Summer Institute For Educators

Summer Institute for Educators 2020

Empowering Student Voices Through the Arts

Virtual Binder

On July 20-22, 2020, Muse offered a free, virtual three-day Summer Institute for Educators designed for all elementary, middle, high school and home-school educators in all subject areas. “Empowering Student Voices Through the Arts” focused on building young people’s resilience through the arts.

In 2019, after the region’s devastating 15 tornadoes—before the mass shooting, teachers asked if Muse could focus on resilience during its next institute. They asked Muse specifically to focus on student voice and empowerment and the ways in which the arts could help young people process, reflect and creatively share their experiences while rebuilding a sense of community in schools (e.g., many students were displaced because of the recent tornadoes).

In response, Muse set aside its original working plan for the 2020 institute in order to address teacher needs and hopes. Now, with the pandemic and a looming recession, this theme is even more relevant and important. Families are “home-schooling” whether they are prepared or not. And, our teachers are on the frontlines teaching each day online. Teachers need support more than ever to equip students with practical and creative tools to build resilience, which research increasingly shows is an essential trait for the health and adaptability they need to be able to recover from these unrelenting challenges they are facing.

The institute introduced teachers and home-school educators to an array of artists whose work is at the nexus of creativity, community healing and social transformation (i.e., a cappella singing, the blues, dance, visual art and storytelling). Artists and presenters invited teachers to explore theory and practice through diverse methods of creation, with each unified by the context of building resilience through joyful learning.

As Muse has done in the past, institute artists will continue to offer year-round professional development for all teachers through curriculum development workshops and mini-master classes during the school year. The Muse staff and teaching artists will support teachers as they bring creative activities into their online learning approaches and celebrate the creative spirit that lies within all students.

Participating teachers earn 15 seat hours for attending the Summer Institute (three days).

Summer Institute 2020 Artist Bios

Dara N. Byrne, PhD, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Retention & Dean of Undergraduate Studies John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY). As Associate Provost and Dean, Dara Byrne is responsible for shepherding the strategic plans of much of John Jay College’s undergraduate operation. Dean Byrne oversees offices such as the Academic Advisement Center, Center for Post-graduate Opportunity, Center for Career & Professional Development,  CUNY Justice Academy, John Jay College Honors Program, Macaulay Honors College at John Jay, Math Foundations & Quantitative Reasoning, Percy Ellis Sutton SEEK Program, John Jay ACE, Pre-Law Institute, Student Academic Success Programs, Writing Across the Curriculum, and the campus’ main tutoring centers, learning laboratories, and academic support services. In this capacity, she also works closely with faculty and academic departments to address the curricular needs of students and to assess learning. A member of the CUNY community since 2002, Dean Byrne has held several leadership positions including Founding Director of Macaulay Honors College at John Jay, Faculty Director of the John Jay College Honors Program, Founding Director of the Siegel Fellowship in Strategic and Nonprofit Communication and Interim Director of The Percy Ellis Sutton SEEK Program. She is a professor of Rhetoric and Intercultural Communication in the Department of Communication and Theatre Arts. Her publications include contributions to volumes, such as Brown v. Board of Education: Its Impact on Public Education 1954-2004; HBCUs Models for Success: Supporting Achievement and Retention of Black Males; The Unfinished Agenda of Brown v. Board of Education; The Unfinished Agenda of the Selma-Montgomery Voting Rights March; Learning Race and Ethnicity: Youth and Digital Media.

Shireen Dickson has been Jazz Power Initiative choreographer-in-residence since 2000. She has worked in dance and arts education for over 20 years – as a performer, teaching artist, lecturer, curriculum developer and New York City Department of Education classroom teacher. She spent ten years performing with and assisting award-winning choreographer Dianne McIntyre at renowned performance venues, dance and jazz festivals throughout the country. In addition to currently directing the 25-year-old Okra Dance Company (which presents programs featuring African American vernacular and world rhythmic and folk dances), Dickson has developed programs and presented for a diverse range of institutions, including NY Dance Parade, Elizabeth Streb Dance, Pilobolus, National Black Arts Festival and United Federation of Teachers. Dickson is a founding member of the Collegium for African-Diaspora Dance based at Duke University and directs their bi-annual international conference.

Carol Maillard is one of the founding members of the Grammy Award-winning a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock. Although she originally attended Catholic University of America on scholarship as a Violin Performance major, she soon began writing music and performing with the drama department and eventually changed her major to theater. Maillard became an accomplished actress and has performed in film, television, cabaret and on stage. Her theater credits encompass a wide range of styles from musical comedy and revues to drama and experimental. She has worked on Broadway in Don’t Get God Started, It’s So Nice to be Civilized, Comin’ Uptown, Home and Eubie! and off-Broadway with the Negro Ensemble Company, the New York Shakespeare Festival and at the Actors Studio and many regional theatre productions. Recently she reprised her role as Woman Two for a staged reading of Samm-Art Williams’ Tony-nominated play Home for Project 1 Voice. Maillard served as conceptual and creative producer for the 2005 documentary film Sweet Honey in the Rock: Raise Your Voice! on the PBS series American Masters. Produced and directed by Stanley Nelson, the film chronicled Sweet Honey’s 30th Anniversary year. She also produced the accompanying soundtrack for the film.

Louise Robinson is one of the founding members of the Grammy Award-winning a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock. She is a native New Yorker, studied concert bass for six years and attended the High School of Music and Art. A graduate of Howard University with a BFA, her professional career began at Washington, D.C.’s Arena Stage. Robinson accepted Robert Hooks’ invitation to become a member of the then-new D.C. Black Repertory Company Acting Ensemble. It was out of this theatre company that she, along with Carol Maillard, Bernice Johnson Reagon and Mie, formed the a cappella quartet Sweet Honey in the Rock. Robinson’s colorful career has taken her along many paths, including performances both on and off-Broadway, and in film and studio recording. She has also worn the producer’s hat as she, along with Maillard and Smokey Ronald Stevens, produced A Sho Nuff Variety Revue, a series of performances showcasing some of New York’s finest talent, including Adolph Caesar, Sandra Reeves Phillips and legendary tap dancers Gregory Hines, Avon Long and Joe Attles.

Eli Yamin, Jazz Power Initiative Artistic Director and Co-Founder, is a pianist, composer, singer, producer and educator who has been spreading the joy of jazz through his work for 30 years, including 10 years as founding director of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Middle School Jazz Academy. Yamin tours with his blues band and jazz quartet, has released eight CDs featuring his compositions, published three youth-centered jazz musicals and has performed at The White House, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and over 20 countries as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Department of State. Yamin sincerely believes learning about jazz should feel as creative as playing jazz and consistently shares this experience with students of all ages. He has written a book, So You Want to Sing the Blues, published by Rowman and Littlefield in partnership with the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) and is working towards a doctorate in jazz piano at Stony Brook University (SUNY).

Muse Machine’s Summer Institute for Educators is sponsored by

Ohio Arts Council • Lockwood Family Foundation • The Mary H. Kittredge Fund • The Fred & Alice Wallace Memorial Foundation

Summer Institute for Educators 2019

Identity, Belonging and Sense of Place
July 15-18, 2019
Metropolitan Arts Center

Free for teachers and administrators, Muse Machine’s 2019 summer institute featured teaching artists from internationally acclaimed Ping Chong + Company and the theme Identity, Belonging and Sense of Place. Pre- and post-institute activities were designed to provide rich experiences throughout the year to inform teaching around storytelling, oral histories, cultural heritage and more. Teachers attendees can earn 28 seat hours and/or three University of Dayton credit hours.

Read the 2019 Institute evaluation report

Enjoy these images from the 2019 Institute:


Both the institute and Muse-sponsored, pre- and post-institute curriculum workshops addressed relevant contemporary issues around community and culture. The following essential or guiding questions framed the year’s professional development series.

  • What does it mean to belong? How does a person develop a sense of belonging?
  • What is a sense of place and why do some people feel more connected to their surroundings than others?
  •  How does one’s sense of place impact his/her relationship(s) with their surroundings?
  • If place influences one’s identity, what happens when a person is forced to or must move?

Summer Institute 2019 Artist Bios

Scott Austin currently teaches theater, devising, and English at Edward R. Murrow High school in Brooklyn. He grew up in Syracuse where he began his love of theater, and eventually earned an MA in Educational Theater from NYU. He can be found on stage at the Magnet Theater performing improv or writing with the The Bechdel Group, a NY-based theater organization aimed at writing complex roles for women. He is happy to be working with team of teaching artists with Ping Chong + Company again.

Eric Aviles is an actor, writer, teaching artist and activist based in NYC. He has performed nationally at El Teatro Campesino, Steppenwolf, Goodman, Teatro Vista, The Magic and INTAR.  Through many roles, Eric examined the Latino experience in the U.S. He is the winner of the 2018 NY Innovative Theater Award for “Outstanding Original Full Length Script” and nominee for “Outstanding Solo Performance” for his solo play Where You From? What You Be About?  Eric has more than 15 years of teaching-artist experience working with youth and adults in schools, community centers and prisons.

Ping Chong is a theater director, choreographer and video installation artist. Raised in NYC’s Chinatown, he is a seminal figure in Asian-American arts movement and pioneer in the use of media in theater. His theatrical works bring his unique artistic vision to bear on major historical issues of contemporary times, and focus on bringing unheard voices and under-represented stories to the stage. In 1992, Ping created the first Undesirable Elements production, a series of community-based, oral-history projects, working with non-actors to explore issues of culture and identity. Ping is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two BESSIE awards, two OBIE awards and a 2014 National Medal of Arts.

Ryan Conarro is a devised theater maker, educator, and community engagement facilitator. As PCC’s Artistic Collaborator in Residence and Community Projects Associate, his recent projects include the interdisciplinary performance work ALAXSXA | ALASKA, and community project and podcast CIHA STORIES through ArtPlace America. His work has been seen at the Kennedy Center; La MaMa; National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian and Oregon Contemporary Theatre. Recognitions include: Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award; Juneau Arts & Humanities Council Individual Artist Award; and three Alaska Broadcaster’s Association Goldie Awards for work as a radio journalist and storyteller.

Vaimoana (Moana) Niumeitolu is a painter/muralist, poet, singer, actress and educator. She was born in Nuku’alofa, Tonga; raised in Hawa’ii and Utah and is based in NYC. She has been designing curriculum and facilitating education initiatives all over NYC and has led community-based art programs across the U.S. and internationally. She has directed and written over 20 educational theater productions with youth including, a production being performed at Lincoln Center in New York City last year. She has completed community murals globally, is the founder of a female music and poetry trio and has authored two original plays.

Various artists will interpret the theme of Identity, Belonging and Sense of Place throughout the year, using their art form. Related activities include the following:

Capturing a Sense of Place
A Photography Workshop for Educators
April 2, 4:00-6:30pm
Metropolitan Arts Center

This free workshop is a prelude to the summer institute. Well-known local artist Andy Snow will help us create a story about place and our connection to it through photographs. Click here for information and registration.

Making Art, Engaging Community
Residencies at Two Dayton Schools
Fall/Winter 2019-2020

A companion project to the summer institute will be a unique residency program with Stivers School for the Arts and Ruskin Elementary, led by PCC artists, starting in the fall. Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and local funders, these residencies will explore the themes of identity, belonging and sense of place. Drawing from their significant personal and family experiences, students will be creatively mentored to create and use oral histories to shape original theatrical performances for sharing with the community during the winter of 2020.

Culminating student performances at each school and a public performance at The Loft Theatre will provide opportunities for families and classmates and the community to learn more about our neighborhoods through these oral histories.

Companion Book List

Muse is partnering with the downtown Dayton Metro Library to create a book list for students in grades 3 to 12. The books will be international in scope and appealing to teachers and their students, and emphasize stories of immigrants. Many of our Muse schools, including Stivers and Ruskin, have diverse populations with as many as 13 world languages spoken.

Ping Chong speaks about the power that comes from sharing our stories:

Summer Institute for Educators 2019 Sponsors

  • Jackie
  • The Mary H.
    Kittredge Fund
  • The Fred & Alice
    Wallace Memorial Foundation
  • The Frank M.
    Tait Foundation

Summer Institute for Educators 2018

Read the 2018 Institute evaluation report

Photos from the 2018 Summer Institute for Educators

Jazz calls us to engage with our national identity. It gives us expression to the beauty of democracy and of personal freedom and of choosing to embrace humanity of all types of people. It really is what American democracy is supposed to be.

Wynton Marsalis