Professional Development Initiative

For over 22 years, BAX Youth Arts Education has provided expert instruction in building technical skills in dance, tumbling, and theater with an emphasis on cultivating creative expression. Working with professional performing arts faculty, BAX students develop improvisation, original choreography, and performance skills, working independently and in collaboration. In 2013, we launched a Professional Development Initiative to consolidate the rich work that has taken place at BAX over the years, to champion our teaching artists as expert arts educators, and to better establish opportunities for mentorship and feedback.

Faculty Racial Equity Professional Development Cohort

Since 2017, BAX Faculty’s Racial Equity and Professional Development Cohort has applied a race explicit lens to BAX youth education with the goal of building anti-racist arts education practices and opportunities for racial equity interventions. Annually, the cohort has been made up of four to six faculty members, one of whom is Donna Costello, BAX’s longstanding Education Programs Consultant and Lead Facilitator. In addition to these faculty members, BAX’s Education Director and Manager are members of the cohort. The purpose of the cohort is manifold. First, it is to provide more leadership opportunities to faculty, especially women of color and LGBTQ, and, in doing so, diffuse and collectivize historically hierarchical institutional leadership positions such as the Education Director position. Second, it is to create intentional space for a greater range of voices and perspectives to be heard, seen, and represented, particularly those voices that been historically marginalized. And, ultimately, to makes these efforts in a way that embodies a diversity of race, gender, and artistic discipline. Cohort members are compensated meeting stipends and additionally for each event that they participate in and/or facilitate.

BAX’s Racial Equity Professional Development Cohort includes: Angie Pittman, Ashley Thaxton-Stevenson, Billy Schultz, Dani Criss, Donna Costello, Kelindah Schuster, Lucia Scheckner, and Maira Duarte

Cohort’s Role & Responsibilities

Over the school year (approx. September through June), the cohort participates in organizing meetings approx. every six weeks for two hours per meeting as well as events that further the Education Department’s professional development initiative, in particular its work to establish anti-racist arts education practices. The cohort engages in department advising, decision-making, and provides key support to the following BAX constituents and program efforts:

  • BAX faculty, including cultivating anti-racist teaching/learning and performance practices (including facilitating faculty observations and supportive feedback sessions);
  • Student access to, inclusion to, and experience in BAX classes and programs;
  • Foster “Cultural humility” (i.e. the teaching and learning of different cultural art forms) that grows BAX’s multicultural curriculum;
  • Community-building and family engagement opportunities.
  • Professional development: creating and facilitating workshops and other specialty events (family, Artist Services, Arts in Education) that advance this work institution and community-wide.
  • Partnerships across cultural and community venues that share these inquiries and emerging practices to help others in the field apply this work and illustrates BAX’s leadership in the field.

Cohort presentations and professional development efforts (in-house and public)


  • BAX Faculty Professional Development – Fall 2018 (in-house)
  • BAX Artist Services Day workshop presentation (public)

“Teaching As A Vehicle For Social Justice”
Theater Mitu |12:30-2:00 pm

BAX Youth Education’s Racial Equity Professional Development Cohort will investigate the ways we as teaching artists and/or generative artists, can use our creative practices intentionally as a vehicle for social justice and activism, specifically in addressing racism, sexism, and cissexism. We will be using the unconference model of facilitation and your voice will help define the conversation. This workshop will be participant-driven and grow from the questions and experiences of those who join us.

Workshop Facilitators: Lucia, Billy, Maira


  •  NYC Arts in Education Roundtable Face to Face 2019 Conference presentation (public)

“Redefining Power”
April 24, 2019 from 10:15am-11:45am | City College

Brooklyn Arts Exchange’s “redefining power” workshop invites participants to consider and question manifestations of white supremacist power structures within dominant teaching/learning practices. To explore anti-racist models of teaching and learning, we will adopt an “unconference-model” of facilitation that embodies decentralized practices and resists the historically dominant “power-over” teaching/learning model. We will share questions with which the BAX community is wrestling, including how do we manifest power-within and power-with rather than power-over in class/studio environments. The workshop will be participant driven and grow from the questions and experiences of those who join us. At the close of the workshop, participants will be invited to make connections back to their own teaching environments and facilitators will also introduce a working list of teaching/learning practices that we have cultivated in our ongoing anti-racist arts education efforts at BAX.

Workshop Facilitators: Lucia, Angie, Donna, Dani

More Info

In-house Professional Development Initiative

Piloted from January 2013 to June 2013, the initial project goals were to identify the core values, shared teaching practices, and curricula that create meaningful and progressive arts education programming. In order to do this, we drew upon our proficient teaching artists. Under the facilitation of Donna Costello, BAX Programs Consultant and Professional Development Specialist, modules were established for conducting safe faculty observations and debrief meetings to gauge, articulate, and qualify successful teaching and learning practices. Likewise, group “Enrichment” meetings took place to review specific program disciplines such as Tumbling and outline class objectives. Additionally, senior Faculty were invited to conduct specialty workshops as part of bi-annual faculty meetings. These included workshops on different ways to harness transitions, integrate mixed media learning and teaching techniques,work with student with special needs, and more. As a result of these observations, meetings, and trainings, the Education Department, working closely with Ms. Costello, reassessed and reorganized BAX class schedules, class levels, class descriptions, faculty hiring processes, and orientation practices. A guide was established to communicate to all BAX constituents these core values that inform BAX’s Educational programs: our classes; performance workshops; and seasonal festivals.

Over the 2013-2014 academic year, BAX’s Professional Development Initiative continues with Enrichment meetings around our Theater, Performance Workshop, and Early Childhood programming. We’re also exploring ways to measure class objectives and faculty performance, and to support our families navigate BAX classes and trajectories. Integral to this initiative is an understanding our history and past successes so that we can best inform our current practices and continue to grow.

Donna Costello: BAX Education Programs Consultant and Lead Facilitator; works closely with the Education Department, serves as a liaison between the department & faculty, and facilitates the Faculty Professional Development Initiative, including creating related PD documents. Beyond serving as the BAX Education Programs Consultant and Lead Facilitator, Donna also directs the annual YouthWorks Festival and the Dance Performance Workshop Level I classes and performances.

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    New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature
    NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council
    Council Member Brad Lander
    Jody and John Arnhold
    Bank United
    The Bay and Paul Foundations
    Con Edison
    The Copper Beech Foundation
    Corcoran Cares
    The Robert & Mercedes Eichholz Foundation
    Houlihan Lokey
    M&T Charitable Foundation
    The Pritchard Family Foundation
    Sterling National Bank
    The Beth M. Uffner Arts Fund
    … and our generous individual donors.