SCHOOL ARTS TO GET INSTRUCTOR BOOST

Count Basie CEO Adam Philipson and director of education Yvonne Lamb Scudiery meet the press on Tuesday. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Red Bank’s youngest students can expect an extra-dose of performance-art based teaching in their upcoming curriculum, thanks in part to the hometown Count Basie Theatre and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.

Borough schools Superintendent Laura Morana was joined by new Basie CEO Adam Philipson and director of education Yvonne Lamb Scudiery during her monthly press meeting at middle school Tuesday to help detail the Kennedy Center’s upcoming workshops for teachers, designed to help them understand the importance of performing arts as a part of overall education.

The district was one of only 11 in the nation to be chosen in 2012 to participate in the Kennedy Center’s Partners in Education program, and is only the third from New Jersey to be selected since its inception in 1976. According to a press release provided by Count Basie, the school’s partner in the project, the district was selected for its “demonstrated commitment to the improvement of education in and around the arts,” due in large part to its continued partnership with the theater’s extensive educational programs.

According to Morana, the program will help teachers learn and eventually implement arts-based professional development programs and teaching methods over a three-year period, beginning with kindergarten and pre-k, then moving up sequentially through the grades.

The eventual goal of the program is to create an approach to teaching that connects the art form to all subjects, including science, language arts, mathematics and social studies.

“One of our main goals is to promote creative thinking,” said Philipson, who came to the Basie from a managing director position at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center in Valencia California in November, succeeding Numa Saisselin.

Another is “to provide an education that will help facilitate 21st-century problem-solving,” he said. “By using arts integration, we can demonstrate physics using swing dancing, for example, or dissect social situations using theater. The possibilities are endless.”

“I used to think the arts only facilitated the soul,” said Scudiery, “but what it also does for the brain, especially the developing brain, is incredible. Implementation of the arts can aid memory, multi-sensory development, and also emotional intelligence.”

Morana said she supports the program because she feels it enhances the overall learning experience, and also complements the arts-based curricula already in place at the school.

“We already try to promote creativity as much as possible here by providing students and teachers with the tools, supplies, and materials to work on creative endeavors,” Morana said. “With this program, we can integrate strategies from professionals to add a viable piece of curriculum to our schools. We hope, through programs like this, we can maximize Count Basie’s resources and help facilitate the development of a ‘whole-child’, as I call it.”

The program will begin on January 17, with Kennedy Center teaching artist Lenore Blank Kelner hosting two workshops, “Laying The Foundation” (a basic intro to the Kennedy Center’s definition of arts-integration), and “Bringing Literature to Life,” both intended for pre-K and kindergarten teachers.