Testimonial #9: Chelsea Hoffman

How has your life been indelibly touched by a teacher who utilized the arts for whatever reason and acknowledge how they were instrumental in breaking the mold to allow you to become who you are today?

Photo by the lovely Shannon Davies

My life has been shaped by many teachers, all of whom left an indelible impression on my life. I remember one of my first acting lessons came from sitting in on Dr. McGarry’s class – I couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7 years old. The students, all in High School, were playing an improv game that I was allowed to join in on, and the scene I was given was a driver that was pulled over by a policeman. At that age, I was prone to fits of giggles whenever in the presence of an older and therefore obviously cooler kid (luckily I grew out of it!) and couldn’t stop giggling. Dr. McGarry told me to think about the relationship and the situation – if a policeman pulled me over, would I really giggle? Probably not – I would be terrified! This small but valuable lesson has stuck with me, along with countless others in my time in both public school and then later Drama School at NYU’S Tisch School of the Arts

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

 The Arts are so incrediblyimportant to our children and our schools. I currently live abroad, and peopleare always shocked and jealous when I tell them that I was able to studycontemporary drama, Shakespeare, jazz, electronic music, and audio engineeringall in my public school. Here, if a child wants to pursue ant of those things,it has to be done on their own time.

What many people don’trealize is how applicable skills gained in the arts are to jobs outside theaccepted creative field. Besides the obvious connection between drama andpublic speaking – think how often people are asked to give presentations in ALLwalks of life, and how dull they can be if the person has no sense of audience- the arts teach problem solving, critical thinking, and gives tools on how toengage an audience. These are things that any businessperson would be well offto have in their repertoire. Music has been shown to improve math ability, anddancing is a great way for the kid who may not be into competitive sports tostay fit. To use a terrible clichéd expression, if one thinks outside the boxjust a little one can see that the arts benefit students beyond making themmore cultured and sensitive individuals (traits that should not be overlooked).We are so lucky in our country to have the opportunity and the precedence tooffer education like this – we must take advantage of it.

Photo by the lovelyShannon Davies

Testimonial #8: Theresa Salerno

How has your life been indelibly touched by a teacher who utilized the arts for whatever reason and acknowledge how they were instrumental in breaking the mold to allow you to become who you are today?

The arts, to me, growing up was my savior. Being able to perform and take myself out of my world to be in another was life saving to me. I enjoyed so much all of my school musicals. I also enjoyed the flute, marching at Hofstra with my sax, and my weekly piano lessons. I truly feel without my music and performing I would have never made it. As you read along your notes on a page you are instantly into the magic of the arts.

I also feel that music will heal you. To this day, I am thankful that I was able to enjoy and appreciate the gift of music .With this blog you can make a difference and leave your foot print on this earth to let people know that there is hope. Many kids today don’t have an out. Music and performing must go on!!!! Maybe it will help them to escape from the real world for a little and have fun exploring another.

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).