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First, Peace – Now, Music: A new program funded by the Jaffe family brings music to city schools

Los Pleneros de la 21 kicks it up in Milbank Chapel (Photo Credit: Nicole Marenbach)
Los Pleneros de la 21 kicks it up in Milbank Chapel (Photo Credit: Nicole Marenbach)
Trustee Emeritus Elliot Jaffe and his wife, Roslyn, have been key funders of the Teachers College Peace Corps Fellows Program for more than 30 years. Through the program, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers earn master’s degrees at TC while teaching in high-needs New York City public schools. More than 850 of these Jaffe Fellows have become teachers during the program’s 32 years of teacher support and preparation.

Now, inspired by their love for music and movement, the Jaffe family – which includes new TC Trustee Helen Jaffe, daughter-in-law of Elliot and Roslyn – has created the innovative new Jaffe Music and Dance Program for “the world’s greatest audience,” New York City public school students. More specifically, the program brings dance and music directly to schools in which Jaffe Fellows teach.

Roslyn and Elliot Jaffe, taking in the show (Nicole Marenbach)
Roslyn and Elliot Jaffe, taking in the show (Nicole Marenbach)
This spring and fall, the Jaffe family, TC Peace Corps Fellows Program and Lincoln Center Education brought both the Caribbean band Los Pleneros de la 21 and the Blues Heritage Trio to 12 Peace Corps Fellows’ schools.

Curriculum materials created by Lincoln Center Education helped the Fellows to make classroom connections with the performances.

The Jaffe Music and Dance Program emphasizes singing, movement and playing instruments that express students’ cultural identities.

In May of 2017, Peace Corps Fellow Kateri Kranz-Odendahl brought her sixth-grade students to Milbank Chapel at Teachers College for a rousing performance by Los Pleneros de la 21. An appreciative audience that included Elliot, Roslyn and Helen Jaffe and TC President Susan Fuhrman clapped and sang along. The sixth-graders played instruments while their teachers showed off their Caribbean dance moves. Afterward, students and teachers alike lined up to thank the Jaffes for their generosity and commitment to education.

“I felt transported,” one teacher said.

One of her students put it more simply: “This was the best day ever.”

Published Tuesday, Aug 22, 2017