A Better Jamaica and the Southeast Queens Music Education Taskforce (SEQMET) are pleased to present:

 Once upon a time, every student arriving at a New York City public middle school would receive a hard case with an instrument in it, or was pointed to the choral room. That robust music education offering has tragically been replaced by an offering that provides music education for some, and none for others. Join A Better Jamaica and the Southeast Queens Music Education Taskforce (SEQMET) for a discussion of the state of middle school music education here in southeast Queens, and what we can do about it.

Saturday, May 7th – 10:00 am to Noon

Pre-Show Featuring Local Artist and Music Educator Ashley Keiko at 9:30 am

Via Zoom:

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Via YouTube:

Pre-ShowAshley Keiko Chambers – Local Artist and Music Educator
WelcomeGreg Mays – Founder and Executive Director, A Better Jamaica
Host WelcomeGail Lewis – Board Chair, A Better Jamaica
Historical Context – Middle School Music Education in Southeast Queens Over the YearsGail Lewis w/ SEQMET Music Educators – Carl Bartlett, Charles Bartlett and Anne-Marie Hudley-Simmons
FindingsGail Lewis w/ SEQMET New York University Wagner School Capstone Team – Leah Adelson, Brittney Edghill, Katerina Patouri
Response to FindingsGail Lewis w/ New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams
What’s At StakeGail Lewis w/ SEQMET Music Educators – Priscilla Baskerville, Barbara DeBerry, Anne-Marie Hudley-Simmons, Carl Bartlett and Charles Bartlett
Currently Deployed SolutionsGail Lewis w/ Whitfield Coppin, Keith Jordan and Eric Lemon
Envisioning a Music-Filled FutureGail Lewis w/ Anne-Marie Hudley-Simmons
Short-Term SolutionsGail Lewis w/ Creative Arts Team’s Director of Resource Development Chris Tokar
A Retired Principal’s PerspectiveGail Lewis w/ Pat Mitchell – Recently Retired P.S. 48 Principal
Medium/Long-Term SolutionsGail Lewis w/ New York State Senator Leroy Comrie, New York State Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman and New York City Council Member Selvena Brooks-Powers
CloseGreg Mays – Founder and Executive Director – A Better Jamaica

Speaker Adams – Adrienne Eadie Adams is the Speaker of the New York City Council, leading the most diverse and first women-majority Council in city history as the body’s first African American Speaker. She is also the first woman to represent Council District 28, which includes the neighborhoods of Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale Village, and South Ozone Park. In the City Council, Adams previously served as Chair of the Committee on Public Safety and Co-Chair of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus. Prior to serving in the City Council, Speaker Adams served as Chair of Queens Community Board 12, a Trustee of the Queens Public Library, and Co-Chair of the Jamaica NOW Leadership Council. She previously worked as a Corporate Trainer and a Child Development Associate Instructor. A mother of four and grandmother of ten within her loving blended family, Speaker Adams lives in Jamaica with her husband.

Leah Adelson – Lean Adelson is currently a Graduate Apply Research Assistant at the Center for High Impact Philanthropy. She is focusing her research on equitable solutions in the mental health and SUD space in the wake of COVID-19. Prior to graduate school, Leah worked as a Polity Associate at the New York Ctiy Mayor’s Office for Criminal Justice where she worked on key operational criminal justice reform efforts with various City stakeholders. Leah is pursuing her MPA from New York University and earned her BA in History from Yale University.

Charles & Carl Bartlett – The Bartlett Bros. Charles and Carl attended Andrew Jackson H. S. in Queens, and it was at that time, they started their musical training and performances. During such time, as teenagers, they had the distinct honor of performing at the home of legendary big bandleader Count Basie. During one such performance Count Basie presented the Bartlett Bros. with his electric portable Wurlitzer piano.

Over a fifty-year period from Basie’s place to Oprah Winfrey’s party in Miami, the Bartlett Bros. performed for Miles Davis 60th Birthday, Essence Communication, and the wedding receptions of movie producer Spike Lee, Congressman Gregory Meeks and Councilmember I. Daneek Miller to name a few.

