July 8, 2020

George Street Playhouse Receives CARES Funding

CARING CREATIVELY: New Jersey educators participating with teaching artists in a George Street Playhouse professional development program. (Photo by Angela Peletier) 

George Street Playhouse has received a CARES Act economic stabilization grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to create the Digital Humanities Teaching Institute, a virtual professional development program for K-12 humanities teachers.

The New Brunswick theater is one of five NEH CARES Act recipients in New Jersey. This grant supports essential operations at more than 300 cultural institutions across the country, and GSP is one of five theaters in the nation that received this award.

Offered at no cost to participants, GSP’s Digital Humanities Teaching Institute was envisioned in response to the new instructional realities presented by COVID-19 school closures.  Focusing on developing high-quality distance and blended learning instructional models to serve the diverse needs and circumstances of K-12 students, it will provide up to 50 teachers with the technical knowledge, tools, and arts integration strategies to effectively engage and assess student learning.  

“We are all linked together by stories — and as a cultural organization whose mission is to tell the stories of our time, George Street Playhouse is grateful to the National Endowment for the Humanities for this extraordinary opportunity to advance the humanities during this national crisis.  GSP’s Digital Humanities Teaching Institute will provide teachers with dynamic, cost-free professional development to create exceptional digital instruction for their students,” said Jim Jack, director of Education and Community Artistic Programming. “Designed to provide economic assistance to and preserve jobs, this grant enables GSP to continue to employ staff and teaching artists who would otherwise have been furloughed during this time.”

GSP’s Digital Humanities Teaching Institute will feature workshops and videos designed for teachers to understand how to use digital technology for effective instruction, assessment, and engagement; creative arts integration strategies to strengthen lesson impact using arts integration methodologies; approaches to effectively design and integrate SEL (Social Emotional Learning)  into digital units of study; ongoing professional development through
December 2020 to support new instructional needs and challenges for classroom teachers; and the development of humanities digital units of study for elementary, middle, and high school classes that can be customized for educators. These resources will be available free to educators in New Jersey and throughout the country.

George Street Playhouse’s Artist-in-Residence program annually serves 150 classroom teachers and more than 3,500 students across New Jersey.  Anchored in humanities-based instruction, students research the lives and circumstances of individuals and groups wrestling with the complex and conflicting issues of their time.

GSP responded to COVID-19 school closures by shifting all Artist-in-Residence programming in K-12 schools to digital instruction. Using innovative theatre arts integration strategies, GSP teaching artists have effectively used a variety of digital platforms, including Google Classroom, Flipgrid, Edpuzzle, and TikTok to create original plays and musicals with students. By engaging humanities-based instruction through digital theatre arts integration, this spring teachers found significant improvement in student engagement, understanding, and social emotional development.