New Jersey has been my home for almost sixty years. Moving here for my first job in my chosen career, education, I spent thirty years working in the School District of South Orange and Maplewood and ended my tenure there as the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Learning. The elementary schools in that district used Young Audiences’ programs to introduce students to quality experiences in the arts early in their lives. By the time these students reached the high school, the art department, with one of the largest faculties in the school, could not meet the student demand for courses. Both the dance and theatre programs drew the attention of the New York City art world. Clearly quality art programs profoundly touch students.
Upon leaving full time work in public education, I became a consultant in forty-eight of the States and eleven foreign countries. This work focused on curriculum, instruction, assessment and school leadership. During this same time I co-authored a book on school change. It was selected by the largest educational organization as Book of the Year.
When I joined the Board of Young Audiences, I was asked what I hoped to accomplish. My response, in part, was: “I want to help develop a means of validly and reliably assessing the degree to which the [organization’s] vision is being achieved.” That work was accomplished recently when the Board adopted a comprehensive policy insuring such a means.
On a more personal level, visual arts, dance, music, and theatre are all central to the joy my husband and I have in our lives. They regularly cause us to reflect on the human condition and the humanity we all share.
I am humbled by this award. In my mind it comes as recognition for my unwavering commitment to the arts in New Jersey and the role the arts play in the intellectual and social enrichment of every young person in the State. Our future resides with these young people. We are indebted to the vision and quality of our teaching artists, the art organizations in the State and our Governor who work to insure life is better for these students as adults and through them a better world for all of us. This is clearly illuminated by the staff, teaching roster and leadership of Young Audiences of New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania. I love them.