Changes ahead for Jessye Norman School of the Arts classes and camp

The spirit of Jessye Norman, who passed away at the age of 74 on Monday, still lives in the...
The spirit of Jessye Norman, who passed away at the age of 74 on Monday, still lives in the halls of her namesake school in Augusta. (Source: WRDW)(WRDW)
Published: Apr. 26, 2020 at 6:36 PM EDT
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Sunday, April 24. 2020

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The Jessye Norman School of the Arts has released a statement on how they're adapting and changing things due to COVID-19.

Executive Director, Gary Dennis, says since in-person classes and rehearsals of all types were canceled on March 16th, faculty, staff, board members, donors, and community leaders met to decide how to cope with the shutdown and to understand it's impact.

Here is the statement:


We re-focused on our mission to provide arts education and re-imagined what that might look like in the context of social distancing.

From a stability standpoint, we have applied for the Payroll Protection Plan, and we are continuing to receive words of support from donors, foundations, and funders giving us confidence that we will meet our future needs.

From the programming standpoint, we finished out our home-school program by immediately converting the remaining classes to an online format.

Next we worked to quickly create a "virtual place" where JNSA students, and now the broader community could come and find art classes and academic support. Most of the classes would be hosted live by staff and faculty who are ready and able to answer questions and connect with students.

The following week, live dance classes and live digital art classes began to appear on the Jessye Norman School Facebook page. In the time since, we've created a full day line-up of live classes including: art, drama, virtual private lessons for violin, beginner piano, voice lessons, beginner guitar lessons and academic support.

We continue to work on creating the GPB partnered "Shots in the Back" podcast series and to provide art support for our friends at the Savannah River Academy and Walton Oaks through interactive online classes.


Lay the Ground Work:

Last week, we pulled together the entire staff and faculty to begin work on creating a clean and organized menu of services that can be easily understood and accessed by anyone interested while maintaining a live presence for student interactions. You will soon be able to access all of our digital programming through our facebook page and our website. We are reaching out to parents to understand and assist with technology limitations to ensure that every student has the opportunity to participate.

Summer Camp:

Our in-person summer camp, will be replaced by a virtual and interactive summer camp.

Camp will still require applications to be submitted and online interviews/auditions. Campers will receive materials for guided projects and will interact with teachers in small online meeting sessions throughout the camp day. This will be made available for pick up at the school at no cost.

Parents will receive camp guides to help them prepare their spaces for the projects and activities. Our Summer Reading and Learning Loss Program will be an integral part of the Summer Camp and a stand alone program to support academic achievement throughout the year. Details on all programming will soon be available on our website, so be sure to apply if you haven't already.

Our Fall After School Program and Events:

We are leaving open the possibility of in-person programming beginning in August, but the decision will be driven by our confidence in the likelihood of keeping our students, staff, and community safe. With your feedback, we will make a decision and announce as soon as possible.

On behalf of all of us here at JNSA, we wish you safety, good health, and happiness as we face this challenge together at a distance.

Gary Dennis,

Executive Director