WEST ORANGE, NJ - Last spring, the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) selected 12 two-member teams for its Model Curriculum Framework Project. Golda Och Academy’s Upper School Dean of Students and Arts Department Chair Jordan Herskowitz was chosen out of the more than 100 applicants for the program, which is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The two-member teams consist of high school theatre educators and teaching artists from across the country who will create a high school curriculum framework and a series of standards-based instructional units in targeted areas of theatre. Herskowitz has been paired with NYC teaching artist Brian Curl for the musical theatre unit.
Teams met in July for a three-day professional development symposium in Cincinnati where they collaborated and worked alongside EdTA national staff. Herskowitz and Curl then implemented a unit at Golda Och Academy at the beginning of the school year called Finding the Meaning Behind the Movement to discover what drives a character to move onstage. Eleven high school students were selected to participate in this pilot program which met over the course of five afterschool sessions.
“The workshop provided me focus as an actor and gave me examples of what I can do better to improve my acting to expand myself,” said Golda Och Academy sophomore Gabi Weiss.
Students explored character movement and workshopped a solo or duet song from a musical theatre piece. Additionally, participants were filmed during the workshops and interviewed about their experience in the program for Herskowitz and Curl to submit their findings. EdTA staff member Ken Bolinsky also came to observe and provide feedback. Senior Amanda Feldman said prior to the workshop, she was afraid to test her emotional range as an actor.
“Once we started the workshop," Feldman said. "it helped me to commit to my acting choices. Now, I feel more confident in the characters I play. “
According to Herskowitz, “Having Golda Och Academy as one of the participating schools in this project has given our students unique insight into the development of a theatre curriculum. Our students’ work will become an integral part of new national standards for high school theatre classes. I have no doubt our students greatly benefited from working with Mr. Curl and will apply these techniques in future arts productions.”