Category Archives: Conference

2014 VSA Intersections: Arts and Special Education Conference

Dena Malarek, Arts Horizons Director of NYC Residencies and Special Populations had the opportunity to participate in the 2014 VSA Intersections: Arts and Special Education Conference, A Jean Kennedy Smith Arts and Disability Program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  The conference brings together a national and international community of educators, administrators, researchers, teaching artists and more interested in improving the arts learning experience for students with disabilities.  936047_10152646670999529_90178300510660177_n

               Attendees utilized the Guidebook app to stay connected to the most current conference materials, personalize your own schedule, obtain contact cards with other attendees and participate in social media (#vsaintersections ) directly in the guidebook app.      The pre-conference workshops and conference workshops were offered along various tracks including: Drama/Theater, Dance, Visual Arts, Music, Research, and Across Art Disciplines.   A rich wealth of information was captured in the conference – below are two notable workshops on arts and special education.

Digital Art At the Intersection of Arts and Special Ed

An exciting presentation, by the Barber National Institute explored the use of iBooks and other digital art technology to create social stories for students with Autism and intellectual disabilities.  This project was a natural integration of digital arts educators, school psychologists, and special educators to develop indivualized social stories for their students.    Social stories help a child with autism navigate a situation, where to direct attention and what to expect.  The use of integrating digital arts for social stories is a high priority need for students with disabilities, utilizes evidence based practice (social stories and video self-modeling based on Bandura’s theory on Observational Learning,  is a direct translation into digial media. 

Students with Disabilities and the Core Arts Standards: Guiding Principles for Teachers, Sharon M. Malley, Ed. D.

“The Core Arts Standards are designed to guide US schools’ arts curriculum, instruction, and assessment (NCCAS, n. d.). Standards writers included a review team of arts and special education professionals, led by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, ensuring that each standard encompasses a broad range of communication and learning styles.” The guiding inclusion standards for students with disabilities are included as an addendum, or separate guidebook  directly on the national core arts standards information page.  It’s function mainly is to use inclusive language and make general overarching guidelines for arts instruction for students with disabilities. 

  1. Maintain high expectations
  2. Promote communicative competence
  3. Use the principles of Universal Design for Learning
  4. Know how to select and use appropriate accommodations for individual students
  5. Make use of evidence-based practices
  6. Target instruction and use formative indicators of student performance

For More Information, please contact Dena Malarek, Director of NYC Programs and Special Populations


NYU Educational Theatre Forum 2014

NYU Educational Theatre Forum 2014: Forum on The Teaching Artist  April 25-27, 2014

Arts Horizons is committed to the professional development and training of our roster of teaching artists. To that end, we recently sponsored the attendance of solo performer, writer, and teaching artist Angela Kariotis to NYU’s professional development conference, “Forum on the Teaching Artist.” Angela is currently the artist-in-residence for the New Jersey State Council on the Arts’ Artists-in-Education Residency Grant Program. She is working with high school students at Rosa Parks School of Fine and Performing Arts in Paterson, NJ and at St.Anthony’s in Jersey City, NJ to develop original creative writing. For each residency, Angela keeps a detailed blog that documents her creative process, student work, and teacher resources.

Angela shares her insights from her vibrant learning experience at The Forum on the Teaching Artist: 


Angela at NYU’s Teaching Artist Conference.

Many arts education conferences can be summed up with ‘We need more arts education.’ There won’t be anyone in the audience who would contend against that declarative. This particular conference was different. The focus was on the teaching artist and best practices in the classroom/workspace. This was a practical conference and the two workshops that I took really stood out. The first helped me learn about what diversity in the class can mean and the second helped me learn about the need for training for all artists in creating a safe space.

There are specific exercises and lesson plans that we participated in that we could tailor to our own tool box. These were generative art exercises. This was refreshing. Also though I learned to frame a conversation I’ve been having with myself in articulate ways.       For example, In the Everyone has a Voice Workshop we identified what Diversity in the Classroom could mean:

  • Family structure
  • Learning styles (visual, kinetic, audio)
  • Sensory needs
  • English language Learners
  • Economic
  • Ethnic
  • Behavioral mixes
  • Experience
  • Age

We asked ourselves, ‘How can we modify a lesson to fit different diverse populations?‘ I think the most important point is acknowledging and identifying the diversity in the classroom. The idea also breaks open the meaning of diversity and the implication of our work. The next phase of the workshop delivered clear strategies for addressing diversity and a take-away lesson plan.

The next stand-out workshop was presented by practitioners from The Moth. The Moth is a performance troupe with a season schedule and a Story Slam. The point is to tell YOUR own TRUE story. And that’s what this workshop was about: using storytelling as a teaching tool. Bringing storytelling into the classroom is also a means of generating material and devising content for the theater. This is what I do anyway. As a performance artist all my stories are true. I bring that ethos into the classroom. Here are some goals from this workshop–

  • How can you use your own stories as a teaching tool?
  • How can the elements/arc of a story inform the lesson plan?
  • How can generative art apply to my discipline?

What struck me is how different this might seem to folks; how out of the ordinary. It made me pause and reflect on the need to create context and space for this practice. Also, the workshop helped identify a necessary step–for the facilitator and teacher to share their very true stories too. I don’t ask students to do anything I haven’t done myself. For a teaching artist, that seems easy. But in this workshop we see why it’s powerful for teachers to share their own stories, practice storytelling.  Another important point in any workshop about true stories is creating a safe space. The difficulty in grappling with the nuance on HOW to create a safe space was clear when the Moth facilitator acknowledged, “There should be a safe space in the room when it comes to this kind of storytelling but I don’t pretend to know how to do that. I don’t know exactly how to create that safe space.” This conversation reminds me of working with artist/facilitator Sharon Bridgforth and her methodology of creating safe space for work. I now believe all teaching artists should be trained in knowing how to create a safe space in their classroom. I wouldn’t have been able to articulate that very important point before this conference experience.






