Author Archives: poisedpen

Got trees?

An outreach program titled “Canopy for the Next Century” is engaging Arizona students in planting trees to raise environmental awareness.

The program provides matching funds for schools to plants trees, host a visiting arborist, memorialize their tree planting with a plaque and develop leadership skills in environmental stewardship.

“Canopy for the Next Century” is presented by the Arizona Centennial Commission & 2012 Foundation in conjunction with the Arizona Community Tree Council — with the support of a $10,000 grant from Salt River Project.

Schools have two options when applying for a grant. They can raise $250 and receive $250 in matching funds to plant two trees, or raise $125 and receive $125 in matching funds to plant a single tree.

Trees will be chosen from a pre-selected tree list, and participating schools receive age-appropriate educational lessons on the proper care and planting of trees. Participating schools must have irrigation and maintenance available on site.

Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Students, teachers and parents can nominate their school through an application process available online at

Lynn Trimble

Image: Arizona State Library


Band camp for teachers

Jazz at Lincoln Center Band Director Academy. Photo: Elizabeth Leitzell.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Band Director Academy comes to Mesa Center for the Arts from Jan. 5 to 7. The program, now in its 12th year, brings band directors together to discuss and learn about jazz education techniques.

Think big band rehearsal techniques, teaching improvisation and rhythm section techniques — all led by some of the country’s foremost jazz educators.

Faculty members include Marcus Printup, educator and trumpeteer for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Also musicians/educators from Northern Illinois University, Michigan State University and Sun Prairie High School in Wisconsin.

The academy emphasizes hands-on learning and techniques that can be immediately applied to the classroom. It includes classes, demo sessions with a student big band, jam sessions, topic discussions and a faculty concert. Even a screeing of the film “Chops,” a documentary about one high school band’s experience with the Essentially Ellington Festival.

Typical class topics include directed listening, voice leading for better harmonic improvisation, transcribing, vocalization and internalizing rhythm in jazz, motivating a young improviser and a cultural approach to teaching improvisation.

All academy events take place at the Mesa Arts Center, located in downtown Mesa at 1 East Main Street. Registration fees have been underwritten by the Boeing Foundation, so the full two-and-a-half day academy costs just $99.

Click here for additional information about this and other education/outreach programs, or to register for the program. Or call the Mesa Arts Center box office at 480-644-6500.

— Lynn Trimble

Schools tackle sexual harassment

Valley teacher using Sanford Harmony Program with her 5th grade students

A recent study by the American Association of University Women reports that 40% of students in grades 7-12 have experienced some form of sexual harassment. One local progam aims to reduce that figure by working with youth before harassing attitudes and behaviors develop.

The “Sanford Harmony Program” at Arizona State University hopes to reduce all forms of student harassment by teaching young boys and girls to interact and engage each other through early intervention in schools.

They’re convinced that one key to reducing sexual harassment is making sure male and female students spend time together rather than becoming segregated into same sex groups. Parents don’t always recognize the value of encouraging friendships with peers of both genders.

“Kids tend to separate by gender in preschool,” according to Bridget Gaertner, an assistant research professor in the ASU School of Social and Family Dynamics, which is home to the Sanford Harmony Program.

Gaertner is also a Gilbert mother of seven children ages one to 20, and says she’s seen children as young as kindergarten-age exhibit harassing behaviors. It grows more common, she notes, by the time children reach the late elementary school years.

But there’s much teachers and parents can do to be proactive, shares Gaertner. Start by assuring that boys and girls have ample time together, which helps them understand, communicate and empathize better with people of all genders.

Model appropriate behaviors in the home. Talk with your children about what is and isn’t appropriate. Suggest your school adopt programs that reduce the likliehood of sexual harassment between students. Encourage your child to establish friendships with same sex and other sex peers.

Avoid teasing your child about opposite sex relationhips, cautions Gaertner. Parents who chide young children about having a boyfriend or girlfriend add gender to the mix in ways that tend to separate and alienate the sexes. “This makes it hard,” reflects Gaertner, “to normalize male/female relationships.”

The “Sanford Harmony Program” has worked with several schools — including community preschools in Central Phoenix and middle schools in the East Valley — to increase and improve positive interactions between male and female students.

Teachers and parents who’d like to learn more about the Sanford Harmony Program can click here for additional information and resources.

— Lynn Trimble

Valley Youth Theatre student scholarships

Valley Youth Theatre performance of the musical Hairspray

Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix launched a scholarship program three years ago to assist young actors, musicians and technical crew members who participate in their productions.

Youth can receive “up to $300 per production toward college.” Valley Youth Theatre is asking members of the community to support the scholarship program with donations of any amount.

“Your contribution,” says producing artistic director Bobb Cooper, “is a great incentive for them to pursue higher education and achieve their personal best.”

