May 22, 2020-- As part of the Title IV Elementary Arts Integration grant, several schools-- Pine Beach, Washington Street, and East Dover to be specific-- have paired an arts instructor with a content area instructor and a building supervisor to develop an arts-integrated interdisciplinary unit of instruction. These educators were also trained through the NJPSA/FEA Arts Integration Leadership Program, which is in partnership with the NJARTSED and Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

Earlier this year, led by Supervisor Catherine Mellon, fifth graders at Pine Beach began composing music on ukeleles to tie together the structure and content of literary and musical works. Since going remote, students have begun exploring the digital tool Soundtrap to compose their music to complete their projects. The project has since progressed to a Culturally Responsive Arts Education (CREA) initiative.

Through CREA, PBE and EDE teachers are reading Gloria Ladson-Billings’ landmark book The Dreamkeepers. The PBE and ED teams participated in an overview presentation about CRAE May 15 from Yolanda Sealy-Ruiz and a “fireside chat” with the author Ladson-Billings, who is also recognized as a Culturally Relevant Pedagogy Pioneer. Next week, the team will participate in follow-up discussions about applying lessons learned from the book to their teaching practices with arts integration teams from around the state.

"These learning experiences promote equity and are a powerful tool to achieve culturally relevant-sustaining goals," said Mellon.

At Washington Street Elementary, third-grade students have been learning about Native American music, comparing modern and traditional Native American music and performing their own composition with instruments they've made. Led by Supervisor Rachel Cicala, students are using the program to understand the importance of musical instruments in communication within Native American culture.

At East Dover, kindergarten students in Jackie Lomer's class worked together with EDE art teacher Julie Heise to teach children about the patriotic symbols of the United States, their origins, meaning, and place in U.S. history. Students became immersed in drawing, painting, and writing about the principles, values and beliefs that make the country what it is today.

Students used their artistic inspirations to create quilt squares that will eventually be made into a Freedom Quilt.

“The completion of the quilt was scheduled to be a celebration event with patriotic songs sung by students and a mini art show that displayed student artwork and writing,” said East Dover Supervisor JoAnn Nocera. “Unfortunately, that can’t happen, but the project was nevertheless a huge success. So many of our students are reading at or above grade level, and projects like this serve to prove how integrating the arts is essential to education.”


Lady Liberty

An East Dover student's Statue of Liberty artwork

Dream Keepers