you say a powerful as you can. If it changes your life say it changes your life. If it helps you be open to other cultures say that. It doesn’t have to be an essay. Just say what it is. The statements are authentic and are from the student voice.

So when we move to the parents – the statements might be more powerful. I just introduced this to parents last week and they were very excited to hear about it. I gave them background on what the NJAEP has achieved and the Arts Ed Now movement and they were happy to hear that. I gave them information about Arts Ed Now and encouraged them to go on the website. They are willing to join the postcard campaign. I laid the groundwork and they are saying – just tell us what you need.

KW: What feedback did you get from the students?

JO: The kids were really excited. For one, they see their work on a postcard and the fact that it is going to someone of importance and the fact that it might just make a difference was the thing that excited them. They hoped that their voices might be heard in a way that they were comfortable with – visually. They felt empowered that their image could say something that their voice could not. It was impactful. They asked if they could do it again.

KW: Did you send to legislators in the whole state? And have you heard from any legislators?

JO: We had originally thought of targeting just our legislators but then thought to do the whole state and that is why we only put the student’s first name and age on the postcard. We wanted to send it to everybody. I am Sarah and I am sixteen and I am speaking for all of the students in the state. I would love to see if a Legislator’s curiosity was sparked by this and perhaps they connect with the Arts Ed Now website. That would be confirmation that they looked at it and we got their attention.

With the teachers’ phase, I might reach out to performing arts teachers to see what they can add. It might be a picture of a performance with the progress illustrated of a student not wanting to speak in class to look at them now in a performance. I still need to shape this out by talking to those professionals.

Right now this project is limited to my school but who knows – it may end there or become a model for other people. It may spark other ideas.

KW: What change do you want to see?

 JO: I want to see that the students learn that advocating for the arts is important. They need to be reminded of that. And Legislators that may not have thought about it – stop – and when something is proposed and decisions need to be made they might just think back for a second and remember getting the postcards from the students and think that maybe I should listen to what my colleague has to say about the arts. Awareness, education, response, support all of those things are the goals. I am just trying to do my little part to make people aware and listen. My reward comes from the success of my students.

Thank you JoAnn. You are doing a huge part to make a difference. Let’s hope others take on this project and the State House is filled with beautiful, powerful postcards.

– Kristin Wenger




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!









NEW! Eagleton Poll Shows Statewide Support for Arts Education


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...