Education is a driving force in the Algonquin Arts Theatres' (AAT) mission, and the Education Department, which is inextricably intertwined with the Artistic Department, engages thousands of children and youth in arts experiences every season. While Education programs run roughly parallel to the artistic season, the Education Schedule is divided into trimesters: the Summer Session, the Fall-Winter Session and the Winter-Spring Session.
Educational programming at AAT falls into three broad categories: 1.Curriculum-based programming; 2. Extra-curricular programming; 3. Internship/Apprenticeship programming.
1. Curriculum-Based Programming
Each year, the theatre brings valuable educational programs, diverse performances and artist-lead workshops to more than 15,000 children, ages 3 to 18, from approximately 230 schools throughout Monmouth, Ocean and surrounding counties. Performances and workshops through AAT are targeted to specific age groups and, as a result, AAT is able to reach children of all ages and stages of artistic development. Algonquin also reaches approximately 115 home-schooled children every year.
Each year, the Education Series delivers 20-25 student matinee performances of plays, comprised of adaptations of curricular books, stories of historical significance and accessible presentations about diverse topics. An additional 30 in-school curricular workshops are offered to participating schools to prepare students for attendance of the theatre and to encourage full comprehension of the subject matter. Books are provided and lesson plans are designed to assist educators in meeting New Jersey's core curriculum standards, to enhance students' understanding of the characters and themes of performances and provide lessons of cultural awareness and tolerance. Artist-led workshops help teachers, through theatre games and improvisation, to engage their students in discussion groups and activities.
A direct corollary to the Education Series, Page & Stage is a free-of-charge literacy program for at-risk students between 3-5 years old, launched in Asbury Park during the 2007-2008 school year. The comprehensive program includes in-school workshops coordinated with each participating classroom, preparing students for the experience of live performance and encouraging deeper comprehension of characters, story lines and themes. Following each performance, participants are given a free copy of the book on which the play was based. Page and Stage introduces children to the arts at an early age and inspires them to explore literary themes on a different level. The program also helps children build a personal library of classic books. Five districts are currently served by this program: Asbury Park, Howell, Neptune, Freehold and Red Bank, with AAT expanding the program to one additional Abbott school district each year. Participating teachers have indicated that after participating in the Page and Stage program, their students demonstrate an increased interest in reading and literacy.
AAT is a registered provider of professional development through the New Jersey Department of Education (Provider #2871) encouraging teachers to expand instructional methodologies through the utilization of the arts. Through education series workshop programming, teachers are provided with the knowledge and resources to incorporate creative drama, art, and music into classrooms, both as a support to curriculum and as stand-alone lessons. Utilizing AAT study guides and educational resources as a jumping-off point, AAT teaching artists lead educators through a series of exercises designed to inspire creative ways to build the arts into daily lesson planning. Participating teachers receive a certificate indicating the number of qualifying hours, and to acknowledge their assistance in expanding the influence of art and music education in Monmouth & Ocean Counties.
Learn how to implement creative dramatics, art, and music into your classroom. A teaching artist will customize a workshop appropriate to your class and school. Enhance your classes' theater-going experience and your students love of reading. Explore role-playing and character development and look forward to a creating an outlet for starting an enrichment or Drama program. Customized workshops are also developed based on social issues. All workshops meet NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards. You pick the topic; we'll provide the lesson!
2. Extra-Curricular Programming
AAT offers a wide range of after-school and summer arts-based instruction led by teaching artists from a wide variety of arts disciplines. Students are encouraged to explore acting, singing, instrumental music, filmmaking, dance, design and other creative areas. Classes are offered in the summer, fall-winter and winter-spring sessions. The Performing Arts Academy includes an enrollment of more than 200 students during the school year and more than 300 during the Summer Session.
Another discrete Summer arts education program, the Algonquin Jazz Ensemble is an audition-only instrumental music study intensive, providing students with the opportunity to explore the vast and diverse world of jazz. The audition process will select up to twenty-one 6th-12th grade students to join the ensemble, which includes intensive instruction through an affordable tuition based three-week Summer course. This program offers opportunity for student musicians to be exposed to all areas of Jazz repertoire, encourage the practice through the summer, a week-long intensive instructional program culminating with a standard-setting public performance by professional jazz artists.
Algonquin Youth Ensemble
The Algonquin Youth Ensemble (AYE) is an audition-only, comprehensive instructional, full immersion theatre program. Transcending the typical theatre program, AYE members not only have the opportunity to study theatrical disciplines with experienced professionals, but then must apply what they've learned in a fully mounted main stage production. In addition to studying acting, singing and dancing, members work side-by-side with professional directors, designers, actors and musicians through a full 3-week rehearsal schedule and a two-week performance run of a major musical production. Open to students age 10-18, participants commit not only to daily/weekly classes, but also to all rehearsals and performances, often participating in production and administrative activities as well. In addition to main stage productions, AYE also mounts smaller, ensemble-only productions which are still directed, designed and accompanied by professionals, but feature only ensemble members in all acting roles.
