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Waterford Twp. School District Receives Grant to Host Professional Teaching Artist

Atco Elementary School is one of 12 New Jersey schools to receive a grant this year.

In this photo: Karen Abdul Malik (a.k.a. Queen Nur) conducts a virtual workshop with third graders from Ms. Michelini’s class (Photo provided)

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WATERFORD TOWNSHIP, NJ — Atco Elementary School in Waterford Township (Camden County) was awarded a grant for the Artists in Education Residency Program (AIE).

Students in first through third grades have been working with Karen Abdul Malik a.k.a. “Queen Nur” for 20 days of hands-on workshops. In the workshops, students explore the art of storytelling by collaborating to modify well-known songs and fairytales to send a renewed message of making our world a better place.

Sometimes serious, sometimes silly, but always fun, students address topics such as kindness, safety, world hunger, respecting boundaries, and hard work.

“We are thrilled to receive this generous grant,” said Dr. Brenda Harring, Principal of Atco Elementary School. “Providing quality arts programming to our students has always been a goal at Waterford Township School District. With the help of the Artists in Education (AIE) Residency, we have offered our students inspiring, arts-rich experiences beyond the scope of the classroom activities. Each and every day, we strive to create an educational environment that builds a foundation for student success – emotionally, socially, and academically.”

Atco Elementary School is working with professional teaching artist, Queen Nur, to host a theater arts project using storytelling as a medium.

Ms. York Zaleski, visual arts teacher for students in kindergarten through grade three, applied for the grant to address New Jersey’s mandated need for an exploratory theater arts program.

The residency includes:

  • in-depth, hands-on workshops in storytelling creation and presentation with a professional artist, Queen Nur
  • addressing themes of importance to the students with special consideration for their social and emotional learning and development
  • the opportunity for students to consider Theater as an Art, and possibly develop a lifelong appreciation and/or pursuit
  • guidance and inspiration for the Enrichment Educators, in the development an exploratory Theater Arts Program
  • professional development for classroom teachers, providing ideas and new skills for using this unique approach to literacy and social-emotional learning in their classrooms
  • a family Zoom event or recorded celebration of students’ work

Atco Elementary School is one of 12 New Jersey schools to receive a grant this year.

The Artists in Education Residency program is a co-sponsored project of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and Young Audiences Arts for Learning New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania.

The program is implemented in partnership with regional partners, including Appel Farm Arts & Music Campus, Count Basie Center for the Arts, and Morris Arts.

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