Arts Horizons at Face To Face 2014

Arts Horizons was excited to attend the 2014 NYC Arts In Education Roundtables’ Face to Face Conference 2014.   Set in the beautiful backdrop of The City College of New York’s, Shepard hall, the program presented a robust array of quality sessions for all stakeholders in the arts-in-education community.   The day and the issues of arts education were broadcasted in live time through a constant social media connection on twitter, facebook and more further spreading the voice in the power of the arts.

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The engaged presence of key NYC educational and political figures fueled a very hopeful climate for the NYC arts community.  Just a month after Schools’ Chancellor Carmen Fariña’s breakfast with the Arts community, she delivered the keynote address to the 500 persons registered at Face to Face.  Farina energetically makes the case for theater programs in all middle schools for students to have the opportunity to envision and create what they can become.  She advocates for the arts to have a key role in the new social studies curriculum; the role of the arts and illustrations in book publishing in schools; the roll of the arts in our Community and Technical schools.  Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President followed Chancellor Farina with live energy for support of the arts and a plea to involve our communities school leadership teams and community boards.


With the recent release from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office, he pledged to establish a 4 year goal to make sure every child receives arts education required by state law.  ( ( Doug Israel, Director of Research and Policy with the Center for Arts Education discussed the recent release of the report released April 7th by NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer. This report provides a first-ever school-by-school breakdown of the state of arts education in the public schools, and overlays that information against the data on the city’s economic landscape. – See more at:


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Arts Horizons is energized to be part of this vibrant community to share, learn and advance the community of arts-in-education in NYC.  For more information contact Dena Malarek,

Arts Breakfast with School Chancellor Carmen Fariña

Elizabeth Halverstam, Arts Horizons Executive Director, and Dena Malarek, Director of NYC Residencies and Special Populations, were pleased to attend an open breakfast with NYC DOE Schools’ Chancellor Carmen Fariña. The event was held on the morning of March 4th in the Peter Jay Sharp Room of the New York Historical Society for a conversation about the importance our City’s cultural institutions and arts organizations to public education. As a member of the NYC arts-in-education community, Arts Horizons is excited to see the personal commitment of the new chancellor to provide arts experiences rich with culture, opportunity and learning for the youth, educators and families of NYC.


Public Advocate Letitia James and Dr. Sharon Dunn, Vice President for Education at the New-York Historical Society introduced the newly appointed chancellor to a room of Museum Educators, Public Educators, and Arts Organizations. In Dr. Dunn’s years of service with the DOE, Ms. Farina is the first to request and meet with the faces of cultural arts in the city on the agenda of the arts. Ms. Farina spoke heartedly of her commitment to the arts while professing an embarrassment that we are the only county to know so little about our own art history. Meanwhile, NYC institutions hold the ability for students to travel and gain experiential background.


Chancellor Fariña announced Middle School students as a targeted priority, stating research of 7th grade retention affecting a student’s graduation rate: 9th and 10th grade are too late. She wants to direct priority back to American History using cultural institutions to provide experiential learning in addition to text book learning. Her proposal to organize Teen Thursdays would open up the doors of museum and cultural institutions from 4:00 – 6:00 pm on Thursdays for students to access learning and culture. Further using cultural institutions for teacher professional development allows teachers to build content area expertise. A proposed reintroduction of the ‘Culture Pass’ for principals and administrators will allow free access to cultural institutions, instilling personal interests to translate for their students and constituents. Inclusion families will be a priority, making special note that we must make the invitation and experience accessible by offering programs in various languages.


Chancellor Fariña promoted the expansion of after school programs under Mayor Bill de Blasio and declared that the arts will be listed as one of the required elements. The RFP’s for afterschool are being developed. She spoke energetically about the role of the arts to support common core curriculum, art literacy and wants to see more technology related to the arts.


For more information contact Dena Malarek, Director of NYC Programs and Special Populations at Arts Horizons

Crash Glass Workshops for You and Your Students

Artist Teacher Institute (aTi) alums and David Brearley Middle/High School teachers Janice Marsili and Cindy Perez conducted a Crash Glass Professional Development Workshop at AENJ’s October 4th Conference in New Brunswick, NJ. “Cindy and I really enjoyed working with all of the teachers,” said Marsili.

The crash glass frames started at David Brearley last year after the school welcomed Jackie Stack Lagakos as a visiting artist  which sparked funding for their 68′ mosaic wall project. “It was very tough for the kids and us to master the technique in just two afternoon sessions,” said Marsili. The first frames produced were not good enough to sell but “the process got easier and a core group of students emerged who just loved doing it,” Marsili added. Once the students mastered the frame making process, the business class divided into “apprentice-like” teams to market and sell the frames. Over 300 frames were sold for $15 each!

The frames have become very popular among New Jersey artist, teachers and their students. To learn more about bringing this crash glass project to your school, contact:

for Artist-in-Residence Workshops in New York
Dena Malarek, Director of  Special Populations and NYC Programs
(212) 268 – 7219 ext.108
for Artist-in-Residence Workshops in New Jersey
Michele Renaud, Manager of NJ Programs/ Artist Teacher Institute

(201) 567 – 1766 ext. 114

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Pictures from the AENJ Professional Development Workshop

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