Professional Performing Arts School

Professional Performing Arts School

School Description

"Professional Performing Arts School (PPAS) is committed to nurturing each student's passion for the performing arts and thirst for knowledge by providing a safe, supportive community that inspires lifelong learning and a commitment to social change. PPAS was created in 1990 to meet the needs of two groups of students, those who wanted to pursue professional work in the arts and those who wanted to study the arts as an avocation. The curriculum offers students in grades six through twelve a unique opportunity to study the performing arts with working artists. PPAS students follow a daily schedule of rigorous academic work at school each morning and intensive performing arts instruction at professional studios each afternoon. Partnerships include the Ailey School for dance, Harlem School of the Arts for instrumental and vocal music, the Actors Institute for drama and musical theater, and by special arrangement, the School of American Ballet."

Contact Information


Principal: Keith Ryan-

Additional ETA Contact: Chuck Vassallo, Assistant Principal-

Four-Year Plan Goals

Goal One: (Years 1&2) To develop and implement a codified and annual calendar of performances that reflects the work of the drama and musical theater (MT) program, and guarantees all students an opportunity to perform at least once a year.

Goal Two: (Years 1&2) To modify our assessment tools across all performing arts programs so that there is more common language and identifiable school-wide expectations regardless of the major study (dance, drama, musical theater, vocal).  The expectation will be related to students’ professionalism and character while engaged in their major of study.

Goal Three: (Years 3&4) To develop a professional theater experience for PPAS students in all performing arts programs including professional level lighting, sound, set shop, costume shop and staging.

Goal Four: (Years 3&4) To implement arts based units in grades ten, eleven and twelve humanities classes that combine performing arts elements that help enrich understanding of text and/or topics in English Language Arts and social studies topics.


Goal One: In order to provide performance opportunities to all students, performances open to the public for each of the four levels in the drama and musical theater program are integrated into the curriculum as a required activity at each level. ETA support is used to hire the necessary production support (directors, stage managers, technicians, etc.) to mount an increased number of performances in a year while the budget is reorganized and additional partner organization structure is solidified. 

Goal Two: The school identifies common school-wide standards across the majors and modifies assessments so that these common standards are reflected in progress reports and report cards.  This modification is designed to enrich the whole-community environment and promote better communication and shared learning experiences across arts disciplines and academics. The common standards are in the areas of professionalism and character. ETA support is used to pay for professional development from professionals in a variety of arts disciplines around assessment practices and non-cognitive skills in the different disciplines.

Goal Three: Once Goal One was completed and the school was able to absorb the cost of providing a performance opportunity for every student at least once a year, PPAS adopted Goal Three to develop the capacity to assure that the productions are of high quality. They identified two areas that were important regarding the quality of the productions available to all students: the ability for staff and selected students to provide expert support in their use and direction of the technical aspects of the theater spaces and the professional usefulness of its performance spaces and scene shop .  This required additional staff and selected students to be trained in the areas of sound, lighting, set building/design, and costuming. ETA also supported the purchase of tools and equipment to build out the theater scene shop.

Goal Four: The PPAS academic program combines the core subjects of English language arts and social studies into a blocked class called ‘humanities.’  Humanities classes blend ELA and historical topics in order to deepen the understandings of both subjects through the lens of the other. There were several cross-curricular subjects studied in both the humanities and the drama program like Shakespeare and presentation skills.  School leadership observed that the skill the drama teachers bring to the class leads to the best reading of text that their students demonstrate.  Providing training in such skill from a dramatic perspective to the humanities teachers increased their ability to help students to a deeper understanding of both sides of the subjects. ETA support paid for visiting artists to conduct professional development sessions for humanities teachers as well direct instruction in the classroom that supported the unit and provided additional professional development for the teacher.


PPAS worked most closely with the theatre education department at Waterwell on much of the work of all their goals. Other partners include Rosie's Theatre Kids and National Chorale.


Goal One: All Musical Theatre and Drama students will have at least one performance experience per year. Classroom instruction will be aligned with performance needs. PPAS will survey all 12th grade students to determine what options are available to them in the field of performing arts including: schools, conservatories, etc.

Goal Two: PPAS will have an integrated school-wide set of standards across performance majors related to professionalism and character with a common rubric for the standards used by all performing arts instructors.

Goal Three: PPAS productions will have sound and lighting designed specifically for their performing arts needs by PPAS trained staff – sometimes in collaboration with professional designers, and where appropriate, and PPAS trained students using up-to-date equipment.

Goal Four: Participating teachers will have the knowledge of acting/presentational skill and teaching such skill to design and implement arts integration units into their curriculum.

"ETA funds provided equipment that will be used for many years so we do not have to earmark funds for these essential items: tools for shop, staging items, props, furniture, sound and lighting equipment. PD and planning time funded by ETA has become a priority in our budget and in our continued grant writing efforts as we learned the value of the PD and planning time during the 4-year grant period.

Four-Year Plan 2012-2016.