Arts education is a ‘Joy2Learn’ | ParkRecord.com

Arts education is a ‘Joy2Learn’

Alisha Self, Of the Record staff

In a time when funding for arts education is falling by the wayside, school districts would be remiss to turn down an opportunity to boost learning with free arts programming.

That’s why Park City School District Superintendent Ray Timothy was quick to lend his support to the Joy2Learn Foundation, a web-based program that provides arts education in classrooms at no cost to the district or the community.

Young S. Kim-Epstein, a financial advisor who lives part-time in Deer Valley, contacted Timothy a few months ago about the prospect of hosting a fundraiser for the Joy2Learn Foundation in Park City.

After exploring what it has to offer, Timothy assured Kim-Epstein that he was on board with promoting Joy2Learn locally. "When you look at the program and the fact that it’s free and that it supports our curriculum, it’s a tremendous resource," he says.

Kim-Epstein has coordinated a fundraiser for the Joy2Learn Foundation at the St. Regis Deer Crest Resort on Friday, Sept. 3. The event will feature a wine tasting, casual supper, silent auction and concert by renowned virtuoso pianist Alan Gampel, a co-founder of the foundation. Actor Hector Elizondo, who appeared recently in the film "Valentine’s Day," will emcee the event.

The Joy2Learn Foundation was created in 2000 as a 501(c)(3) educational foundation and an online resource for interdisciplinary teaching through the arts. Its mission is to boost arts education in public schools by providing Internet-based humanities lessons free of charge.

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According to Kim-Epstein, web-based learning has always been the basis of the program. The website, http://www.joy2learn.org , offers a series of video e-Presentations featuring different art forms including theater, piano music, dance, jazz, painting and sculpture.

Each e-Presentation is comprised of video clips hosted by an artist who introduces his or her art form, discusses its history and background, presents personal insights, and performs or demonstrates.

The videos are supported by interactive multi-media materials such as pictures, maps and quiz games. They are designed to help teachers adhere to state curriculum standards while exposing students of all ages to the arts.

Over the past decade, Joy2Learn has spread to schools across the country and around the world, Kim-Epstein says. In 2005, the program received a substantial grant from the United States Department of Education.

Kim-Epstein chose to devote volunteer efforts to raising money and spreading awareness about Joy2Learn because it is a program that she believes in. "It has so much incredible intrinsic value," she says. "Education has always been my passion."

Unlike some nonprofits that she has worked for in the past, Kim-Epstein says that the Joy2Learn Foundation keeps its overhead costs as low as possible so that all proceeds go toward developing its programs and benefiting more students.

All proceeds from the St. Regis fundraiser will be used to add more artists and e-Presentations to Joy2Learn’s offerings, she says, adding that the foundation would like to add artists in fields ranging from art history to graphic design.

"I know we have a tremendous amount of fundraising in Park City, but I think this program has such a great impact on the children," she says.

The fundraiser will start at 6 p.m. with a preview of auction items and wine pouring from Diamond Creek Vineyards and Parallel Napa Valley. At 7 p.m., Hector Elizondo will introduce Alan Gampel, who will perform an intimate concert. A casual supper will be served at 8:15 p.m., followed by the live auction, which will feature artwork by local artists, rare wines and more. The evening will conclude with a chance for guests to meet Gampel and Elizondo.

Gampel has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Orchestre de Paris. He is flying in from Paris specifically for the fundraiser, Kim-Epstein notes. "This is a very rare, special opportunity. It’s something that most towns don’t get a chance to see," she says.

Tickets for the fundraiser are $175 and are available by calling (801) 484-5161 or (310) 488-5295, by emailing ParkCityJoy2Learn@gmail.com or at the door (VISA, MasterCard and personal checks will be accepted). Kim-Epstein hopes to make the fundraiser an annual event to continue to support the program on a local level.

According to Timothy, teachers in the Park City School District have not yet been introduced to the Joy2Learn program, but they will receive information regarding its usefulness as the school year gets underway.

"I can see teachers using this as a resource to bring artists into the classroom and to enhance what they’re already teaching," he says. "It has a lot to offer. There are so many parts teachers can use to enrich current instruction."

The e-Presentations may be used by students working individually in a computer lab or by a teacher with an overhead projector.

The subject matter ties in with the state core curriculum and can be used to supplement lesson plans in visual arts, literacy, math, science and social studies, Timothy says. "I can see applicability at all different grade levels."

He encourages other schools in Park City to utilize the program as well. "The way I perceive it is giving something to this community that’s going to have the overall impact of benefiting our children," he says.

"Park City is very fortunate to have a superintendent who has a great vision that will have far-reaching effects on the future of its students by ardently supporting the Joy2Learn program," Kim-Epstein says.

To find out more about Joy2Learn, log on to http://www.joy2learn.org .