The Arts

the arts


Rockville Centre Schools’ Music Education Program Receives National Recognition

The District is one of 4% of school districts in nation to receive the distinction.

Rockville Centre, NYApril, 2022–

For the sixth consecutive year, the Rockville Centre School District has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. Rockville Centre is one of 4% of districts across the nation receiving the prestigious award in 2022.

The Best Communities Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. To qualify for the Best Communities designation, district administrators answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

This award recognizes that Rockville Centre School District is leading the way with music learning opportunities that were creatively adapted during this unusual school year with its restrictions imposed by a worldwide pandemic. 

As Rockville Centre UFSD finalizes its 2022-2023 budget, The NAMM Foundation’s Best Communities for Music Education Award and the state level implementation of the federal ESSA law bring attention to the importance of keeping music education part of curriculum offerings and available to all students. It also highlights music’s vital role in students’ overall success in school and the personal benefits of making music. Music and the Arts in Rockville Centre Schools have always been important to the social emotional development of our students. This was especially true during the last two years when ensemble performance helped combat the isolation that came with quarantining and social distancing.   

            Rockville Centre offers General Music instruction alongside Band, Orchestra and Choral ensembles in all of its elementary schools.  In the 2021-2022 school year we added music and art instruction to the kindergarten curriculum.  South Side Middle School and High School give students the opportunity to explore music composition, sequencing and engineering in modern music laboratories equipped with electronic instruments and computer software and hardware.  The secondary school students also continue to develop their performing skills in higher level instrumental and vocal groups, including Jazz ensembles. The high school offers 11th and 12th graders IB Music, a comprehensive music curriculum that integrates performance, composition, and research at the commencement level. 

Students who live in Rockville Centre have had a broad range of opportunities to perform in community-based theatre troupes, bands, orchestras, and choirs, as well as county level advanced performing ensembles where they can use and improve the skills they learn in school. 

About The NAMM Foundation

The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,300 members around the world. The foundation advances active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, and public service programs. For more information about the NAMM Foundation, please visit

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.


September 2021 brings hope that we will be returning to some semblance of normalcy after last year was characterized by remote/hybrid learning and virtual performances.  I am happy to report that we are planning live and in person classroom learning and performances as per guidance we have received from state and local government and state and national Music Education organizations (NAfME & NYSSMA). Students and teachers will observe three feet of distance and wear masks while engaging in making music and art in school. Except for those measures, our instructional and arts programs will be operating as they did in the past.  


Outstanding Performers and Artists

Each summer, I look forward to hearing about our high school students who qualified to perform at NYSSMA’s All State Conference in December. Congratulations to Isabella Coles (Vocal Jazz, Alto), Jayden Wettstein (Mixed Chorus, Bass 2), Devin Mullen (Mixed Chorus, Tenor 2), Isabelle Lu (Symphony Orchestra, Cello), and Tobey Dwyer (Symphonic Band, Trombone).  Congratulations to the following students who were selected as alternates for All State Ensembles: Jazz Drummer, Andrew Chesterton, Vocal Jazz Tenor, Tobey Dwyer, Violinist, Ryan Jeffers, Jazz Bassist, Christopher Rakeman, and Jazz Trumpeter, Leo Valenti. 

  This summer we learned that South Side High School’s Anna Verutes has been named a Newsday Scholar Artist for her accomplishments in the field of dance.  Look for her featured page in Newsday during the month of September.  Congratulations Anna!

I am always filled with pride and joy at the high level of accomplishment of these students, all the district’s teachers, and their level of dedication to their craft and pride in their work. 


Welcome New Teachers

This year, I am pleased to welcome Strings teacher Rafael Yeni to our Music Department. He will teach strings at Watson and Hewitt and Ms. Jessica Herman begins her second year teaching strings at Covert, Wilson, and Riverside. In June, we said good-bye to elementary General Music teachers Brianna Brickman and Angelina Scolari.  Replacing them will be Kimberly Corona (Covert and Watson) and Jaclyn Andes (Riverside, Watson and Covert).  Mrs. Maria LaSorsa  has resigned her position as middle school band teacher to accept the position of Middle School Assistant Principal. Congrats on the promotion! Welcome to South Side Middle School’s new band teacher, Andrew Killeen.  We welcome Mr. Christopher Brandine back to RVC.  This year, he will fill in at Hewitt for General Music teacher Christina Toomey who is on family leave with her second child.  Congratulations Christina and welcome Christopher!  Welcome to all our new and returning teachers!


After the unusual year that just passed, I am acutely aware of how critical it is to work creatively to find solutions to logistical problems in consultation with a variety of stakeholders.  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 2021-2022!


Brian Zuar, Ed.D. - Director of the Arts - September 2021

Director's Doc


Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2022 Intrado Corporation. All rights reserved.