Joy2Learn is focused on and committed to the integration of all facets of the arts into the classroom, grades K-12, with the purpose of enhancing and complementing the education process. The Foundation creates web-based arts education material of the highest quality for students where arts education and discipline foster creative thinking and aid in the comprehension and retention of the core curriculum, such as language arts, social studies, history and math. Furthermore, a strong program that incorporates and integrates the arts into the curriculum can raise school attendance and improve test scores. Accordingly, Joy2Learn enlists world-renowned artists to present their work in unique and compelling ways that can inspire both teachers and their students. These e-Presentations are captured on videos available on the www.Joy2Learn.org website.
Starting in 2000, Joy2Learn, a 501c3 non-profit corporation, developed and spread the word about its media-rich arts education program, which is modeled on Leonard Bernstein’s seminal 1950’s educational television show Omnibus, and incorporates modern, interactive web-based technology. The concept was also vetted with experts in the fields of education technology and arts education. Among those consulted were Professor Elliot Eisner, School of Education, Stanford University; Mike Blakeslee, Associate Executive Director for Programs, National Association for Music Education (MENC); and Professor Sam Reese, University of Illinois School of Music. The overarching recommendation from these experts was to use web-based interactivity with material covering the four art forms, music, dance, theater and visual arts, as well as to focus on the study of artists, artworks, artistic concepts and vocabulary, along with historical context. The goal from the beginning of this innovative concept has been to provide free access to the highest quality arts content for schools everywhere across the United States.
In designing the e-Presentations, the Foundation chose the approach of linking the artistic content with other academic areas. That is, tap dancing can help students learn math, and a discussion and performance of Greek tragedy can capture the imaginations of students in a language arts class, while expanding vocabulary, strengthening writing skills, or improving oral presentations. A discussion about Jazz can further the discussion of race relations and slavery. Furthermore, the interactive elements help students feel they are getting to know the artists and understand the art forms by hearing personal stories and explanations of the technical aspects of the discipline, its evolution or history, and how the artist was inspired to pursue the art form. Joy2Learn received funding from the AT&T Foundation and from the California Department of Education to create two e-Presentations featuring Actor Hector Elizondo and Pianist Alan Gampel. Once completed, the e-Presentations were introduced to several schools in New York and California. Dr. Susan Lowes of Teachers College of Columbia University evaluated the teacher and student response to the Joy2Learn concept across these schools. She reported favorably, encouraging the continuation of the basic program design. During platform and content upgrades and the creation of additional video presentations and resource materials, an advisory group helped shape the content and guide the professional development materials for teachers. These advisors included Sharon Dunn and Don Doyle, directors of arts education in New York City and Los Angeles respectively, and state arts education supervisors Dale Schmid, New Jersey, and Marsha McCaffrey, New Hampshire.
Joy2Learn obtained funding from the Entertainment Industry Foundation, Mattel Corporation and Ford Foundation to create two more e-Presentations with trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis and tap dancer and choreographer Gregory Hines. In 2003, upon completion of these presentations, Joy2Learn commissioned a formative feasibility study to assess the pedagogical quality of the web site, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and Carnegie Corporation. In this study, Dr. Robert Horowitz of Columbia University pointed to the unique quality and usefulness of the materials. He had specific recommendations for Joy2Learn directors that they could apply to teacher lesson plan materials and teacher training. Joy2Learn then received grants from the United Stated Department of Education and the Norris Foundation to create two visual arts e-Presentations that feature painter Elizabeth Murray and sculptor Richard Serra. The funding was also used to create lesson plans and incremental activities.
In 2008, arts education consultant Hollis Headrick worked with the Center for Children and Technology (an affiliate of Bank Street College) to evaluate Joy2Learn and develop a strategic plan for the organization. This was funded by a grant from the Ford Foundation. One outcome of this evaluation resulted in a series of professional development pilot programs for the Burbank School District (CA), directed by the education division of the Los Angeles Music Center, and for the New York City public schools, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, directed by the New York City Department of Education. In 2011, Joy2Learn commissioned a leading New York arts consulting agency to study marketing and distributing web-based presentations. This study led to a partnership with the Kennedy Center. In fact, the Center’s arts education website www.artsedge.kennedy-center.org hosted several Joy2Learn presentations. And, two senior faculty at Lesley University, whose teacher training and certification programs include more than 50,000 K-12 school teachers among their alumni, developed an online course for Lesley alumni about creativity in classrooms, using the Joy2Learn presentations.
From 2016 – 2020, Joy2Learn has worked with the United Federation of Teachers in New York City to offer professional development workshops using the Joy2Learn content. Videos from these workshops are featured on the Joy2Learn website. In 2019 and 2020, Joy2Learn received funding from the Bay and Paul Foundations to develop an online professional development course, Bringing Joy to Learning through Creativity, that has been piloted with New York City teachers. In 2020, Joy2Learn was approved by the New York State Education Department to be an accredited provider of Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) credits. Joy2Learn plans to expand its online professional development program for educators.
Joy2Learn has received national recognition for its pioneering work in the use of technology in education. The George Lucas Foundation featured a successful Joy2Learn program in a documentary that was presented to the U.S. Congress as an early demonstration of how technology could transform education. Joy2Learn’s presentations and lesson plans are also featured on sharemylesson.com, the American Federation of Teachers’ website.
As a small, virtual organization with a Board of Directors who provide volunteer staff and administrative support, Joy2Learn remains committed to its original vision and mission — to integrate arts-based learning throughout K-12 education.