Watch CBS News

ArtsConnection lets real life artists share their craft with students in NYC public schools

ArtsConnection lets real life artists share their craft with students
ArtsConnection lets real life artists share their craft with students 02:27

NEW YORK - Arts classes in public schools no longer come as a guarantee. For more than 40 years, one nonprofit, ArtsConnection, has brought artists in to help.

This week, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the kids of PS 382X in the Bronx performed a classic fan dance from Mexico, home country of guest teacher, professional dancer Alda Reuter.

"I had a child who was born here in the United States," Reuter said, "and I wanted to pass my heritage, my traditions to him. So that's how it started, so I see in every kid, my kid."

Reuter is one of 130 practicing artists who share their craft with students at 100 ArtsConnection partner schools.

"Which is different from the art teacher or the dance teacher in the schools," explained executive director Rachel Watts. "They're bringing their artistry, their real-life artistry and practice to the classroom, and we think that that's important as well."

ArtsConnection steps in when school budgets make cuts to programming, providing enrichment kids miss sitting at a desk.

"When language fails, music speaks," said PS382X arts liaison Madonna Lee, who works full-time as an English Second Language teacher. "And I've seen firsthand how these residencies have really built community within our classroom and even engage the most reluctant learners."

Lee's second language learners clearly identify with the culturally-relevant classes, which Reuter teaches bilingually.

"It's such a joy to witness," Lee said. "And it gets a little emotional for me. Growing up as a child of immigrants, my family immigrated from Korea, so I didn't actually have very many opportunities for that when I was growing up in school."

Beyond the music and movement, Reuter passes on life lessons to her students, offering an introduction to emotion.

"It's really helped with occupational therapy and language development and learning vocabulary associated with feelings," Lee explained, " the social emotional aspect."

This week, Lee accepts ArtsConnection's highest honor for teachers, the Janklow Award, at the organization's annual back to school fundraising gala.

Without her dedication and the nonprofit's help, her elementary school would definitely miss a beat.

The ArtsConnection Gala happens Wednesday in Chelsea. To find out how to attend, click here.

Have a story idea or tip in Harlem? Email Jessi by CLICKING HERE.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.