Monthly Archives: August 2011

Your Ideal School: Conceptualize It!

Stuart Nager, creative drama educator and performer writes in his blog about education reform and out struggling school structure. 

 Not everything is broken, and there are many amazing teachers, school admin and school communities. On the flip side,  there are a lot of things that need shoring up, some complete reforms and overhauls, and more investment in monies and support around the country, on all levels.  ALL levels.

There are a variety of reasons that people don’t think arts have any importance in schools. Many do not see it as something to assess (especially drama, which does not always produce a tactile resource for displays, outside of photos or video). There is a gross misconception that the arts have little to no crossover applications to core curricula. The goal of arts in schools is not wasting time, or, as one “teacher” once said to me: “What are you going on about?(Theater)..You are nothing but a prep period to us!”.  That individual’s statement is how I feel many see the arts: it’s wasting time, nothing of any real value.

read more….

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An Open Letter to School Leaders

Eric Sheninger for Huffington post on August 9, 2011

As the calendar turns to August school leaders across the country are meticulously planning for the upcoming year. This process has become more difficult as mounting challenges such as budget cuts and what seems like a relentless attack on the profession of education have taken their toll on staff moral. With this being said, quality leadership becomes even more essential in order to cultivate a school culture whose primary focus is on the learning and achievement of each and every student. Here are some of my leadership strategies for making change during challenging times.

Eric is the principal at New Milford High School located in Bergen County, NJ. He is passionate about establishing and fostering learning environments that are student-centered, collaborative, flexible, and prepare all learners to succeed in the 21st Century. 

Read  ”An Open Letter to School Leaders”. 

John Merrow, education correspondent for Huffington Post,  

An ‘Act of War?’

 The news that Education Secretary Arne Duncan is willing to give waivers to states struggling to meet the demands of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has been greeted with a sigh of relief in lots of places. He calls the law ‘a slow motion train wreck’ while bemoaning the failure of Congress to write a new version of the law, which actually expired in 2007.

Whether the ‘relief’ will be anything more than a Band-Aid remains to be seen, because the Secretary and Domestic Policy Advisor Melody Barnes made it clear that, to get waivers, states will have to meet certain federal expectations regarding charter schools, the evaluation of teachers, and the acceptance of common core standards. The feds are not backing away from intense federal involvement in public education and may in fact be ratcheting up. 

Click here to read more…

Being Better Than You Believe – Philip Berry’s new book

Arts to Grow’s (ATG) Advisory Board member Philip Berry has been advising ATG since January 2010 and has been especially helpful in guiding our development of an effective Board of Directors.

We are very excited to share his last endeavor, a new book titled “Being Better Than You Believe”  highlighted here with a video produced by  MAYA press showcasing a recent workshop featuring techniques from his book. 

Philip Berry, author of Being Better Than You Believe, is President of Philip Berry Associates, a global management consulting, executive coaching and training practice, specializing in leadership training, global talent management, global diversity, innovation, team building, corporate social responsibility, employee relations effectiveness and affirmative action compliance.

Click here to buy a book.

Arts to Grow and Academy Street Firehouse, present African Dance

Arts to Grow and the Academy Street Firehouse invite you to join us for a special student dance performance on Tuesday, August 9th, 2011, from 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm at Academy Street Firehouse Auditorium, 77 Academy Street, Newark, NJ 07102, Show on Google Maps.


For the past 4 years, Arts to Grow has partnered with the Academy Street Firehouse  to offer innovative, high-quality arts programs for the students at the Academy Street Firehouse after-school and summer programs, in both the visual and performing arts. Yahaya Kamate teaches The Art of Playing Together: African Dance for ages 11-13.  The class explores a range of dance fundamentals including rhythm, gesture, balance,  moving in space, breathing ensemble skills and improvising, and teaches the role of dance in different cultures. 

Click here to read more about the show.

As Best Schools Compete for Best Performers, Students May Be Left Behind

Michael Winerip in New York Times 

Mary Otero was not going to make the same mistake with her 11-year-old, Aaliyah, that she had made with her two grown children. They had both gone to Dewey — the neighborhood school, Charles O. Dewey Intermediate School 136 in Brooklyn — and it was all downhill after that.


“A lot of kids at Dewey cut class, hang out on the street,” Ms. Otero said. “Kids get jumped in the park.”

She worried that enrolling her daughter in a low-performing middle school like Dewey would relegate Aaliyah to a low-performing high school and then — well, both her older children had dropped out.

So last year when Aaliyah started fifth grade at Public School 24, Ms. Otero, a freelance graphic artist and a single mother, practically memorized the Education Department’s guide to middle schools. She attended the middle school fair for her district, District 15, and visited schools considered to be among the best.

Read full article here…