Monthly Archives: March 2016

Opera Outreach Brings “Jack and the Beanstalk” to Area Schools

UM-Flint Music students perform their newest outreach opera: Jack and the Beanstalk

UM-Flint Music students perform their newest outreach opera: Jack and the Beanstalk

The UM-Flint Department of Music is continuing its traveling opera outreach this spring. After the successful productions of The Three Little Pigs and Hansel and Gretel, the department has moved on to John Davies’ Jack and the Beanstalk. The 40-minute opera, set to the music of Gilbert and Sullivan, is fully staged and costumed. Both student performers and teaching artists are involved in bringing the production and music education to area schoolchildren and the community. The leading force of this project is Dr. Joshua May of the music department.


  • Jack: Marada Dahl (Voice Performance, Music Major Sophomore)
  • Giant/Trouble Man: Kevin Starnes (Alumni, Current Grad Student M.A. in Arts Administration)
  • Giant’s Wife: Jhane Perdue (Music Major, Voice Performance Major Freshman)
  • Giant’s Wife: Amanda Rodman (Music Education & Voice Performance Junior)
  • Narrator: Erica Kennedy (Theater & Voice Performance Music Major, Voice, Freshman)
  • Mother: Hannah Wikaryasz (Voice Performance, Music Major Senior)
  • Mother: Vanessa Salisbury (Voice Performance Music Major & Theater Major Freshman)

Teaching Artists:

  • Zachary Smith (Music Education Major, French Horn in Orchestra, Senior)
  • Alesha Akins (Music Education Major, Flute in Orchestra, Senior)
  • Heather Smith (Music Education Major, Voice)
  • Amanda Rodman (Music Education/Voice Performance, Junior)

Jack and the Community

The premiere of Jack and the Beanstalk was held at the Flint Farmers’ Market in fall 2015. Now the students are heading to area schools and community spaces to give free performances and supplemental instruction. Throughout the spring they will visit the Swartz Creek Performing Arts Center, Cook Elementary School, Mason Elementary School, the Flint Public Library, and, in a first time collaboration, the Whiting Auditorium. The May 6th performance at the Flint Public Library is free and open to the public. The school performances will be limited to internal audiences.

Classroom Learning

One of the aims of the opera outreach mission is to connect music to multiple core curriculum disciplines. UM-Flint Music Education students will visit the schools’ classrooms prior to the actual performance to develop lesson plans that teach math, science, reading, theater arts, foreign languages, geography, and storytelling through the elements of music. They will also guide students through a variety of learning activities that engage them with innovative lessons to help prepare them for the opera performance.

Says Karen Salvador, Assistant Professor of Music Education, “This opera outreach provides amazing opportunities for UM-Flint students and children all over Flint. Music education students are gaining real-world teaching experience in Flint classrooms, Flint children are interacting with college students, seeing live opera performed right in their school, and learning more about music in a hands-on, immersive way. Josh’s vision for this outreach is exactly in line with our university’s mission to partner with communities in ways that are meaningful to all parties. I know that this is an experience that will help shape our Collegiate-NAfME students as teachers, and it could also be an inspiration for a child who loves music.”

Supporting Outreach

Opera Outreach is made possible by the James A. Welch Foundation, the Nartel Family Foundation, University Outreach, and the Department of Music. Grants and funding have covered transportation for students, set pieces, costumes, and more.

For information, call 810.762.3377 or visit




UM-Flint Guest Artist: Nihad Dukhan, Ph.D – April 4, 2016

Dr. Nihad Dukhan – UM-Flint Guest Artist

“Blessed Among the Arts: Arabic/Islamic Calligraphy, Its History and Development”

This lecture covers the historical progression of this art and its major artistic leaps starting from the seventh century until modern times. Techniques and styles of this art are described. The lecture also touches on philosophical aspect of this art, and its intimate relationship to Qur’anic writing. You do not need to know Arabic or calligraphy to benefit from this educational session.

  • Date: April 4, 2016
  • Time: 3pm
  • Location: 161 French Hall, UM-Flint
  • Contact:

Nihad Dukhan is a Palestinian-American artist of Arabic/Islamic calligraphy ( He has two master of calligraphy degrees. Professor Dukhan is active in promoting the art of Arabic/Islamic calligraphy through exhibits, lectures and workshops. Dukhan holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and is currently a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Detroit Mercy.

This event is presented with the UM-Flint Muslim Students’ Association.


