ARTS@FIU Expands Creativity in Miami-Dade Public Schools


The story was posted by FIU Student Media Staff Writer Samantha Davis and is available by clicking here.

On Tuesday, Nov. 4, teachers from all over Miami-Dade County flocked to the Wertheim Performing Arts Center for one of the biggest art events of the year. ARTS@FIU was a professional development day for any and all arts teachers to gain knowledge and learn techniques to engage the students in their classes.

Bryan Petorak, District Supervisor of the Performing Arts Division of Academic Support and the Office of Academics and Transportation for the Miami-Dade Public Schools system, was the man behind the event. Petorak oversees professional development for teachers, curriculum related to the performing arts, implementation of legislation that affects the performing arts, scheduling district performances and much more, so it was important to him that ARTS@FIU be engaging and informative.

Petorak met with FIU faculty prior to the event to shape ARTS@FIU into a day that would benefit Miami-Dade County teachers.

“I wanted to identify sessions that we could offer for all of the disciplines that we have here with art, music and theatre,” Petorak said.

According to Petorak, ARTS@FIU has just focused on music education the last two years but expanded to include theatre and art this year.

The event began at 8:30 a.m. with an introduction by Petorak and a video he showed in which Dr. Maya Angelou directly spoke about how to have a positive impact on peoples’ lives. Petorak then read one of his favorite poems by Dr. Angelou, “On the Pulse of Morning” to prepare the teachers for a day of learning how to impact their students’ lives.

At around 9 a.m. the teachers broke off into music, art, and theatre sessions.

“Teachers are participating in these sessions just as students participate in classes and courses. They can then take new information to their classes that will be useful,” Petorak said.

One session, “Participatory Culture: Creativity in Music Programs” led by Evan Tobias, Assistant Professor of Education at Arizona State University, analyzed the song “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons to reveal the ways in which society interprets music. The session featured a variety of covers, parodies, remixes and mashups of the song as a way to get music teachers thinking about how they can spark creativity in their classrooms and encourage students to share ideas with each other.

“My favorite part about today is getting together with colleagues and learning new techniques for the classroom,” said Ana Maria, a music teacher at Laura C. Saunders Elementary School.

David Cruz, an orchestra, chorus, and theater teacher at South Miami Senior High, enjoys connecting with his students.

“The greatest thing about teaching music is watching the growth of the students, sharing music with them, and influencing their lives,” Cruz said.

Other sessions at the arts event included Directing and Playwriting, an orchestra session in which teachers practiced playing their violins, and more.

FIU students played an integral role throughout the day.

“We made sure that we met and greeted the teachers and assisted with the workshops. It was beneficial for me to see how teachers think,” said Namdzy Marcelin, a freshman majoring in Music Education.

ARTS@FIU was a chance for students to see what their work as future teachers will be like.

“The best part about today was being able to interact with people who will eventually be my peers and getting an idea of what I can bring to the school system,” said Alex Toussaint, a sophomore majoring in Music Education.

ARTS@FIU is one of several professional development days for Miami-Dade County teachers and brought in a significant number of teachers this year.

The FIU School of Music would like to thank the Johnny Mercer Foundation for their generous and continual support of music initiatives throughout Miami-Dade County. This year, they have provided over 30,000 enrichment program guides for public school teachers and their students, in addition to awarding fellowships to four School of Music students. For more information, click here.




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