Feeling The Beat

Arts, Level Of Support Used To Help Social-Emotional Learning At Ring School

Rudi Andalora is pictured with students at Ring Elementary School.

The drums decorated the stage of Ring Elementary School’s auditorium and the quiet excitement that filled this unique classroom as each student entered the space was contagious.

Moments later, the excitement exploded as Ring students became acquainted with their drum. Booming sounds echoed across the auditorium as well as a few muted giggles, before coming to an impressive halt.

“Last week, we had a goal of saying ‘What’s your name?’ and sending good feelings super fast! Do you remember that goal?” Rudi Andalora asked.

“Yes!” the class responded.

“Alright, let’s warm up our fingers!” said Mr. Andalora.

Retired JPS teacher and Chautauqua Arts Education School Residency Program instructor Rudi Andalora has been working with Ring School students through a partnership with Chautauqua Institution to help them address different emotions using the art of drumming. The program is one of many measures the school and district are using to help address social-emotional learning needs.

The booming sound resumes, but the drumming now becomes secondary, transforming into a mode of communication akin to that of a telephone, or computer keyboard.

Through a drumming residency, entitled Feelin’ the Beat, through Chautauqua Institution’s Arts Education School Residency Program, students are given the chance to express themselves and their emotions through the art of drumming, according to Annette Miller, Ring’s principal.

“The teachers also like the positive interactions the students have with each other, empathy, and turn taking,” Miller said. “If anything sensitive comes up, they are able to see our school counselor.”

Andalora, a retired Jamestown Public Schools teacher, leads the experience with the students and their teacher.

“The goal is to have students recognize the different emotions they experience — happy, sad, angry, and calm,” he said. “And then we work to see what that feels like in our bodies and to communicate how we’re feeling without words.”

“We’re so grateful to Chautauqua for the exciting opportunities they help provide our students,” she said. “We’re even more grateful for their work in helping us address this important need for our students.”

JPS has partnered with Chautauqua for the past eight years, working together to provide a number of exciting arts education offerings to students across the district. The chance to help address social-emotional learning needs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, at Ring and other district schools, is what prompted the creation of curriculum like Feelin’ the Beat, said Suzanne Fassett-Wright, Director of Arts Education at Chautauqua Institution.

“What we’re hearing from teachers is that students are needing more guidance in developing social skills, post-COVID,” Fassett-Wright said. “Music and drumming is an immersive and engaging art form that can develop skills like listening, taking turns, mutual respect and self-expression in a welcoming and authentic way.”


The partnership is only one example of the social-emotional curriculum at Ring. Counselors, psychologists, and social workers at the school are all putting their best foot forward in meeting the needs of Ring students.

Amy Bielinski, school counselor, works individually and with small groups of students on personal and school related issues, such as making friend problem solving, self-eseteem, and learning to identify their feelings.

“I communicate with teachers, parents, and community agencies throughout the school year to ensure student successful,” she said. “My favorite part of being a school counselor is helping others and being part of the team at CC Ring School.”

School psychologist Jate Abatta, meanwhile, works “to foster positive social interactions within the school, and I am called to have presentations with classes about specific SEL topics such as fairness, respect, and equality to name a few.”

“I also work with students in the moment to employ learned coping skills or strategies that have been taught,” he added. “I also teach these strategies to students when necessary.”

Abatta loves when he can see he’s made an impact on a student, citing one specific example.

“I was named after a horse and I told a young student that when I was working with him last year,” he said. “He now calls me ‘Mr. Ed, the talking horse’ whenever he sees me and I absolutely love it because the show is from the 70s and there’s a good chance he’s never seen it, but mostly because he remembered how I was named and jokes around with me about it.”

Most importantly, he noted, the student “also improved his behaviors and is doing phenomenally in school.”

Christina Marsh is one of the three school social workers hired by Jamestown Public Schools this year and splits her time between Ring and Fletcher. The role supports Ring in a number of ways, namely, through the intervention of Social Academic Instructional Groups (SAIG).

“These group themes address a variety of topics that support the core competencies of social-emotional learning; self-management, self-awareness, responsible decision making, social awareness, and relationship skills,” she said. “Another way I support Ring school is by pushing-in to a classroom to teach SEL skills to the entire class. I adapt lessons to teach specific skills like mindful breathing or mindful awareness.”

To Marsh, it goes without saying that working with the students is the best part of her job.

“I consider myself so very fortunate to be able to build relationships and foster connections with students!” she said. “Positive relational connections are such a powerful force in fostering emotional wellbeing in students.”


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