Education

East Brunswick Schools Form Partnership with Mason Gross Extension Division

Melissa Denholtz, an instructor with Mason Gross Extension Division, speaks with her students at Robert Frost Elementary School, East Brunswick, during the Creative Movement class after school. Credits: Mason Gross
Melissa Denholtz, an instructor with Mason Gross Extension Division, leads the Creative Movement class after school at Robert Frost Elementary School, East Brunswick. Credits: Mason Gross
Josh Kesser, left,plays with Adrian Tosic, both fourth graders at Robert Frost Elementary School, East Brunswick, during the Creative Movement class. Credits: Mason Gross
Ashten Procaccini, right, and Jillian Bradley, both fifth graders at Robert Frost Elementary School, pretend to be crabs swimming in the sea during the Creative Movement class after school. Credits: Mason Gross
Samadhi Ranaweera with her sister, Tara, fifth and fourth grade respectively at Robert Frost Elementary School, East Brunswick, pause from activities. Credits: Mas

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ: The students at Robert Frost Elementary School crawled on the floor and roared like a lion in a pretend jungle, puckered their lips and swam like a fish in an imaginary ocean and hopped to pop invisible bubble wrap.

The group of about 20 third- through fifth-graders was participating in the Creative Movement class offered as part of Frost’s afterschool program.

The East Brunswick School District recently partnered with the Mason Gross Extension Division at Rutgers to bring the arts to its After School Kids (ASK) program. Mason Gross Extension Division provides arts education classes – from ballet and choir to visual arts and filmmaking – for the pre-college students.

Sign Up for E-News

"We have been aggressively working to extend teaching and learning into both our Early Morning Programs and After School Kids sessions. Our recent collaboration with the Mason Gross Extension Division of Rutgers offers our students creative opportunities to explore artistic interests. We are excited to have this opportunity for our students and are extremely appreciative of the talent Mason Gross brings to the East Brunswick Public Schools community, " Superintendent Dr. Victor Valeski said.

There are 1,200 students in kindergarten through seventh grade enrolled in the ASK program, according to Stephen Decker, principal of Early Learning and Community Enrichment. Decker said the district strives for the program to be an extension of the children’s daily instruction.

“This is not a babysitting program; this is enrichment,” Decker said. “Hopefully, we’re exposing them to something that they may never have exposure to and that creates a better educational environment for them to grow.”

Students can use the 2 ½ hours after school for homework instruction, to play sports or to take cooking classes. The partnership with the Mason Gross Extension Division allows the district to expand its program to include the arts.

“Our motto at East Brunswick is ‘Excellence in Academics, Athletics, and the Arts,’” Decker said. “My goal is to bring in the arts into our enrichment program so that we can expand our program.”

Creative Movement classes are offered at East Brunswick this fall, with plans to provide music and visual arts sessions in the spring.

“It’s a matter of building a community around the arts and we want to be part of that community,” Chris Kenniff, director of Mason Gross Extension Division, said.

Through partnerships like the one with East Brunswick, the division is able to extend its reach into the community, Kenniff added. Also this fall, the division began a partnership with Highland Park school district.  There, the Rutgers Children’s Choir & Scarlet Singers holds its weekly evening rehearsals at an elementary school and, in exchange for using the much-needed space, the division offers discounts to Highland Park families.

Decker worked with the district’s Out-of-School-Time Coordinator Karen Ector to coordinate the partnership and then launch and manage the program throughout nine schools. Both also happen to be musicians, who know the value of an art education.

“The arts are important because education isn’t in isolation; it’s the whole child,” said Decker.

The instructors for the Creative Movement classes at East Brunswick are candidates or alumni from the Master’s in Dance Education program at Mason Gross, Kenniff said. Those in the Master’s program study to become dance teachers in schools. “They already have a love for teaching,” he said.

Melissa Denholtz, who taught one of the Creative Movement classes in October, said she enjoys working with elementary-school children.

“It’s more fun to work with kids who’ve never danced before because dancers are so disciplined, they can’t get out of their owns heads,” Denholtz said. “These kids just explore.”

Samadhi Ranaweera, a fifth-grader, participated in Denholtz’s class with her younger sister Tara, who is in fourth grade.

“It’s really, really fun,” the older sibling said with a wide smile. “You get to do all these crazy, fun things. It’s OK to be crazy once in a while.”

 

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

East Brunswick

East Brunswick: What Do You Do with a Library When It Stops Being a Library? (Part 2 of 4)

December 9, 2017

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ -  Appleby. DeVoe. Chittick. Warnsdorfer. Bowne.  Good old East Brunswick names, names that appear all over town and grace local schools and streets here and in Spotswood.  Fred DeVoe loved the already-old building on Main Street in which his mother Alice Appleby DeVoe was born.  Nobody quite knows the age of the building, though some suggest that ...

East Brunswick: The History of...McGinnis School

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - As have many of the older buildings in our township, the recently-demolished McGinnis School has fascinated residents. For a long time, this building stood dormant, piquing the curiosity of passersby, as well as Warnsdorfer students in the building next door. I, myself, was among those young minds who was interested in this old structure that stood adjacent to my elementary ...

ESCNJ Prepares Students For Independent Living

December 14, 2017

PISCATAWAY--While discussing Community-based Instruction (CBI) on the Educational Services Commission of New Jersey’s (ESCNJ) Better Together podcast, first year South River Public Schools Superintendent Sylvia Zircher remarked on the organizations value in “teaching you how to fish,” when it comes to operating educational programs.

 Ms. Zircher, a first year ESCNJ Board ...

Upcoming Events

Fri, December 22, 8:00 PM

State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick

The Sound of Music

Arts & Entertainment

Wed, December 27, 7:00 AM

Raritan Valley YMCA, East Brunswick

Healthy Chefs at the Raritan Valley Y

Arts & Entertainment Education Other

Thu, December 28, 7:00 AM

Raritan Valley YMCA, East Brunswick

Holidays Around the World at the Raritan Valley Y

Other

Hour of Code Returns to East Brunswick Public Library

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) hosts a special late night Hour of Code program for teens on Saturday, December 16, from 5:00 to 9:00 pm.

 

The Hour of Code program celebrates its fourth anniversary. The program is a partnership between the library and the East Brunswick High School Code club.

 

Teens will have ...

Victoria and Albert: A Royal Love Affair by Daisy Goodwin and Sara Sheridan

Victoria and Albert: A Royal Love Affair by Daisy Goodwin and Sara Sheridan (St. Martin's Press, 2017)

Several months ago I reviewed the magnificent compendium Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin Manuel Miranda. This charming edition is a must for anyone who is planning to see the Hamilton in order to become familiarized with the libretto and prepare him/herself for an extra-ordinary ...

'It's a Wonderful Life'from film to stage to radio

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ shows surprising appeal as radio/stage production

By Liz Keill

MADISON, NJ – The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey has selected a nostalgic and heartwarming version of the classic Frank Capra movie from the 1140’s to entertain holiday audiences. “It’s a Wonderful Life” has somehow become a classic Christmas ...