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Paramus Public Schools

In 2007, Lisa Vartanian, Supervisor of Fine, Performing, and Practical Arts in the Paramus Public School District, was looking for resources to help her enhance the arts education programming in her district.

It was at this time that the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership (now Arts Ed NJ) published the findings of a statewide survey on arts education entitled, Within Our Power: The Progress, Plight and Promise of Arts Education for Every Child. The survey highlighted the status of existing programming in arts education among New Jersey Public Schools and made recommendations for how to enhance those programs.

Lisa shared with us how she used the survey findings in her district.

“As a new administrator, the survey helped me realize where our strengths and weaknesses were in the area of arts education.  The survey enabled me to sit with principals and central office administration within the district and examine the arts department to see how we could improve the overall program.  After the survey was complete, I was able to use the data collected to propose new programs and to make changes to some of the programs currently in place. In addition to using the data, I utilized a ‘model schools’ rubric that the Arts Ed NJ provided during one of their workshops as a guide. The rubric included the stated criteria for what made a model school and indicators of what to ‘look for’.  I was determined that the next time the survey came out – Paramus was going to be ready!”

The Resources: 
Since 2007, Lisa and her colleagues have systematically worked to enhance the program utilizing the following resources:

  • Surveys published in 2005 and 2012 on the state of arts education in New Jersey
  • Professional Development sessions facilitated by the staff at Arts Ed NJ
  • The Arts Ed NJ newsletters which keep educators and district administrators up to date with current trends in arts education
  • Ongoing easy-to-access research available through and
  • The ‘model schools’ rubric, which helped administrators and educators take steps to meet criteria for arts education in the state.
  • The Arts Ed Now ‘Today/Tomorrow’ Campaign, which was used to engage with parents, students, and staff, at a district wide arts festival.
  • Attending the Arts Ed Summit to hear the status of arts education in New Jersey
  • Use of Arts Ed Now resources such as, infographics and ‘Stats and Resources’

“I use both Arts Ed NJ and Arts Ed Now online resources on a regular basis. They are constantly updating their website with new and useful research and articles.  Whenever I give a presentation or speak at an event, I reference the research and data the website provides.” 
Lisa Vartanian, Supervisor for Fine, Performing, and Practical Arts K-12 Paramus Public Schools

The Outcomes: 
Thanks to the support of Arts Ed NJ, and the Arts Ed Now campaign, Lisa worked closely with educators and a supportive school board to enhance the arts education programs. These efforts have resulted in…

  • A new dance program at Paramus High School
  • A new music technology program with new classes such as Music Technology and Piano Lab
  • A new state of the art MAC lab with new art classes such as Filmmaking, Documentary, AP Photography
  • A revised Theater Arts program
  • Increased interest in the arts among students, including an increased number of students applying to colleges for degrees in the arts.
  • Recognition as a “Model School in the Arts”

“Arts Ed Now has given us a broader platform within New Jersey to share how the arts in education are fostered, developed, and supported.”
 Dance Educator, Claudine Ranieri

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