In 2009, a group of Austin, TX educators, philanthropists, parents and civic leaders formed a collective impact initiative called MINDPOP. The project was noble: these leaders shared the belief that when creativity and the arts are used in the classroom, students are more engaged and learning improves.

Today, MINDPOP has blossomed into a nationally-recognized creative learning initiative, providing professional development strategies to teachers and earning accolades and funding from more than 50 arts providers, including a major affirmation from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, which endorsed the program by naming Austin, TX as just the seventh city to participate in its Any Given Child program, which aims to ensure access, equality quality in the creative learning space.


Under the consult of MINDPOP founder Dr. Brent Hasty, mindALIGNED is spearheaded by the Basie, in partnership with leadership from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, Monmouth University, Bob Morrison and Quadrant Arts Education Research, county freeholders and arts councils, teachers, school administrators, and the Monmouth County Department of Education. Since 2016, the Basie has hosted meetings between these individuals and organizations and members of the MINDPOP collective, with the goal of launching a like-minded program for schools and students in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

mindALIGNED is a modern approach whose techniques span across disciplines, brightening the classroom from lesson to lesson, pupil to pupil.

mindALIGNED completed its pilot phase during the 2017-2018 school year at Red Bank Middle School, Middletown Village Elementary School, Park Avenue Elementary School in Freehold Borough, South Toms River Elementary School, George J. Mitchell Elementary School in Little Egg Harbor and Ocean Academy in Bayville.

For 2019-20, the following schools are participating:

  • Freehold Learning Center
  • Park Avenue Elementary (Freehold)
  • Red Bank Middle School
  • Point Road School (Little Silver)
  • Markham Place School (Little Silver)
  • Shrewsbury Borough School
  • Farmingdale Public School
  • Middletown Village Elementary
  • Ocean Avenue Elementary (Middletown)
  • Nut Swamp Elementary (Middletown)
  • River Plaza Elementary (Middletown)
  • South Toms River Elementary
  • East Dover Elementary (Toms River)
  • Beachwood Elementary (Toms River)
  • Walnut Street Elementary (Toms River)
  • Ocean Academy
  • Dr. Gerald H. Woehr Elementary (Plumsted)

Initial data from the pilot year found that teachers report the creative teaching strategies are effective teaching tools. Not only were they effective, teachers were able to implement them immediately and also helped engage their students. Teachers also reported that the professional development increased their knowledge of creative teaching, provided knowledge and ideas of when and how to use creative teaching, and that it expanded their teaching strategies and tools on the whole.

  • 99% of teachers report the creative teaching strategies will help them engage their students
  • 100% of teachers report the Professional Development expanded their teaching strategies
  • 100% of teachers report that the mindALIGNED Professional Development has provided knowledge and ideas for when and how to implement creative teaching strategies
  • 100% of teachers report that the mindALIGNED Professional Development has increased their knowledge of creative teaching
  • 98% of teachers were satisfied with the mindALIGNED PD this year
  • 90% of teachers report integrating the concepts they learned into the classroom
  • 88% reported the Creative Teaching strategies are effective tools they can use immediately
  • 86% of teachers we satisfied with their first year of coaching
  • 97% of teachers say it has provided effective teaching tools for implementation in their classroom

During these formative years, data is being collected and observations made, consistent with the goal of a regional expansion and the creation of cornerstones for arts-engaged communities. Changes in students’ attitudes, engagement and growth will be measured over time to gauge the success of creative teaching and the impact of increased arts education. Like MINDPOP, mindALIGNED’s goals are noble: a re-invigoration of learning, greater engagement and test scores, and a brighter classroom experience for teachers, students and parents alike. By 2030, our goal is for every school district and community in Monmouth and Ocean counties will become mindALIGNED and designated as arts-engaged.

The Count Basie Center for the Arts and its partners are proud to launch mindALIGNED, and look forward to following up with data and information and seeing minds align around creating arts-engaged schools and communities.