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A HISTORY OF CES
William Thomas Sly, Joseph Brockett and Ronn Kistler, the
founding directors of Creative Educational Systems (CES) met while working
with the pioneering arts-in-education program at the Performing Arts
Foundation of Long Island (PAF).
Inspired by the groundbreaking techniques developed in teaching
K-12 curriculum through the medium of theatre, they committed themselves
to expanding the scope of using the arts as teaching tools by creating a
new organization dedicated to demonstrating the value of the arts as
vehicles of communication -- in and out of the classroom.
In 1976, at Pilgrim State Hospital in West Brentwood, New York,
we applied arts-in-education principles to the psychiatric community of
doctors, therapists, support personnel and clients, encouraging them to
interact with mutual benefit and to perform theatrically with one
In order to create a
synergism between a group of high school students with whom we were
working and the clients at Pilgrim State, CES designed a program to direct
the energies and talent of these young people to work with the hospital
Later, this group
of young artist-teachers utilized the same communication concepts with
schoolchildren, businesses, youth organizations, non-profit charitable
institutions and government agencies.
CES received a contract from the U.S. Department of Labor Colorado
Balance of State/ CETA program, and, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado,
trained a theatre company of local actors to create a program matching the
needs of the current Southern Colorado high school graduate population
(emphasizing the employment needs of Hispanic and Native American
minorities, economically disadvantaged students and handicapped
individuals) with the growing oil shale industry needs for trained
(including a theatricalization of the mining industry, workshops for
students and CETA counselors, the writing and publishing of training
manuals and the production of two filmed docudramas) toured the state for
two years, involving over 1,000 recent high school graduates and seniors,
enlisting many of them to pursue career training in the Colorado Mountain
College Mine Training Center.
The arts, we discovered, were a highly effective vehicle to reach
the community-at-large with necessary information and to train people in
success orientation toward their life work.
In Southern California, we developed programs using the visual
and performing arts to provide a basis for the restructuring of schools.
The culmination of this work
was assisting a local elementary school with a growing Mexican-American
population to secure half a million dollars in funding from the State of
California to design and develop a model school, which, over the next five
years, achieved California Distinguished School status and was designated
a national Blue Ribbon School.
In 1990, we published our first edition of PLAYMAKING: The Integration of the
Arts in Education, a teachers manual which put together twenty years
of research about how people learn and the practical applications
thereof. (A substantially
revised second edition was published in 1993, under the title of
THE NEW PLAYMAKING: The Latest in the
Integration of the Arts in Education).
This resulted in a Herman Goldman
Foundation grant to bring CESí approach to teaching and learning to New
York City under the fiscal sponsorship of the New York Foundation for the
Arts (NYFA). This grant
allowed CES to distribute hundreds of copies of PLAYMAKING
and offer workshops to
the New York City community of educators and teaching artists in the
communication principles and applications set forth in the book.
Because of participation in one of those workshops, the director of the Staten
Island Children's Museum applied to the Herman Goldman Foundation for a
subsequent grant to enlist CES consultants to re-train her docents to use
the theatre arts in the interpretation of their exhibits.
CES initiated a new series of citywide workshops (through the
NYC United Federation of Teachers) and numerous school districts in the
Metropolitan New York area on the principles of thematic interdisciplinary
curriculum design, the application of Howard Gardnerís Theory of Multiple
Intelligences through the arts, and authentic assessment through theatre
Over the next
several years, CES expanded its role in serving the tri-state areaís
educational community in the integration of the arts in public education
through workshops, in-school arts residencies, on-site consultations and
CES has moved its headquarters to Central New Jersey where it is
providing teacher staff development in arts education, training new
artist-teachers to work with educators in the schools, assisting
communities in integrating the arts into their social fabric and creating
a regional research library in education and the arts.
CES continues to publish
arts-in-education resources for educators at all levels. Based
on its early successes on both the East and West Coasts, CES has expanded
its services to include consultation to individuals, schools and school
districts which are exploring ways of thoroughly integrating the arts into
their curriculum; professional development seminars for educators and
artists, and a line of premier publications for K-8 teachers-practical
classroom application of the principles, processes and techniques of
professional artists adapted to the school environment.
headquarters in East Brunswick, New Jersey, CES directly serves the
Metropolitan New York community, as well as national clients by special