Joe Reinsel to be Artist in Residence in Baltimore, Maryland

Joe Reinsel of our Visual Arts Program has been selected as an Artist in Residence for the Neighborhood Lights program in Baltimore, Maryland. He’ll partner with his selected neighborhood, Little Italy, to “create an illuminated public art project during ht inaugural Light City Baltimore festival, March 28-April 3, 2016. Get to know more about this talented faculty member:

Joe Reinsel - Assistant Professor in CVA

Joe Reinsel – Assistant Professor of Media Arts

Name: Joseph Reinsel
Title: Assistant Professor of Media Arts
Programs: Art and Art History

Classes I teach: I teach courses in Interactive Art and Design

Professional Descrption: Joe Reinsel uses media, video, and sound to explore ideas about architectural space, time, and touch. His creative work continues to considers interaction and the environment and each work investigates different facets of communication such as video work for public installation, collective storytelling, and interactive exhibitions. He is the recipient of grants from The Flint Public Art Project, International Society of Electronic Arts, Maryland State Arts Council, Baltimore Museum of Art, New York State Council for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, Baltimore City Office of Promotion and the Arts, and University of Michigan among others. Also he has presented work in thirteen countries on four continents at venues such as Museum of Contemporary Art(Chile), Corcoran Gallery of Art, Ars Electronica, Centro Cultural São Paulo (Brazil), Centro Cultural de España(Mexico), ZeroOne, and SIGGRAPH.

Research or Specific Areas of Interest: New Media and Interactive Art/Design

Degree(s)/Education: M.F.A. in Integrated Electronic Arts, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, M.A. in Composition, Radford University

Memberships: College Art Association

How I fell in love with my field: I think I was always creating art work. Being a student in higher education it gave me the chance to understand my development and gave me skills to keep learning as I create new art work. As a professor and professional artist, every time I make a new art work I feel that I learn something from it through the creative action and the conversation that I am having with the medium I use to express my ideas. Learning is crucial in each new piece that I create.

What I hope for students in my field: For students, when you are creating something, whether it is work on art, a design project or even a written paper for a class, each of these efforts are creative acts. Your voice is used in each of them. As you grow and graduate from UM-Flint that voice is your way to navigate yourself in the future. While at UM-Flint, hone your voice and grow it and make it your own.


A photo from Reinsel’s Facebook page shows “a mockup for ‘Il Tartufo Lucent'”

How would you describe your particular Light City project? A community based project that illuminates the community of Little Italy through projection mapped light piece on the facade of St. Leo the Great at the cross streets of Exeter St. and Stiles St. in Baltimore, MD

How did the Little Italy neighborhood inspire or inform your art? I am interested in the stories and people of the neighborhood and I have gather a very large collection of still images that will be incorporated into the project.

In what ways are projects like Neighborhood Lights important for citizens and cities? This event is important to cities is because it creates new vantage points for discussion about communities and cities.

What will become of your work once the festival concludes on April 3? The work will only exist during Light City Baltimore.

What’s next for your as an artist? I am beginning to work on new ideas and concepts for new projects. Please follow my developments at

For more information on the Visual Arts & Art History Programs at UM-Flint, and their talented faculty, visit

UM-Flint Communication Student Invited to White House

UM-Flint Communication Major, Tajhae Barr

UM-Flint Communication Major, Tajhae Barr


“I always knew a Communication major from UM-Flint would make it to the White House. I didn’t think it would happen before they graduated though!” said department chair Marcus Paroske. His student, junior Tajhae Barr, was invited by the White House to attend the annual Women’s History Month reception in Washington, D.C. on March 16, 2016.

He added, “Seriously, it is the chance of a lifetime for Tajhae and we are all very proud of her. Even the loftiest goal is attainable by putting yourself in the right position.”

For Barr, being in the right position began with sending a message to the President one September night while she was studying. She had been feeling the pressure of a new semester and thinking about the President’s time in office coming to an end. “I was telling him that with him getting ready to be gone, I was kind of discouraged. I let him know that even though he will be gone, I still am determined to finish the job. But it just kind of made me feel more empowered with him being there, to actually get it done. The intent was kind of just to vent to the President, to tell him what I was thinking and feeling. I was studying and just thought ‘I’m going to write the President.'”

Barr wrote about starting a non-profit organization, and giving back to her community. Her idea involved creating a safe space for adolescents, and specifically girls, where they could feel safe and learn. The aim would be to “Give back to the girls up here as far as having something to do, keeping them off the streets and keeping their heads in the books. Learning more about their history and where they come from.” Barr compared her vision with her own growing up, where she found safety and solace in skating. But she never expected much to come from her note, “It was just regular writing. I didn’t think it would go far, they get so many emails, so many calls.”

