June 22, 2010

DCPS to Work in Concert with Blue Ribbon Commission to Plan New Arts Middle School 

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Contact: Jennifer Calloway | (202) 535-1096

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) is proud to announce an important next step in providing comprehensive, quality arts education for more students: A Blue Ribbon Planning Commission has been named to help plan a new, citywide arts middle school for students in grades six through eight. Set to open in fall 2011, this school will provide first-time opportunities in rigorous arts education for students from across the District.

Two years ago, DCPS established a system-wide staffing model that ensures that all children have access to art and music teachers. At the high school level, DCPS students also have the prestigious Duke Ellington School of the Arts. This new arts middle school will be the next crucial component to a strong continuum of arts education in the District, both as an essential partner with Catalyst Arts integration schools launching next year and as a compelling addition to DCPS’s academic offerings.

“We’re honored to have some of the most accomplished artists and arts education leaders in the city and the nation join DCPS in planning this exciting new school,” said Mayor Adrian M. Fenty.

The Blue Ribbon Commission includes Wynton Marsalis, jazz legend and artistic director of Jazz at the Lincoln Center in New York; Michael Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; Peter Jablow, president and CEO of the Levine School of Music; Tony Gittens, director of the DC International Film Festival; Caleen Jennings co-chair of the Department of Performing Arts at American University; Fred Bollerer, Director and CEO, Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design; Septime Weber, artistic director of the Washington Ballet, other artists from a range of disciplines as well as several philanthropists.

“We cannot thank the commission members enough for the generous donation of their time and expertise, “said DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee. “This all-star group will enable DCPS to create one of the most competitive and highly anticipated arts middle schools in the country --for DC families.”

PURPOSE OF PLANNING COMMISSION

It has been well documented that study of the arts affects student achievement in at least six ways, this includes: Reading and language skills, mathematics skills, thinking skills and motivation to learn.

Over the next 12 months, DCPS will tap into the collective knowledge of this high-caliber group of professionals. The commission will provide essential guidance and feedback on program design and will serve to connect the school with critical resources from the arts community.

Below is the full list commission members:

  • Darrell Ayers, VP for Education, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Carol Bogash, Director of Education at the Washington Performing Arts Society.
  • Fred Bollerer, Director and CEO, Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design.
  • Eric Booth, Founder of the Arts Education program and Artistic Director of the Mentoring Program at the Juilliard School.
  • Terri Lee Freeman, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of the National Capitol Region.
  • Tony Gittens, Director of the DC International Film Festival.
  • Lynne Horning, manages the Horning Family Fund, which provides grants to causes in arts education.
  • Peter Jablow, President and CEO of the Levine School of Music.
  • Caleen Jennings, Co-Chair of the Department of the Performing Arts and a Professor of Theatre at American University.
  • Michael Kaiser, President of the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Scott Kenison, COO of the Atlas Performing Arts Center.
  • Abel López, Associate Producing Director, GALA Hispanic Theatre.
  • Wynton Marsalis, legendary musician and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center.
  • Neale Perl, President of the Washington Performing Arts Society.
  • Nancy Schwalb, Founder and Executive/Artistic Director of the DC Creative Writing Workshop.
  • Jonathan Silver, prominent member of the DC business community.
  • George Vradenburg, Chairman of the Board of the Phillips Collection.
  • Craig Wallace, Actor with extensive credits with the Shakespeare Theatre Company, the Kennedy Center, Wooly Mammoth, the Folger, and Arena Stage.
  • Septime Webre, Artistic Director of the Washington Ballet.
  • Brian Williams, Founder and Director of Step Afrika International Cultural Festival.
  • Robert Young, Director of Education at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Download the full bios of the commission members.

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