Six students who are enrolled in the Jersey City Arts program at Snyder High School pleaded before the board of education for the return of their audio production mentor, Mr. Richard Diaz, and musical instruments they need to complete compositions, prepare for show competitions, videos and portfolios for college applications.
Diaz was transferred to Innovation High School to teach music theory at the beginning of the 2015 school year and students who attended his audio production class at Snyder High School were left without a mentor who specializes in audio, students said.
Currently the audio class is combined with the video production program instructed by Ms. Dori Dunham.
According to Riken Pena, an audio production student of Jersey City Arts, while Dunham is an excellent teacher for video production, the program specific mentorship that Mr. Diaz offered the audio students is lacking in the combined classroom.
At the meeting the students also asked for their necessary equipment to be returned to their classroom to finish their compositions and portfolios.
“Because Mr. Diaz was no longer there, other teachers come into our classrooms in front of us and took our musical instruments form our classrooms. We are still need of these items.” said Pena.
Kyla McBride, another audio production student at Snyder High School, wondered if the media arts opportunities was decreasing because students who take the courses are “people of color and other cultures.”
Aleksander Osenenko, a master audio student of the program, told Hudson County View that he felt “deprived of his education, how they have Mr. Diaz working at Innovation High School as a music theory teacher, something any other music teacher could teach and how we are looked at as numbers and not individuals due to the fact he was removed from us because supposedly there wasn’t enough students.”
Jersey City Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marcia Lyles explained that the audio production class was cut because of the size of attendance.
“The audio production program at this point only has five students enrolled and that was part of the thinking and we did not have anything else for the teacher to teach.”
But based on Dr. Lyles’ conversation with Ms. Yvonne Waller, the principal at Snyder High School, the current media teacher at the schools can also teach the audio production portion.
BOE trustee Gerald Lyons first commended the students for addressing the board and then stated, “We say we are working on more stuff for nontraditional education and this is the nontraditional route. I think this is something we need to consider when we are looking at cuts for funding for programs like yours.”
As a follow up next day, four of the six students were able to meet with Principal Yvonne Waller. Waller had to reschedule her original meeting with the students, causing Pena and Osenenko to miss the meeting since they attend different schools and could not ask for an exemption.
An email from Indygo Williams, another audio production student, with the subject heading, “We are disappointed and frustrated” also expressed their frustration with the teachers who lacked the specific expertise they are looking for.
As a response, Waller promised to return the equipment by Monday, October 19.
As for the audio production program, she vowed to supplement their education by offering them courses in Logic and provide three engineers to assist in their preparation for the NJPAC competitions but the return of Mr. Richard Diaz is unknown.