Angela Fazio, who was a Catholic school principal for 20 years, continues to educate students in Brooklyn and Queens.
As a programs facilitator for Catholic elementary academies and schools, she has made a significant difference in arts programming by introducing Dancing Classrooms, Making Books Sing, Harlem Hip Hop, Sing for Hope and Midori Violin.
Paths to Happiness
“From the beginning of my career, I always felt that the fine and the performing arts are part of a well-rounded education,” says Fazio. “A child should experience the arts because there are so many paths to success and happiness. Children need to take different paths so that they find their right one.”
Fazio currently works with the following schools: Our Lady’s Catholic Academy, SS. Joachim and Anne School, St. Mary Gate Heaven School, St. Joseph Catholic Academy, Resurrection-Ascension, Sacred Heart, East Glendale, and St. Rose of Lima Catholic Academy.
Dancing Classrooms is present in six schools. Otto Cappel, along with showdance champions and Broadway dance couple Pierre Dulaine and Yvonne Marceau, founded the American Ballroom Theater Company in 1984 and established Dancing Classrooms in 1994 as the educational arm of the company.
“At the time I found out about them they were up for an award for having made the documentary Mad Hot Ballroom,” said Fazio. “My mother read about it and said ‘If this wonderful program can be in a public school, why not a Catholic school?’ So, I called them up. I have now had an eight-year professional relationship with them.
“Dancing Classrooms sends teachers into the schools to teach twice a week. They teach fine manners and teamwork. No child is ever left standing without dancing. They also put on a wonderful show for the parents.”
“Many programs in New York City are based in music so, in two schools, we just measured the third graders for violins. They already started to learn the Midori method of violin,” said Fazio, who contacted Lincoln Center to build connections for this initiative.
Through her research, Fazio also discovered the organization Making Books Sing.
“It works with a classroom teacher on literature, and then the students write an original scene so that in terms of the Common Core, we are including reading, we are including writing and in the end, students work with a different teaching artist to write an original song related to the book,” she said. “It goes across the lines and encourages many different skills.”
With 44 years of experience in teaching and administration and a background in vocals and dance, Fazio’s work is immersed in passion and enthusiasm.
Harlem Hip Hop and Sing for Hope are two additional programs. Harlem Hip Hop does a hip hop show for students in grades five-to-eight, and Sing for Hope donates pianos that were used for summer programs in the city. Sing for Hope has also provided piano instruction for students.
“I believe in working with local companies, and it is good because I can meet with them regularly. It is more hands-on, and I can see its development,” said Fazio.
Her office is located at Our Lady’s Catholic Academy, South Ozone Park, but as programs are introduced, she regularly stops in to observe and contribute.
“I felt that the superintendent wanted me to give this a jump to start to make an impact in arts programs and that suited my personality as an educator,” said Fazio. “This keeps me in the company of children. That has been my life … in the company of children and books.”