Recognized for their excellence in youth arts education, teachers from a high school in Detroit and an elementary school in Ann Arbor are the 2018 DTE Energy Foundation Educators of the Year. Denise Allen, a dance instructor at Detroit’s Martin Luther King, Jr. High School and Yael Rothfeld, a music teacher at Ann Arbor’s Thurston Elementary School were selected through a public nomination process. The awards celebrate excellence in youth arts education, lifting up the importance of the arts in teaching 21st-century knowledge and skills including creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and familiarity with local and global cultures. Allen and Rothfeld recently received their awards at events at their respective schools.

Several of Allen’s students have studied with professional dance companies. She feels the discipline, confidence, and focus instilled in learning the craft has led her students to academic success as well as in other areas of life.

The DTE Energy Foundation sponsors the awards as part of its annual grant support for K-12 education programs operated by the Ann Arbor-based University Musical Society (UMS). “We’re proud to partner with UMS to honor outstanding educators like Denise and Yael,” said DTE Energy Foundation President Lynette Dowler. “It’s so uplifting to witness their dedication to the arts and how they provide their students with experiences in the arts in ways that will inspire them for a lifetime.”

“We are so grateful for the DTE Energy Foundation for recognizing the value of the ar

In 2015, Rothfeld (center, with plaque) launched a successful fundraiser to purchase ukuleles to help teach melody, harmony, singing, improvising and storytelling, also adding depth to the music curriculumat Thurston Elementary. At left is Knut Simonsen, DTE Energy senior vice president of business planning and development, Gas Storage and Pipelines, who presented the award to Rothfeld.

ts in education and for continuing its longstanding support of our K-12 initiatives,” said UMS President Matthew VanBesien. “Exposure to artistic experiences in education helps young people become innovative, collaborative and creative thinkers, as well as compassionate and open-minded individuals.” An independent nonprofit affiliated with the University of Michigan, UMS contributes to a vibrant cultural community by connecting audiences with performing artists worldwide.

Ms. Allen runs one of the few performing arts programs at Detroit Public Schools – also among a handful of dance programs offered for credit at high schools in Southeast Michigan. She organizes after-school rehearsals, special evening and weekend performances and master classes with guest artists, as well as fundraisers that provide students with opportunities to develop leadership skills.

Ms. Rothfeld, a vocal music educator at Thurston Elementary for 15 years, works with students in preschool through fifth grade utilizing a curriculum emphasizing the importance of music worldwide, in the community where her students live and in the life of their school. She organizes regular student performances, enabling them to set and work toward specific goals, and to use music as a powerful tool to communicate around ideas and issues relevant in their everyday lives.

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