“Whether they become attorneys, teachers, doctors or professional entertainers like VYT alumni Chelsea Kane, Emma Stone, Jordin Sparks or Maxx Crumm, college education is crucial,” says Cooper.

Valley Youth Theatre alumnus John Luke Osorio received a check from VYT that paid for all his books for a semester at Grand Canyon University, where he’s pursuing a voice degree while launching his career as a music director.

Osorio caught the theater bug after seeing his first show at the age of 14. Soon he started acting in Valley theater productions. Osorio discovered his love for music directing while interning with Valley Youth Theatre during the summer of 2009.

His first job was serving as music director for a VYT production of “Honk, Jr.” and his most recent was serving as music director for a Greasepaint Youtheatre production of Disney’s “Aladdin, Jr.”

He’s had several gigs in between, including assistant music director for Valley Youth Theatre productions of “Annie” and “Hairspray” — and the Grand Canyon University production of “The Frogs.”

Soo how did Osorio feel about getting the extra support from VYT? “I was ecstatic,” Osorio recalls, “that VYT had yet again given me the chance I needed to succeed in my career of choice.”

To learn more about Valley Youth Theatre scholarships or to make an online donation to the program, visit their website at

— Lynn Trimble

Teacher tea time

I met a longtime librarian from Gilbert during a recent author booksigning event at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, where she was exploring a tall rack of costume-type hats with her adorable granddaughter pictured above in the princess hat that was clearly her favorite.

I hope she’s heard that Changing Hands Bookstore is holding its annual “Teachers’ Tea” this Sunday, Nov. 13 at 2pm. They’re inviting teachers, librarians and educators to the store for “appetizers, wine, tea, sweets, a 20% storewide discount, our recommended fall 2011 booklist, raffle prizes” and more.

The “Teachers’ Tea” is meant to honor teacher contributions to the local community. It’s part of a three-day “Teachers’ Appreciation Sale” inviting teachers to enjoy a 20% storewide savings Nov. 11-13.

Changing Hands Bookstore, a member of Local First Arizona, is located at 6428 S. McClintock Dr. in Tempe. They carry books, t-shirts, jewelry, puppets, holiday ornaments, educational toys, gift baskets and other goodies for folks seeking unique gifts for family, friends and teachers.

You can find Changing Hands Bookstore online at But visit them in person too, because half the fun is trying on all those hats!

— Lynn Trimble

SCC goes international

Scottsdale Community College students and staff who participated last year in an International Education Week fashion show on campus

Scottsdale Community College celebrates “International Education Week” Nov. 14-18 with a diverse assortment of events and activities that are free and open to the public.

“International Education Week,” an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of State, is recognized in colleges across the country. SCC’s “International Education Week” is sponsored by the International Education Program.

Events sheduled at SCC include an “Indo/Pakistani Mock Wedding Ceremony and Henna Tattooing” (Nov. 15 at noon), screening of a Japanese film titled “Departures” (Nov. 16 at 7:30pm) and a panel discussion titled “The Truth About Islam” (Nov. 18 at 6pm).

SCC students and community members can explore education abroad resources, enjoy special food selections from around the world and browse through a special country display in the campus library all week.

Scottsdale Community College is located at 9000 E. Chaparral Rd., just east of the Pima (101) Fwy. For more information, call 480-423-6590 or click here for a complete schedule of events.

— Lynn Trimble

Obama honors Arizona program

Hopi High School student and composer Jordan Lomahoema

Arizona sophomore Jordan Lomahoema of Keams Canyon, Hopi Nation in Arizona was at the White House recently as First Lady Michelle Obama recognized 12 arts and humanities programs that have produced positive outcomes for youth. Each program is part of a larger after-school or out-of-school program.

Lomahoema, a 15-year-old student who attends Hopi High School, was there representing the Grand Canyon Music Festival’s Native American Composer Apprentice Project, one of 471 nominated programs.

Youth who participate in the project “study with professional composers and ensembles, traversing the entire compositional journey” from inspiration and notation to performance and recording of their work.

Lomahoema has been involved with the project since 2010. His first work as an apprentice composer was a two-minute piece he titled “A Darkened Heart,” which “traced the events of the night his mother lost her life in a car accident.”

Grand Canyon Music Festival created its Native American Composer Apprentice Project to “nurture the musical talents of Native American students, to provide them with the tools they need to develop their own compositional voices, and to give them a platform for their voices.”

The project provides “a challenging, empowering artistic experience” for students who are “isolated through geography and marginalized by the dominant culture.” More than 3,000 Hopi and Navajo reservation youth have participated in the project since its inception in 2001.

The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, first presented in 1998, is administered by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. It’s presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Winning programs will receive $10,000 and a year of communications and capacity-building support. Click here to learn more about the 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program, and here to learn more about the Native American Composer Apprentice Project.

— Lynn Trimble