Bradley Beach Elementary School – accepted by Sarah Poppe Seeley
Young Audiences Arts for Learning NJ & Eastern, PA — AE Residency Champion Award
Sarah Poppe Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Bradley Beach Elementary School “It is my honor to accept the AIE Residency Champion Award on behalf of the Bradley Beach Elementary School District. With the help of AIE, our teachers in Bradley Beach have been able to provide our students with authentic education in arts through a number of projects. Students and teachers have been inspired and empowered by the work we have done through our collaboration with extremely talented working artists. We are grateful to the AIE for helping us establish a strong arts culture in our school, one which we are dedicated to growing and continuing.”
Bradley Beach Elementary School is a small, pre – k to eighth-grade district on the Jersey Shore. Although Bradley Beach is known primarily as a beach town, it is also home to a substantial number of immigrants and low-income residents. More than 50 percent of the district’s 300 students are Hispanic, and about 70 percent of all students qualify for a free or reduced-cost lunch. The district serves as an oasis of inclusion, where students of different races, backgrounds, and incomes belong to the same extended family — from preschool to eighth grade and beyond. Thanks to an innovative art teacher, Jennifer DiZefalo, Bradley Beach became involved with the AIE grant program in 2013. Since then, the school has hosted six arts residencies, including ceramics, spoken word poetry, graphic novels, photography, and Latin dance. Staff across content areas have worked with teaching artists on dream projects that have transformed the school’s arts culture and touched the community in myriad ways. Some highlights include an annual school and community bowl-making project, which has raised thousands of dollars for the local food pantry, and last year’s “Porch Fest,” when porches around town became gallery space that featured students’ beautiful and intimate photographs of “ordinary, extraordinary” members of the community. Bradley Beach Elementary School is honored to receive this recognition, but mostly we are grateful for the support and guidance of the AIE and its teaching artists who have allowed us to bring the world of art to our students.