Purchase College Performing Arts Center Expands Program Using Theatre Arts to Improve Literacy

Last Thursday, September 13, the Performing Arts Center (PAC) teamed up with the Paideia School 15 in Yonkers, NY to present a workshop for teachers on using theatre arts to improve English Language Arts skills.

The nationally acclaimed Neighborhood Bridges program, originally developed the The Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, Minn., is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a model for arts integration. The program blends theatre arts with English Language Arts to ignite a student’s creativity and connect that passion to paper. It further enhances students’ narrative and descriptive writing and assists in their development of critical literacy.

The PAC piloted the program locally last year, and a fifth grade class at Paideia School 15 was among the participants. A grant awarded by the Frog Rock Foundation makes further expansion for 2012-2013 possible, and additional Paideia School 15 classes will be among the new participants.

“The award of a grant by the Frog Rock Foundation in support of the expansion of the Neighborhood Bridgesprogram is recognition of how arts organizations can realign their arts educational mission to ensure maximum impact in local schools. The Performing Arts Center of Purchase College and Paideia School 15, for instance, have managed a teacher/teaching artist collaboration that is intended to not only integrate performing arts into the school day, but actively impact other areas of the curriculum while doing so,” said Ian Driver, Manager of Education for the PAC.

Paideia School 15 Principal Michael Shapiro concurred. “We are eager to engage more of our classes in this program. Neighborhood Bridges not only helped our students improve their writing skills but also empowered them through increased self-esteem, heightened confidence in public speaking and improved social skills.”

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