The Arts

the arts

The 6th Grade Concert, originally scheduled for January 5th, is being postponed to February 2nd at 7:00 PM.

Karen Baer receiving the Established Educator Award

Karen Baer taught in Rockville Centre over three decades, most of them at SSHS.  She inaugurated the IB Music Program, and is a distinguished choral music teacher and concert pianist.  After her retirement from RVC in 2012, Mrs. Baer worked as an adjunct professor at Adelphi University, conducting choirs and supervising student teachers.  For more than 20 years, she accompanied the All State Honors Choirs at the annual NYSSMA Winter Conference.  In the Winter of 2019, NYSSMA awarded her the Established Educator Award in recognition her outstanding accomplishments in the advancement of Music Education.  Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic prohibited them from actually presenting her with the plaque, until today. 

Pictured with Mrs. Baer are Dr. Brian Zuar, Director of the Arts in Rockville Centre, Mr. Michael Salzman, Director of Music in Syosset and Past President of NYSSMA, and Susan Weber, retired music teacher and Chair of NYSSMA’s Award Committee.


This is a September like no other I have experienced in my 40 years in the field of education.  In fact, this entire calendar year of 2020 has been equally unparalleled on so many levels!  We have been saddened by the loss of life and livelihood suffered by so many and we were jolted into examining and reexamining our attitudes toward racial inequities that persist in our society. Yet, we have also been inspired by acts of kindness and bravery by so many essential workers – health care professionals, police, firefighters, mass transit operators, truck drivers, delivery services, and of course, educators. 


Last spring, teachers and administrators worked around the clock to create and deliver instruction in a virtual setting.  They learned, on the fly in many instances, and valiantly strove to maintain as much of a sense of normalcy as could be mustered. We all worked to reassure students and families that we would pull though this time together and continue to learn and grow. 


Over the summer, Rockville Centre welcomed Mr. June Chang, our new Superintendent of Schools, and, starting from the foundation prepared by Dr. Johnson, he immediately set into motion a collaborative plan to prepare for this moment when schools would reopen. Under this reentry plan, I worked with teachers, parents, building and district administrators to first raise questions about safety and best instructional practices in the subject areas that I supervise. Then, based on guidance from the federal, state, and local governments, along with research conducted at various universities, we developed plans to deliver Music, Art, Technology, and Family & Consumer Science instruction from our Elementary schools and up through Rockville Centre’s Middle and into High School.  Below is a summary of the plans on place to provide visual, performing arts, and CTE instruction safely to the children of RVC. 


Co-Curricular and Extra-Curricular Reentry Subcommittee Summary Music and Performing Arts

Since our last meeting in July, I sent notes to the Music, Art, Family and Consumer Science, and Technology Departments in addition to the middle and high school theatrical directors. We have also had multiple phone conversations and each department has had a virtual department meeting to address and discuss the issues surfaced in our committees and by various professional organizations. 


I followed up with Mr. Bartels regarding his work with the health and safety subcommittee particularly regarding ventilation and air quality.  Mr. Bartels has brought in experts to address the air conditioning and humidity issues in particular rooms and has a variety of additional measures ready to ameliorate any problems.   Mr. Chang has indicated that, according to our architects, the air exchange rate in our classrooms is four times per hour, or every 15 minutes. 


General Music teachers at the elementary level will push in to the classrooms where students will be masked and separated from one another by plexiglass screens. Rhythmic activities will be emphasized and singing will be minimized.  Students will engage in critical listening followed by written reflection.  This year, third graders will not play the recorder.  Elementary general music teachers are working on assembling individual bags of percussion instruments for each student.  This will serve both as a hygienic measure (no sharing of mallets, shakers, etc.) and a practical one (ability to take home in the event remote learning). 

Choral selections will be assembled virtually by recording individual and small groups of students singing component parts.  Concerts will be virtual and broadcast either online or via the school channel (no live audience).   Band and Orchestra teachers will meet their students in small groups, socially distanced (6 feet for stringed instruments and 12 feet for brass and winds) and wearing masks.  Wind and brass players will also mask the bell of their instruments to mitigate the aerosols dispersed in the breath of the player.  Early morning band and orchestra rehearsals will occur, but with small portions of the ensemble rather than the entire group.