But on March 8, 2016, she received an email from the White House requesting her presence the following week. It wasn’t until she arrived at the event that she even learned the source of her invitation. “They read it in the Social Secretary’s office in the White House. And they picked people based on those who thought they would never be there. They read it and decided to pick me . . . I just wrote it from my heart and pressed send. So I never would have thought it would be read or anything would come from it. The original response I received was general, telling me I could go to for funding, etc. But I never would have thought the letter would have landed in the White House, ever. I didn’t think it was connected to that at all.”

UM-Flint Communication Major Tajhae Barr in Washington, D.C., with an intern for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Tajhae Barr in Washington, D.C., with an intern for the National Conference of State Legislatures.


Barr’s evening at the White House opened with a performance by the Spelman College Glee Club as she and the other women entered the East Room. “The party was starting as soon as we were walking in. The room was so lavish and so grand! It was so much opportunity to just connect and network. I met some amazing women! There were women there that were directors of these big orgs from New York, New Mexico, Florida—it was women from everywhere. Everywhere. (And I may have landed an internship in the White House.)”

The President spoke to the group after being introduced by Sana Amanat, a director and editor at Marvel Comics. His speech focused on gender equality at a global scale, noting “What we’ve seen, even in our own lifetimes, is that change is possible. That’s why we have to keep fighting, because there are battles that still need to be won.”

When asked about hearing the President speak, Barr said, “I was very humbled. I couldn’t even be over excited because I was so honored and humbled to be in his presence. I really loved his speech, how he talked about all the differences that he has made in the Office and appointing more women leaders. It was just really humbling. I can’t even explain it. It was so surreal, because that’s history. His speech only lasted about 15 minutes. After that we got to mix and mingle again. It was just really amazing. I wish I could go back to just relive it.”  Barr was able to shake the President’s hand after he spoke.

Other notable guests of the evening, as recognized by the President, included Cecile Richards, activist and president of Planned Parenthood; Dr. Jennifer Welter, the first female NFL coach; and members of Congress, including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Michelle Obama was not in attendance as she was at South by Southwest speaking about her “Let Girls Learn” initiative.


Tajhae Barr with Congresswoman Candice Miller at the White House


Barr credits her time at UM-Flint for helping her to find the original inspiration to write the White House. “Honestly, this school has made me feel so empowered and like I have the ability to do whatever. When I was a freshman I came into this school with a 2.3 GPA. My freshman year I got a 3.85. This school has been supporting me and having my back since I set foot on campus. Seriously. [UM-Flint] has been very supportive, and I’m not just saying that—I love this school! Even though it’s a big university, it’s still that one-on-one relationship. I didn’t think that I’d even be able to pull off going to D.C. in a day or two, because it was so sudden. I had to come up with money for the flight, the hotel, and the other expenses that came up. I’m honestly amazed and very thankful.”

Barr recognized the university offices that gave or helped her secure the funding needed to travel to the White House, including the Communication program, the Office of Educational Opportunity Initiatives (EOI), Student Affairs, the Women’s Education Center (WEC), the College of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Office, and others.

When asked what impression this experience has left on her, Barr said, “I just want to say that no matter what you are going through and no matter how hard it seems, you have to try your best to stay positive. You never know the next blessing that’s around the corner. You never know. Because I never would have expected this. It doesn’t matter if you get straight As, it doesn’t matter if you are president of this or that, ordinary people do extraordinary things every day, that’s what I’m trying to say. So when you’re feeling down or you’re feeling like ‘this is frustrating, I’m never going to get through this’ you just have to try your best to be positive because you never know. You never, ever know. And your blessing is really in your next breath. Sometimes we take the small things for granted, because I was just huffing and puffing about bills and voila – the White House.”

Watch the President’s National Women’s History Month reception speech:


Bendle High School Students Visit UM-Flint, Downtown to Better Understand Water Crisis

Dr. Marty Kaufman was one of a series of Flint experts and residents who spoke to Bendle High School students about understanding the Flint water crisis.

Dr. Marty Kaufman was one of a series of Flint experts and residents who spoke to Bendle High School students about understanding the Flint water crisis.

UM-Flint’s Secondary Teacher Certificate Program (TCP) has been undergoing a change in focus, moving away from more traditional models to one focused on place-based education. In this new approach, TCP students are spending more time connecting with diverse community populations through community- and school-based fieldwork and projects.

Tiffini Hurley, a current TCP candidate at UM-Flint, is student teaching at Bendle High School where her senior class is reading the novel The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. The book explores struggles of the working class in industrialized cities, including living conditions and work environments. To help her students better connect with the content and themes of the book, Hurley organized a day of activities outside of the classroom focused on “Understanding the Flint Water Crisis.”

