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  5. Westchester teachers eager to bring their students’ writing to life gather at Paideia School 15 for a workshop conducted by The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College introducing the nationally acclaimed Neighborhood Bridges program. Recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a model for arts integration, Neighborhood Bridges blends theatre arts with English Language Arts to ignite a student’s creativity and connect that passion to paper. The program enhances students’ narrative and descriptive writing and assists in their development of critical literacy.

    Originally developed by The Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Neighborhood Bridges was awarded a U.S. Department of Education Dissemination grant, allowing the program’s outreach to extend to schools across the country. The Performing Arts Center piloted the program locally last year, and Tiffany Soares’ fifth grade class at Paideia School 15 was among the participants. A grant awarded by the Frog Rock Foundation makes further expansion for 2012-2013 possible, and additional Paideia School 15 classes will be among the new participants.

    "The award of a grant by the Frog Rock Foundation in support of the expansion of the Neighborhood Bridges program is recognition of how arts organizations can realign their arts educational mission to ensure maximum impact in local schools. The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College and Paideia School 15, for instance, have managed a teacher/teaching artist collaboration that is intended to not only integrate performing arts into the school day, but actively impact other areas of the curriculum while doing so,” said Ian Driver, Manager of Education for The Performing Arts Center.

    Paideia School 15 Principal Michael Shapiro concurred. “We are eager to engage more of our classes in this program. Neighborhood Bridges not only helped our students improve their writing skills but also empowered them through increased self-esteem, heightened confidence in public speaking and improved social skills. We are proud to be hosting this workshop and look forward to building ‘neighborhood bridges’ with other districts.”

    To provide newcomers a glimpse of the program in action, Mrs. Soares and her students will conduct a classroom demonstration. Teachers will then work with teaching artists and local artists to learn techniques on how to incorporate what they have witnessed into their own classroom lessons.

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