Susan Griss is a pioneer in the field of arts-in-education. Rooted in her background as a dancer and choreographer, her successful methods of teaching academic curriculum through creative movement have been presented to principals, classroom teachers, teaching artists and pre-service teachers throughout the U.S., and in Slovenia and Israel. Her book, Minds in Motion: A Kinesthetic Approach to Teaching Elementary Curriculum, (Heinemann, 1998) is still widely used, and she is presently working on a new book espousing the use of creative movement across the curriculum.
Ms. Griss teaches graduate courses for early education teachers in the Continuing Education Division at Bank Street College of Education in NYC, and for K-12 teachers throughout the U.S. in the Creative Arts in Learning Program at Lesley University. For 10 years she presented workshops for the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and was a key presenter at the Annual Partners in the Arts Summer Institute in Richmond, VA. As the associate director of Concerted Effort, an arts-in-education organization in the NYS capital region, she is co-founder/co-director of BEYOND PAPER AND PENCIL: Bringing Literacy to Life through the Performing Arts, offering professional development and artist residencies in elementary schools. This program enables participants to use music, dance and poetry in an arts-integrated curriculum to promote student learning.
Ms. Griss has been an innovative teaching artist in the public schools for over twenty-five years, including the Empire State Partnerships Projects from 1998 – 2010. As a leader in professional development and an educational consultant for arts-in-education, she has worked for the Arts Education Office of the NYC Board of Education, for NYSCA’s Empire State Partnerships Summer Institute, and for Ballet Hispanico. She has taught workshops at Columbia Teachers College, Smith College, Vassar, Skidmore, Sarah Lawrence, Eric Jensen’s Learning Brain Expo, the American Dance Guild, and multiple educational and arts institutes throughout the Northeast.
After spending three years as a teaching artist in NYC with Learning to Read Through the Arts, Ms. Griss moved to the Mid-Hudson Valley and has been working continually with students and teachers in schools across the region. For many years Ms. Griss created special movement programs to engage public school children in museum visits at the Edith C. Blum Art Gallery at Bard College, and the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College. She has taught movement workshops to train middle and high school students in mediation and conflict resolution in Dutchess County, worked with middle school students in the Rondout Valley School District integrating the arts in special projects on Ancient Egypt and the Middle Ages, taught a high school unit on The Odyssey through theater and dance, and created special dance projects for children in the Ulster County Hearing Impaired Program.
A graduate of Smith College with a Master’s Degree from NYU, she has danced with the Laura Dean Dance Co., the Vanaver Caravan, Barrunto Dancers and her own Triangle Fire Dance Co.
Photo by Bruce Sager