The stars are shining brightly at the Teaneck Community Charter School in Teaneck, New Jersey which has won one of ten grand prizes in the nationwide “NBC’s ‘Smash’: Make a Musical” program. The philanthropic initiative, sponsored by NBC’s hit musical drama series “Smash” and administered by iTheatrics’ Junior Theater Project, works with under-served schools across the country to stage their own productions and implement self-sustaining theater programs.
I had the privilege of representing MTI and iTheatrics at a press event held at the school on their last day of classes before the summer to celebrate the school’s accomplishment with students, teachers and special guests.
Broadway actresses Donna Vivino and Kate Fahrner from the hit musical “Wicked” gave a stellar performance of “For Good” - and former student and Teaneck Teen Idol winner Sumner Perera kicked off the day with “Lullaby of Broadway.”
Teaneck’s Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin and Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen, as well as other State and Township officials and community leaders were on hand to lend their support and enjoy the festivities.
Over 1,000 schools across the nation applied for the ‘SMASH’: Make A Musical Program (Fall 2012) and 30 finalists were selected by iTheatrics’ Junior Theater Project. America cast over 250,000 votes for its favorites at makeamusical.org. The Teaneck Community Charter School rallied over 12,000 votes, an impressive effort for a small community with 306 elementary and middle school students.
“NBC’s ‘Smash’: Make a Musical” launched in January of 2012 with 20 schools in 20 U.S. cities. This June, the schools performed their first-ever musicals. Thanks to phase one (Spring 2012) of “NBC’s ‘Smash’: Make a Musical” 640 hours of teacher training has been completed, over 1,000 children participated in their very first musical, over 13,000 children have access to quality arts programs in their schools, and over 52,000 people will attend these school performances.
This fall, nationally recognized master theater teachers will travel to the Teaneck Community Charter School to lead two professional development workshops with teachers and students beginning. These workshops take educators step-by-step through the process of producing their first-ever musical.
The school will be given the rights to produce a show from MTI’s Broadway Junior© collection of musicals for student performances and will be mentored through the production process by local advisors. At the completion of the program, the school will present multiple public performances of its show for the entire school and the greater community.
I was happy to learn from music teacher Jaime Valente that the students and teachers are not going to wait until the fall to get started on their theatrical journey. Parents and community members are so excited and supportive of this program that TCCS will run a three-week summer theatre camp at the school culminating with a performance of WILLY WONKA KIDS in August. We wish them the best of luck and welcome them into the theatre family.
About Teaneck Community Charter School
For 14 years, the Teaneck Community Charter School (TCCS) has operated as one of New Jersey’s most successful charter school programs. TCCS is one of the first schools granted a charter in New Jersey and was organized through a grassroots effort by a diverse group of very committed and determined parents and educators who resided in the Township of Teaneck, New Jersey. As a “community school,” the success of the program continues to rely on the passion and energy of the parents and educators within the school.
After a decade of renting facilities for the school, the TCCS community once again used grass-roots strategies to purchase and renovate an industrial warehouse in Teaneck for their schoolhouse. The bright, friendly, and technologically-equipped building provides a healthy and effective learning environment for the children. However, there were not enough funds to complete the whole renovation – an area on the 2nd floor remains unfinished and unusable. The unfinished space is slated to be the school’s Creative Arts Suite. Since Arts Education is an integral aspect of the school’s curriculum, it is a priority of the community to finish the Creative Arts Suite.
As a New Jersey public charter school, the Teaneck Community Charter School operates without facility funding. The school’s local equalization aid is stretched thin to cover instructional, administrative, and support expenditures. There are few funds available for capital improvements and building upgrades.
The Teaneck Community Charter School seeks sponsorship to complete the Creative Arts Suite. The school community’s Parent/Teacher Organization will provide the foundational support with a gift of $20,000. The school encourages local businesses, individuals, arts foundations, and others to support the effort. Donations are administered by TCSCO, 563 Chestnut Avenue, Teaneck NJ 07666. All contributions are tax-deductible. For ease of giving, the school’s web site contains an internet link for accepting donations. The Teaneck Community Charter School web site is www.tccsnj.org
The mission of the Teaneck Community Charter School is to provide a nurturing environment in which students realize their full intellectual potential and become self-directed learners, who make both pragmatic and creative use of basic skills and who understand and appreciate the cultural diversity of our society. The faculty, staff, parents, extended family, and other members of a child’s support network are committed to creating and operating a student-centered “learning community” which promotes and supports a child’s natural curiosity and enthusiasm for acquiring knowledge. This learning community follows a “living curriculum” – experiential, interdisciplinary studies that encompass literacy, critical thinking, and responsible social interaction while empowering each child to demonstrate his/her unique interests and abilities.
The township of Teaneck has long been rich in cultural, ethnic and racial diversity. This spirit of tolerance and unity was demonstrated in the 1960’s when Teaneck became the first town in New Jersey to voluntarily begin busing to desegregate its schools. This commitment to progressive ideas made Teaneck an ideal place to implement an innovative educational initiative of a charter school – especially one in the mold of the Teaneck Community Charter School.