Although many schools and organizations express an interest in providing arts-based programs to interested students, limited resources and lack of expertise often prevent these programs from being realized. A component of the Performing Arts Academy, the Drama Residency Program assists committed organizations in developing onsite curricular and extracurricular arts programs at schools, community centers and other venues. Working in partnership with schools and other organizations, AAT teaching artists and administrators work collaboratively to tailor a program that serves the needs of the specific constituency, insuring the long-term sustainability of the program. For example, after four years of collaboration with Asbury Park High School in providing a much needed after-school drama program, AAT successfully laid the foundation for APHS to hire a full-time Theatre and Dance instructor. APHS also now offers Theatre and Dance as electives in their curriculum. AAT is also delivering programs onsite at the Boys and Girls Club of Monmouth County and other community-based venues in Monmouth and Ocean County.
Free-of-charge and open to all students ages 12-17 years, Teen Night was established in response to the alarming trend of teen suicide in the Southern Monmouth County region. Teen Night instructors create an inclusive, non-judgmental and supportive atmosphere in which students can participate in theatre games and explore the fundamentals of improvisation and performance in a safe and comfortable environment. Participants also attend main stage presentations as a group, often using core themes and related social issues as an inspiration for improvisational work. With a strong focus on ensemble, Teen Night brings together a diverse group of participants, united by their interest in the arts.
Now in its 18th year, Rising Stars invites young classical musicians throughout New Jersey to audition for the opportunity to perform on the main stage at AAT. High-school age classical instrumentalists and vocalists from across the state are eligible to submit an audition CD for consideration by a 12-member panel of highly qualified, established classical music professionals. Up to 12 finalists are selected to be a part of the Rising Star showcase event during which finalists perform in two free of charge, open to the public performances and attend an honorary luncheon with a special guest mentor who provides feedback on individual presentations and offers professional advice to the young artists. A long-established and highly respected showcase, participants gain valuable exposure to schools, organizations and individuals that offer scholarships to young artists that plan on continuing their studies at the collegiate level.
For students seeking practical experience in the fields of art and arts administration, AAT offers a wide variety of internship opportunities in all areas of production and administration. Interested students at the high school and college level are invited to submit a short proposal, detailing area of interest and the timeframe to which they are able commit. AAT staff collaborate to tailor an internship experience that provides students with hands-on experience in one or more areas. AAT works with students and schools who have internship hour requirements, helping interns to achieve their educational and professional goals while contributing to the success of the theatre.
An AAT programming area poised for explosive growth is outreach programming. Current outreach efforts feature free-of-charge tickets to targeted audiences and scholarship/tuition underwriting for deserving students experiencing financial barriers to participation in AAT programs. More than 20 scholarships are distributed each season, each valued at approximately $300, with more than $25,000 worth of performance tickets distributed to local schools, senior centers, churches and other community centers. These efforts really concentrate on removing barriers to theatre attendance, and while they create greater access for constituents, the development of offsite programming, including workshops and performances, is expanding the geographical reach of the theatre in a way that comp tickets simply cannot.
The Education Series, Page and Stage and the Drama Residency Program all provide offsite activities to schools and organizations that are participating in student matinee programming. Using a similar model of hands-on education programming, AAT is taking a series of arts-based workshops to organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs of Monmouth County to provide arts participation opportunities for children and youth facing financial or geographical barriers to participating. While the current model generally involves a one-time workshop experience with a teaching artist, the availability of additional resource may allow for the development of longer-term, outcome-oriented programs in a number of offsite venues.
"On the Road" is a musical performance piece, often including excerpts from the Broadway Series titles contained in the season, that travels to senior centers and nursing homes throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Originally envisioned as something of a marketing vehicle, it quickly became apparent that many of the program constituents would never visit the theatre due to health issues. However, it was also clear that these events were deeply meaningful to those unable to travel and often constituted the sole contact that some patients had with the outside world. The program has existed on an ad-hoc, voluntary basis for several years, administered by a combination of education, artistic and development staff. During the 2016-2017 season, AAT will be moving toward formalizing the structure and staffing of the program and adding it as a component to outreach programming.
AAT has long-standing relationships with many charitable and service-oriented organizations with which the organization collaborates to serve the region, including Monmouth Cares, Asbury Park Technical School of Dance, PreventionFirst, Prevention of Teen Suicide, the Red Cross, the Samaritan Center, The Boys and Girls Clubs, the Elks and the Ocean Harbor House.
For more information about Algonquin Arts Theatres Education Programming, please contact the Education Department at 732.528.9224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Algonquin Arts Theatre would like to thank the following funders for supporting Arts Education: