Stories

Introducing the Early Arts Learning Resource Guide

By Courtney J. Boddie, New Victory Director of Education / School Engagement

New Victory Education works with students across all grades. In 2013, with the addition of $23M to the Education budget specifically for arts education, the NYCDOE launched several new programs, including an arts-based professional development track called Pre-K CREATE which provides professional learning opportunities for early childhood leaders to incorporate dance, music, theater, and visual arts into instruction and the learning environment.

Early Arts Learning School Tool

New Victory is the official theater partner for Pre-K CREATE and has served more than 3,000 Pre-K teachers, and continues to train approximately 80 Pre-K teachers a year—ultimately impacting over 20,000 students across the city.

As New Victory Director of Education, School Engagement, I oversee the Pre-K CREATE partnership that supports teachers with the skills and strategies they need to incorporate the performing arts into their lesson planning and teaching practices.

With NYCDOE schools closing and transitioning to remote learning due to the pandemic, New Victory has developed digital resources to supplant professional development that would have taken place this spring. The “New Victory School Tool™ : Early Arts Learning Resource Guide” includes print materials with ready-to implement, educator-led activities and longitudinal unit plan brainstorms that can be adapted to meet the needs of any learning space, from virtual to in-person. There are also student-centered creativity pages giving opportunities for educators and kids to sing, move, ignite their vivid imagination, bring stories to life and explore emotions. The resource guide is segmented into chapters taking into consideration the Pre-K daily routine. The chapters are:

  • Activating Stories
  • Exploring Emotions
  • Let’s Sing
  • Discovering Movement
  • Sparking Imagination
  • Playing at Home

This last chapter of the guide features a family engagement section specifically geared toward bringing the arts and a sense of play and discovery directly into their home!

To help activate the print materials and demonstrate performing arts activities, New Victory embedded pre-recorded videos in the guide. Featuring New Victory Teaching Artists who specialize in early arts learning, these videos lead viewers through puppetry, clowning and creative drama to supplement the written activities. The video activities are meant for students to follow along, or teachers may choose to use them as professional learning tools in order to incorporate the work into their early learning curricula. With deep appreciation for all educators, New Victory Education is proud to offer these strong resources to the hard working early learning teachers across all of our city’s schools and beyond.

My first entry point into teaching in a school setting was through community-based childcare centers. I started as a floater supporting different classrooms throughout the center, learning from the educators how to support learning for ages six months to four years old. I did not have any previous training as a classroom teacher, but loved working with the kids and enjoyed incorporating theater to the best of my abilities into a wide array of activities. When I changed positions to a new center powered by a well-known early learning company, I was placed in the Universal Pre-K room, supporting a certified teacher to deliver her lessons.

Now, years later, those early teaching experiences serve as a foundation for the school engagement team’s approach to providing Pre-K for All Teacher professional development in performing arts. Through our work with classroom teachers, New Victory helps the City’s youngest students express themselves and expand their creativity.

As a novice early learning teacher and artist, I would have loved to have a resource like the New Victory Early Arts Learning School Tool. While we understand this is a challenging time, it is important to remember how the arts can ignite kids’ imaginations and spark joy in our youngest learners. While we miss the giggles and creative chatter in the theater and in classrooms, we hope that this is a springboard for creativity while learning at home!

Access the Early Arts Learning Resource Guide, as well as our other Educational Materials, by agreeing to our School Tool terms of use.

Headshot of Courtney J. Boddie

Courtney J. Boddie, New Victory Director of Education/School Engagement, oversees the New Victory Education Partnership program and professional development training in the performing arts for teachers. Ms. Boddie was President of the Association of Teaching Artists (ATA) from 2015 to 2017 and is currently on the Board of Directors. Additionally, she serves on the Teaching Artist Committee of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable, the editorial board for the Teaching Artist Journal and is a member of the National Teaching Artist Collective in association with the National Guild for Community Arts Education. She is an adjunct professor at New York University and The New School. Prior to joining The New Victory Theater in 2003, Ms. Boddie was Program Associate for Empire State Partnerships (NYSCA) and a teaching artist for Roundabout Theatre Company. She received her Master’s degree from the Educational Theatre Graduate Program at New York University.

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