From fundraising to organizing activities to spreading the word about wonderful performances and programs, the Special Music School PTA is an important part of the Kaufman Music Center community. In addition to the support they provide for SMS's amazing teachers, PTA members help restock their class library, pay for AP courses and help with the purchase of new computers. Several of this year's PTA leaders took some time out from their busy schedules to share their thoughts on SMS, and their vision for the school.
Luz Claudio, Member-at-Large
Mother of Elís Carmen Bonilla Claudio (3rd grade, trumpet and piano)
"My goal for SMS is to help enhance the integration of math and science learning with the excellent music curriculum at the school," says Luz.
Luz is a mom and scientist, sometimes both things at the same time. She is a tenured professor in the Department Of Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai School Of Medicine and is the Chief of The Division of International Health. Her main area of research interest is the study of how environmental pollution affects the health of children around the world. She also likes salsa dancing and is always trying to get better at it.
Dara Glanville, Co-VP for Music Volunteering
Mother of Sacha Williams (3rd grade, violin)
Dara says, “My favorite thing about SMS is how happy Sacha is to go to school each day. It's a place where she feels at home and has experienced meaningful friendships.”
Yvonne Lau, VP Treasurer
Mother of Connor Tsui (8th grade, cello & piano) and Tiffany Tsui (4th grade, violin & piano)
“Children are getting a great music education in a safe environment," says Yvonne. "My goal is 100% participation from families in PTA fundraising events.”
Barbara Rellstab, Co-President
Mother of Oliver Ramsdell (1st grade, piano)
"My favorite thing about SMS is that it feels so familiar to me. Like home," says Barbara. "Being from overseas, that's such a treat. As a PTA Leader, my goal is to be a conduit for other families' ideas, energy. and commitment. I would like to contribute to a vibrant and active PTA.
Barbara hails from a Theater Family from Zurich. As a Theater and Musical Theater actress she performed for close to a decade on stages from Zurich to New York. (Secret Off-Broadway Lead: Titania, the Donkey Show, directed by Diane Paulus.) She is the current owner of the first German language daycare in Manhattan and German music/language classes and camps.
Orli Shaham, Co-VP for Fundraising
Mother of Alex (piano) & Nathan (violin), both in 3rd grade.
"I have so many favorite things about SMS, it would take too long to list," says Orli, "but one recurring moment at the school continues to bring tears to my eyes every time, even in our fourth year: at Town Hall meetings, when Sean plays 'Music Lives Forever' and the entire K-8 student, teacher, and parent body sings as one, in beautiful harmony with music written by one of our own. It doesn't get better than that in life."
A professional pianist, Orli has performed with most of the major symphony orchestras in North America as well as many in Europe, Asia and Australia. Driven by a passion to bring classical music to new audiences, Orli maintains an active parallel career as a broadcaster, music writer, lecturer and educator. Her interactive concert series for young children, Baby Got Bach, has become a significant force in music education and engagement for pre-schoolers.
Shai Wosner, Co-VP for Fundraising
Father of Alma (2nd grade, cello)
"If I had to pick just one favorite thing about SMS, it would be seeing the way the kids cheer their classmates during grade concerts," says Shai. "But wait! There's also the choral concert!... And town hall meeting!... and so on and so on."
"As a musician who did not grow up in a musical family, I feel fortunate to have had an all-around musical education from a very early age, including piano, composition and improvisation. I am, therefore, thrilled to be a part of SMS, which nurtures the talents of so many kids who come from both musical and non-musical backgrounds!"
A concert pianist, Shai has performed with numerous major orchestras in North America and Europe, as well as in solo recitals and chamber music around the world and in recordings.