Elementary Art teachers will push into the classrooms.  Students will be masked and separated from one another by plexiglass screens. Elementary art teachers are working on assembling individual bags of supplies for each student.  This will serve both as a hygienic measure (no sharing of brushes, crayons, etc.) and a practical one (ability to take home for remote learning).  Additional art supplies have already been listed on elementary school supply lists for parents to purchase.  Additional materials will be purchased as far possible with budget funds and PTA’s may be asked to supplement funds for supplies for those who are unable to buy them


On the secondary level, the red and blue day schedules will mean that teachers will be seeing half their music ensembles in person, enabling social distancing, while half will be logged in from home.  Secondary principals are scheduling some ensembles in the auditorium to enable social distancing and the same safety measures (masks) will be in place as described for the elementary bands, choirs, and orchestras.  The same concert protocols described above for elementary schools will be in place for the secondary ensembles.  Teachers of lab classes (Music Studio, Theory, and Technology) will monitor students as they enter their classes to ensure that they sanitize their hands before working on the computer/piano keyboard work stations and again when they are done.  The alternate day schedule will facilitate social distancing.    


The red and blue day schedules will mean that secondary Art teachers will be seeing half their classes in person, enabling social distancing, while half will be logged in from home. Students will be masked in the classroom.  We will not share materials in the classroom and each student should have his/her own at supply kit.  When students are working from home, they can observe the introductory lecture/demonstration by the teacher, then work on their pieces from home or do independent research or written reflections.    Teachers have already gone into secondary art rooms and begun the process of marking off the tables, floors, and sink areas for social distancing guides. 



Each year, Extra-Curricular Theater programs at the secondary level include a Fall Revue at the MS and a drama at the HS.  This year, if these extra-curricular activities are approved, they will occur virtually.  Students will rehearse with their directors in Zoom or Google Meet formats, video tape performances, and have them assembled into a virtual production.  Students will not assemble in the buildings after school for rehearsals or performances. 


Meetings with the FACS (Family and Consumer Science) and Technology Departments have yielded similar results as the ones described above for Music, Art, and Theater.  FACS teachers are working on assembling individual sewing kits for each student.  This will serve both as a hygienic measure (no sharing supplies) and a practical one (ability to take home for alternate day remote learning).  They will not be using the sewing machines, since they will not have access to the machines at home.  Food preparation will occur with half the class (red and blue days) so that each student will be distanced and occupy one of the four kitchen spaces either alone or with only one other student.  When there are two, they will use plexiglass dividers to separate them at their table and only one will be cooking.  Technology teachers will have their students distanced (red and blue days) and their emphasis will be on hand sanitizing.  As with all teachers in all departments, they will monitor carefully to ensure that all students sanitize their hands upon entering the room, when they change activities during a lesson, and again at the end before they leave the room.  Tech teachers will limit access to tools during any given period which will be facilitated by half sized classes due to red and blue day schedules. 



Welcome New Teachers

Last year, we welcomed Ms. Angelina Scolari as a leave replacement general music teacher at Hewitt. This year, I am pleased to welcome her to our full-time teaching staff!   She will teach strings at Wilson and Covert and General Music at Covert, and Watson.  Welcome to Ms. Jessica Herman who will be teaching strings at Hewitt, Watson, and Riverside! In June, we said good-bye to veteran High School Orchestra Teacher, Mr. David Law upon his retirement. Congratulations to Mrs. Katie Mark on her appointment to the High School Music Department and congratulations to Ms. Codi Ng as she joins the Middle School music staff. Mrs. Maria LaSorsa  has taken leave of her position as middle school band teacher to accept the position of Middle School Assistant Principal. Congrats on the promotion! Replacing her for the year will be Mr. Daniel Wendelken. ­ Two of our teachers will be out on short term and intermittent family leave, Mr. Catino, band teacher at SSHS and Mrs. Bock, music teacher at Riverside and Covert.   We welcome Mr. Christopher Brandine to fill in at the HS and Mr. Alexander Prince as a substitute at Riverside and Covert. Ms. Monica Rzewski will be replacing Mr. Gary Sliva who retired in June, teaching the Photo and Video units of Exploratory 7 at the MS.  Welcome to all our new and returning teachers!


After the unusual spring and summer that just past, I am acutely aware of how critical it is to work creatively to find solutions to real world problems.  More than ever, I am grateful for the collaboration and cooperation of a supportive board of education, dedicated administrators at the district and building levels and high-quality professionals who teach our children, along with students, parents, the Arts Sponsors, Education Foundation, and AIM Committees in this wonderful community.  Together we will work on the continued development of arts education.  It’s good to be back for 2020-2021!


Brian Zuar, Ed.D. - Director of the Arts - September 2020

Director's Doc


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