NY Public School PS 166 Prioritizes Arts in Education

On the Upper West side of New York City's Manhattan, there's a very special public elementary school named after one of the greatest composers in American theatre, Richard Rodgers. One of the many reasons this school is so unique, is that it's one of the only public elementary schools where kids from Kindergarten through grade five get music, art and dance EVERY SINGLE WEEK. With an emphasis on expanded arts programming throughout the year, PS166, The Richard Rodgers School of Arts and Technology, is prioritizing arts education.

"We have phenomenal art, music and dance teachers who in addition to introducing students to the techniques and styles of artists, musicians and performers in class, students are also enriched through experiences that expose them to cultural events and museums," says PS166 principal Debra Mastriano. "These are invaluable experiences that help educate the whole child and increases their background knowledge beyond the walls of a classroom."

From The Sound of Music to Oklahoma! to South Pacific, Richard Rodgers helped change the face of Broadway musicals. Along with Jerome Kern, Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers was a pioneer of the American musical theatre, creating over 43 musicals and over 900 original songs.

"It is our mission to carry on the namesake of Richard Rodgers and continue with the arts programs at our school." Says Mastriano.

Part of that mission involves intense parent fundraising that goes on throughout the year.

"Without parent support, our art residencies in each and every grade wouldn't be possible. For example, Shakespeare Week, Richard Rodgers Day, Metropolitan Opera, Chess, Gardening, Wellness in Schools, Salvadori and many, many more contribute to enhancing the lives of each and every one of our students."

A few of these powerhouse fundraisers are open to the public at large, and some will appeal specifically to theatre fans. On March 6th, Parent volunteer producer Marc Lovci will present Broadway Sings, an annual concert featuring real Broadway performers on the stage of the PS166 auditorium.

The highest-grossing fundraising event at the Richard Rodgers school is happening right now. The annual online auction raises essential funds to keep arts in education a top priority for the kids at PS166. Anyone can take advantage of the items being offered online, from Disney World Passes and Broadway show tickets to Jewelry and personal stylist sessions. The online auction can be viewed at www.ps166auction.com, and bidding closes March 18th.

"We consider ourselves extremely lucky to have found our extraordinary art, dance and music teachers who work as a team, closely collaborating on exciting student productions that involve every student within our school community throughout the year," says Mastriano. " These programs support our curriculum and provide students with an opportunity to have hands-on experiences that deepen their learning."

You can support PS166 and Arts in Education by visiting their online auction site and bidding on items, or by sharing this article with administrators in your child's school.

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From This Author Erin Leigh Peck

Erin Leigh Peck is a New York based actor, writer and mother. She has performed on and off Broadway, in regional theatre and on tour, (read more...)

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