Upon graduating with BA and MS degrees from New York University and Hunter College, Charles and Carl respectively started teaching in the New York City public school system. It was during this time that both brothers had the opportunity to teach, mold, and mentor several generations of students. It should be noted that Charles is presently an adjunct professor of musical performance at York College.

It is no surprise that the community minded Bartlett Bros. would be the progenitor of the Bartlett Foundation Inc., which is a 501c3 public charity, whose mission is Enrichment Through the Power of Music for students, seniors, and veterans.

As educators and musicians, Charles and Carl Bartlett, continue their commitment to the belief of Frederick Douglass that, “it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Without a doubt there remains a message in the music.

Priscilla Baskerville – Priscilla Baskerville has an ever-expanding repertoire that reaches from Wagner to Puccini, from Ellington to Anthony Davis. She has appeared in leading opera houses in North and South America and Europe including the Metropolitan Opera, where she has performed the title roles in Verdi’s Aida, Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, and Musetta in Puccini’s La Boheme. Among Miss Baskerville’s successes are concerts with the Napa Valley, North Carolina, San Francisco, Scottish and the Hollywood Bowl Symphonies as well as with Carnegie Hall’s Harlem Renaissance Jazz Orchestra, conducted by Jon Faddis, and the Skitch Henderson Orchestra. Ms. Baskerville has recently retired from the New York City public school system after having combined her still thriving career with teaching in the New York public school system, most recently on the staff at Laguardia High School in New York City where she taught voice and was the director of the Gospel Chorus.

Whitfield Coppin – Whitfield Coppin Jr. is a professional musician, composer, and arranger. He is currently the Minister of Music of the Cambria Heights Community Church, as well as the Director of the Celebration Mass Choir at the St. Albans Congregational Church. He has been a NYCDOE music teacher for over 25 years and holds a Bachelors in Fine Arts from City College; and a Masters In Administration from Touro College. Additionally, he studied music at Queens College as well as Carnegie Hall. In 2002, he co-produced and wrote 7 songs for the CD “Giving My Life” for the 1987 McDonald’s Gospelfest winners, “The Angelic Voices For Christ”. In 2016, The RCA Singers (of the Cambria Heights Community Church) released their CD “He’s God” which was written and produced by Whitfield Coppin. Whitfield believes that educating young minds is a life long commitment. One of his favorite quotes is “A teacher’s purpose is not to create students in his own image, but to develop students who can create their own” (anonymous). However teaching music is extra special. Music creates social cohesion; it speaks to all when words can fail; and wherever you go in the world, it is understood. Whitfield is thankful for all the opportunities that he is given and will continue to share his musical knowledge for years to come.

Barbara Banks DeBerry – Barbara Banks DeBerry, a lifelong resident of southeast Queens and product of the New York City public school system, is a graduate of New York’s High School of Music and Art, York College of the City University of New York (B.A.), and Adelphi University (M.A.). 

She is a retired New York City public school Music educator (2014), having taught in both District 28 (P.S. 48Q, cluster music teacher; P.S. 160Q, cluster music teacher) and District 29 (I.S. 59Q, choral music instructor, 20 years). 

In addition to her teaching career, she served as Choir director, musician, Director of Music at Brooks Memorial United Methodist Church, Jamaica, NY; Music Department Administrator at The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral, Jamaica, NY; and is presently Director of Music, musician at Amity Baptist Church, Jamaica, NY. 

A lover of many genres of music, Barbara has played keyboards and sung background vocals as a member of First Class, a dance band led by her husband, bassist Gary DeBerry, Sr; sung with and provided piano accompaniment for the Voices of Hope, a choir whose mission it was to keep the Spiritual alive; and is a founding member of Chorale LeChateau, Damien Sneed, Artistic Director. 

