Letter: Mazzocchi’s Creative Thinking Is Needed to Address School District Challenges

I am writing to strongly endorse Anthony Mazzocchi’s candidacy for the SOMA Board of Education. I’m a 26-year resident of Maplewood, a piano teacher and writer; I was also a music teacher at Jefferson School. My two sons were educated in our schools.

Among the candidates running, only Tony’s platform calls for “Creativity and Innovation.” And yet it’s only with creative and innovative thinking that we can address the substantial challenges that face our school system.

We all know those challenges, and they are not new. They include:

  • Disproportionate classroom time and energy spent on standardized tests that rob our kids of energized learning.
  • Systemic rigidities that don’t accommodate our kids’ different ways of learning, meaning that many fall through the cracks and don’t get the support they need.
  • And most urgently: an “achievement gap” we’ve been talking about for years, with very little success in changing it.

These are Tony’s priorities. And he understands how a sustained focus on arts learning and creativity can profoundly impact all the challenges described above.

Tony brings not only a talent for fresh, imaginative thinking but also a great deal of informed insight about the research on how arts learning can impact all learning. He brings a wealth of experience; he’s been a teacher, supervisor and administrator in public schools for fifteen years. And he brings passionate commitment: a graduate of the Maplewood/South Orange public schools, he’s totally dedicated to serving the district.

As a performing artist and arts teacher, Tony knows how crucially arts education impacts every area of education. A steady stream of recent research is affirming that robust arts education can raise children’s academic and social competence as well as their capacities for self-expression and teamwork. Truly robust arts education is key to helping close that achievement gap we have been largely ineffective in closing by other means. That’s why, as the district’s Arts Supervisor for three years, Tony was tirelessly proactive in trying to expand and deepen arts learning at every grade level.

But Tony’s vision goes beyond arts education. He is about bringing creative engagement into all areas of learning. He truly believes in conserving the many strengths of our schools and building upon them, with creativity and innovation, to make our school district the crown jewel of our community and the hub of passionately engaged learning that we all want it to be.   I urge you to give him your vote!


Tricia Tunstall,

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