Testimonial #7: Thomas Guglielmo, Professional Clown for Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus

How has your life beenindelibly touched by a teacher who utilized the arts for whatever reason andacknowledge how they were instrumental in breaking the mold to allow you tobecome who you are today?

A teacher that touched mylife. . . Mrs. Fran McGarry along with Dr. Stephen C. Porter were instrumentalin imparting confidence, direction, motivation, and meaning through theirknowledge, dedication, and practice of teaching through the Arts. They weredirectly responsible for my decision to pursue my dream and achieve thedistinction of becoming the youngest person accepted to the prestigious Ringling Clown Collegeand subsequently become the youngest clown to perform for the Greatest Show onEarth. A decade of achievement in the entertainment industry is directly aresult of the patience, dedication, and caring of teachers such as these. Mylife continues today and the lessons learned carry over into every area of mylife.

Testimonial #6: Irene Sole

How has your life been indeliblytouched by a teacher who utilized the arts for whatever reason and acknowledgehow they were instrumental in breaking the mold to allow you to become who youare today?

Dr. Brann Wry,Director of the Performing Arts Administration program at NYU. He brought thereal life challenges that Arts organizations have in the economy and how we, asArts advocates, can meet those challenges with sound business decisions inorder to perpetuate a thriving Arts community.

How are the artsre-igniting your community and sparking innovation and creativity in your localschools?

Frankly, I’dlike to see more emphasis on Arts programming in the local and borough levels.I’d like to see a broad spectrum of neighborhoods involved in local projectssuch as theatrical and musical performances and visual displays of creativeprojects. There are pockets of these projects around the Boroughs but it needsto become more widespread which will enable a wider participation to explorecreativity. The flip side has equal importance by the exposure to Art and tosee the creative experience manifested. Therefore, striving toward theobjective to instill the understanding of the need and importance of Art in ourlives.

Testimonial #5: Rachelle Bradt, RB Learning Environments

How has your life beenindelibly touched by a teacher who utilized the arts for whatever reason andacknowledge how they were instrumental in breaking the mold to allow you tobecome who you are today?

Art was part of everythingwe did in Miss Kieser’s classroom, where I spent a wonderful time from grades 1through 3.  She played the piano and we learned to sing in tune. She was drawing on thechalkboard and we were all drawing in our notebooks. Then some words wereadded, and we started to write. Everybody learned to read and write. The notion that someone might not [readand write], didn’t even occur to us. We had no art teacher, because everyteacher had to know art.

We had a huge sandbox in the classroom in which we put mountains and rivers,houses, people and animals. They all had to be counted; that’s how we learnedmath.

I’ll never forget when she came [to class] with a chocolate bar that had to be divvied upamong all the children in the class. That’s how we learned division.

Art was part of everything we did. And Miss Kieser drew me a fabulous colorpencil study of two shells along with a poem by a famous poet (Eichendorff):

“There is a song that sleeps in all things,
As they linger in their dream.
And the world will start a-singing,
Once you’ll find its magic beam.”

And it did.

How are the artsre-igniting your community and sparking innovation and creativity in your localschools?

“I learned how to be areal artist. I will remember everything we did.I was trying to do my best butit wasn’t easy because I had never done that before, but you showed me.” (Carla,4thgrade student, PS 132, Manhattan)

“I have learned a lot about my students’ interests and needs. The sketchbooks are a wonderful tool for teaching and have encouraged writing immensely.(Juan Paredes, 4th grade teacher, PS 115, Manhattan)

“My students are paying more attention to detail! They have become visualthinkers. They approach my projects with much more confidence and have reallytaken art seriously as a subject. (Integrating art making with reading andwriting ) has changed the way that I teach my students.” (Wiley Nelson, ArtSpecialist, PS 8, Manhattan).

Testimonial #4: Justine Beirne, MA Philosophy Columbia University

A teacher that touched my life…..I have to say, that to choose one is an injustice as the English department of Vernon Township High School was really one of the best, in my opinion, in the entire world. However, if there is one person I remember it is James Walsh, my junior year high school English teacher who pushed me to explore the aesthetic theory used in James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man. He simply kept asking me to point to the place in the text that made me make the conclusions I was making about the literature. To this day, through two Master’s programs, an honor’s thesis, and more than 400 pages of academic writing I hear Mr. Walsh’s voice: “Go back to the text.” He made me feel like a proper academic. But he made me EARN it.

The arts are re-igniting my community by…. Looking at modernism and deconstruction is the only way to live in our new fast-paced global society peacefully. The avante garde, the new, the unusual, the Lady Gaga’s of the world who make us question the way we label an experience with a concept. The arts force us to question our human habit of labeling experiences as good or bad, and extends our empathy to those we otherwise would not understand. They are the only instrument for peace in a post-modern global culture.

Testimonial #3: Donald P. McGarry, Lead Software Systems Engineer for the MITRE Corporation

A teacher that touched my life…..
Arts education provides the opportunity for all walks of students to be able to explore their own strengths and weaknesses in an open and free environment. This type of open learning isn’t found in a traditional classroom setting, which allows students to take on greater challenges and responsibilities that they would be unable to explore in the traditional k-12 setting. These opportunities grow leadership, responsibility, and personal “ownership” organically and allow students of all levels to excel. These skills have aided me in my career as an engineer by giving me early exposure to task leadership, ownership, responsibility, group engagement, and has allowed me to incorporate an artistic component to my work.

The arts are re-igniting my community by….
Providing a needed cultural and social setting for students in the k-12 environment that is needed in education today. Each student in the education system needs to find their “niche” to grow into a responsible adult. Although not every student in a k-12 arts education program will go on to be a professional artist, many students from all walks find their “niche” in theater and arts education programs as an environment to engage with others, a common ground for learning and growing, as well as a social community to “fit in”. As programs such as arts education, music education, theater, and technology programs are cut, this eliminates this sense of community from these students and adds to the existing pool of students who “just don’t fit in”. This hampers their growth as young adults, and does the overall community a dis-service by not allowing them to grow and explore beyond the simple evaluation of “the three R’s”.