When asked about her goals for the day, Hurley said, “I hoped that the students would gain perspective on what a community really looks like in times of hardship and what the need actually is in Flint. By doing this they can enact change in the world around them. Especially since they are about to graduate, I want to send them into the world with a sense of empowerment.”

Danielle De La Mare, one of Hurley’s TCP faculty members at UM-Flint, noted how thrilled she is that the place-based model is already a part of her student’s teaching process: “The work Tiffini has done with her students is nothing short of amazing! Few teachers, let alone student teachers, take on projects this extensive. Hopefully our new place-based teacher education program will inspire more of this in the future.”

Suzanne Knight, another TCP faculty member, added, “Tiffini is our first teacher candidate to do a full place-based project during student teaching. However, these projects are also largely collaborative. It took the efforts of her mentor teacher; two other teachers at Bendle High School (one English, one science); and Leyla Sanker and others in University Outreach.”

Bendle High School students cross campus to sessions focused on understanding the Flint water crisis.

Bendle High School students walk across campus to sessions focused on understanding the Flint water crisis.

The Bendle students arrived at the Northbank Center in downtown Flint early on Friday, March 18. As a full group they listened to Jenny McArdle of the United Way of Genesee County discuss community needs and volunteer efforts as they related to the water crisis response. The high schoolers then split into three groups, organized by topic: Health and Human Impacts, Economic Impacts, and Environment and Infrastructure.

Health and Human Impacts

The first group was led by Ms. Erin Brown from Bendle and Kye Bright of UM-Flint’s University Outreach and AmeriCorps. From the Northbank Center Ballroom they headed to the Innovation Incubator on the building’s second floor.

Bright presented “Exploring the Water Crisis from a Resident’s Perspective,” focusing on politics, media, and the human impact of the situation. The group also discussed responding to the crisis at a neighborhood level.

Mr. Todd Barden of Bendle High School sits with his students for presentations on understanding the Flint water crisis.

Mr. Todd Barden of Bendle High School sits with his students for presentations on understanding the Flint water crisis.

Economic Impacts

Tiffini Hurley led the second group, along with Sara McDonnell of UM-Flint Outreach.

Their first speaker was Janet Van Der Winkle, Executive Director of the Flint River Corridor Alliance (FRCA) and co-owner of Flint’s Tenacity Brewing.

From there the group made their way downtown to speak with local business owners and managers about their experiences and responses to the water crisis. The first stops were Blackstone’s Pub & Grill and 501 Bar & Grill. Each restaurant had their general manager on hand to speak to the students. The group then headed to the newly-opened Local Grocer where Franklin, a co-owner, discussed his business’ perspective on investing in local food systems and Michigan’s economy.

Environment and Infrastructure

Troy Rosencrants speaks to Bendle High School students about using geographic information systems to map lead pipes in Flint, Michigan.

Troy Rosencrants speaks to Bendle High School students about using geographic information systems to map lead pipes in Flint, Michigan.

The third group walked across campus, and the Flint River, to the Department of Earth & Resource Science (ERS) in the Murchie Science Building. They were accompanied by their teachers Mr. Todd Barden and and Ms. Elizabeth Seavey, and Leyla Sanker of UM-Flint Outreach.

While in the ERS department, the students listened to Professor Marty Kaufman speak on lead and Flint’s infrastructure and Troy Rosencrants, Director of the UM-Flint GIS Center, who presented an introduction to geographic information systems and mapping the lead lines in Flint.

Tiffani Hurley, student teacher, and her Economic Impact group on the bus to their next destination

Tiffini Hurley, student teacher, and her Economic Impact group on the bus to their next destination

Late in the morning the students returned to Northbank Center for lunch, reflection, and group discussions. They also made plans for upcoming projects.

When asked for some final thoughts, Hurley said, “The day went better than I could have imagined! There was so much support from the community. Leyla and the Univeristy Outreach were so instrumental in bringing my brain child to life I couldn’t be more grateful. I want to really thank Dr. Knight for pushing me, Dr. De La Mare for teaching me that being in the moment is more valuable than many things, and the teachers at Bendle High School for helping support me in the crazy journey. When we returned to the school there were students coming up to me and thanking me. I am so flattered and humbled by the vulnerability the students have shown, how they’ve embraced this process, and the young men and women I see them becoming.”
A Bendle High School student poses in downtown Flint during a class visit to "Understand the Flint Water Crisis"

A Bendle High School student poses in downtown Flint during a class visit aimed at “Understanding the Flint Water Crisis”

For more information on place-based education at UM-Flint, contact a member of the Secondary Teacher Certificate Program by visiting their website. For information on UM-Flint efforts in the community, contact University Outreach. For information on this specific project, please email Tiffini Hurley at