She is a member of the National Association of Negro Musicians (B-Sharp Queens/Long Island branch President) and The Society, Incorporated (Sisters of the Arts Nassau/Queens/Suffolk chapter Vice-President). Both organizations include in their Missions the encouragement and support of underserved young people and emerging artists. 

Grateful for the gift of music, Barbara believes that every child should have meaningful exposure to, involvement in, and access to the Arts. 

Brittany Edghill – Brittany, a life-long New York and Queens native, is the Program Administratior for the Undergraduate Program at NYU’s SChool of Global Public Health., Having worked in higher education for several years, she enjoys being a resource to students as they embark upon their academic and professional journeys. In addition, she works loosely with faculty members to conduct research and develop undergraduate curriculum. Brittan is currently pursuing her MPA from New York University and she obtained her BS in Community Health from CUNY Hunter.

Anne-Marie Hudley Simmons – Mrs. Hudley Simmons is a distinguished educational administrator with superb leadership abilities and a proven track record of achievement. She is an advocate for the Arts and implementing academic programs with a focus on the humanities and the transfusion of music. She is a development-focused leader who has established strong relationships with members of the community, teachers and students. Mrs. Hudley Simmons holds a Bachelor of Science, Music Education from Chicago Musical College, Roosevelt University; a Master of Science, Education from Queens College; and a Administration/Supervision in Education credential from Fordham University.

Keith Jordan – The incomparable Keith Jordan splits his time between being a fantastic guitar player and an accomplished music educator. When not leading his own band or playing with some of the world’s finest musician’s, Keith is leading high school music efforts — most recently at Francis Lewis High School in Fresh Meadows Queens. Keith holds a B.A. in Music Education from Queens College and a Masters Degree in English Literacy from City College.

Greg Mays – Greg Mays, a self-declared community catalyst, is the founder of the Jamaica-based nonprofit A Better Jamaica, Inc. – a community service organization engaged in activities designed to strengthen the set of southeast Queens, New York neighborhoods known collectively as Jamaica.

A Better Jamaica’s seventeen program initiatives include: Family Movies in the Park;; Classic Film Fridays; Jamaica Reads; Jamaica Solutions; The Jamaica Ball; JAC’s Holiday Music; Jamaica Shoots; The AirTrain Jazz Festival; The Delightful Festival; ABJ’s CASA; The Carver Scholars Program; The Jamaica Dance Festival; SU-CASA; The Saint Albans Craft Walk; Art to the People; and Morning Drum Circle.

Greg was born at Jamaica Hospital, was raised in St. Albans, Queens, attended P.S. 15, and I.S. 59, and was bussed to Bayside High School. Greg holds an undergraduate degree in Accounting from Howard University and an MBA from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business.

Katerina Patouri – Katerina currently works as Senior Manager of Capital Projects & Government Affairs at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), in Fort Greene Brooklyn. She is a first generation immigrant born and raised in Queens who is passionate e about the arts and cultural life of New York City. In her current role, she oversees government fundraising and advocacy on the city and state levels, and manages multi-year capital projects across the campus. Her hope is to continue to increase equity and access to the performing arts, and work to ensure these institutions are civic spaces heavily rooted in their communities. An avid reader and writer, she earned

Chris Tokar – Chris Tokar is the Director of Resource Development at CUNY Creative Arts Team, a $3 million arts-in-education organization that uses the power of drama to catalyze change. She has over 30 years of experience as both an on-staff leader and as a consultant for New York City social service, arts and environmental organizations working to enrich the city and improve the world (Figure Skating in Harlem, NY Youth Symphony, Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corp., World Music Institute, High 5 Tickets to the Arts, the American Symphony Orchestra, Hudson River Park Trust). Chris was a founding board member of ARROW, a grass-roots environmental group in Queens; she helped launch the award-winning literary magazine INSURANCE; and has independently produced performances at Joe’s Pub, Galapagos, Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater, and other venues in downtown NYC and Brooklyn. Chris holds a BA from Hamilton College and an MFA from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Fine Arts at Bard College.
See More from Mr. Greg Mays