BCD Expanded Arts Program &
Broad Offering of Arts Electives

BCD has built an expanded, more flexible arts curriculum that more deliberately integrates BCD’s program with fine and performing arts resources available throughout our region and community.

The expansion has resulted in exciting changes in the School’s arts programming and the quality of every child’s educational experience for years to come.

The Arts are an integral part of BCD’s curriculum from Kindergarten through Grade 9

What Makes BCD Independent & Distinctive?

Our Expanded Arts Program & Broad Offering of Arts Electives

Sasha Sicurella, an accomplished arts education specialist, artist, teacher, and consultant assumed responsibility as the Coordinator of BCD’s Visual Arts Program. She joined a strong faculty of talented performing and visual artists at BCD. Sasha has taught art to grades PreK-12 in both public and private American school systems (including Berkshire Country Day School from 2004-2007). She is currently the Director of Education at Omi International Arts Center in Ghent, NY, where she has spent ten years developing and implementing public, arts-based programming for people of all ages. Sasha is also the founding director of the I AM: International Foundation, a non-profit organization that works globally to provide opportunities for children to explore identity through art and self-portrait photography.

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Two spacious general art rooms in the former and attractive hay barn on campus have been converted to three medium-specific studios: ceramics, painting and drawing, and mixed media. Other studios on campus include: woodshop and jewelry-making studio, music and digital composition studio, band and recording studio, photography darkroom, and theater workshop studio. BCD has staffed the K-6 Arts program and the Upper School (Grades 7-9) Arts Block electives program with an array of talented art educators as well as area and nationally-recognized artists. Arts staffing has increased 80% this year, and the changes forge new connections for BCD with a number of arts organizations including:

  • Bazaar Productions
  • The Berkshire Fringe
  • I AM: International Foundation
  • IS183 Art School\
  • Omi International Arts Center in Ghent, NY

Students in grades K-6 attend two art classes per week and work in each of the three studios during the course of each year. A comprehensive curriculum frames the learning experiences that are taught by Sasha Sicurella, Ben Evans, and Max Spitzer, as the students explore art, art history, and artists in a studio-based environment with working artists and arts educators. (More information about Ben and Max is included below.) Students in grades 7-9 select two high school-level arts electives that each meet two times per week in one of the studios. New electives are presented each trimester, and the following descriptions provide a sampling of this year’s exciting offerings:

Course Offerings

Music Composition/Songwriting—

Jon Suters, Band Room
This class focuses on the process of writing original music, both instrumental and vocal, and includes study and analysis of classical, jazz, pop, and modern styles of music as well as instrumentation, singing, lyric writing, and recording/producing. A section on digital recording and production is included in the class, but as a means to an end rather than the primary vehicle for composition. Some basic musical skills such as reading, playing an instrument, or singing are helpful but not required.

Sculpture Workshop

Max Spitzer, Mixed Media Studio
This course focuses on the creation of sculptural work throughout the semester. Starting with a collection of short projects and exercises, students are exposed to a variety of sculptural processes and strategies. Materials such as wood, plaster, foam, and found objects will be formed into small and large-scale works. The semester culminates with each student designing and executing an individual project. The studio work is supplemented by frequent discussion of contemporary art and group critique of each student’s work.


Joe Katz, Woodworking/Jewelry Making Studio
This course begins with two individual projects. The first assignment is the creation of a copper candle holder. The assignment involves shearing, cutting, bending and soldering to create unique designs. The second project is the design and construction of pine end tables in which the students make individual design decisions in creating unique pieces. As a class project, a pine log is carved into a totem sculpture.

Introduction to Painting

Tom O’Neil, Painting & Drawing Studio
In this course students explore the fundamental aspects of oil painting and the reasons for making art in general. Starting with a raw wooden panel, they learn how to prepare a surface. Working with line, tone, value, color and texture, students examine how form and technique influence expression.

Upper School Vocal Ensemble

Amy Hilliard, Music Classroom
Do you love to sing? Would you like to learn how to write your own songs? Would you like to explore different styles of vocal music? Students sing jazz, rock, classical, and world music; have opportunities for both solo and ensemble singing, as well as vocal improvisation; and also work on writing and performing their own music.

Yearbook/Graphic Design

Robert Oakes, Graphic Design Lab
A group of Upper School students meet to plan and create this year’s yearbook. Working with BCD’s graphic design and photography resources, students assume leadership for every aspect of the yearbook. This includes planning and organizing the issue; gathering, creating and editing written and visual content; executing page design and layout; and preparing print-ready files for publication.

Basic Ceramics

Ben Evans, Ceramics Studio
An introduction to a variety of forming techniques, from hand building to wheel throwing, is taught in this class. Students experiment with different firing techniques and glazes to create interesting surface decoration. The history of forming and glazing techniques is discussed as each technique is introduced. Pieces are fired throughout the term in both the school’s reduction kilns and an outdoor smoke kiln built by students

Drawing with Confidence

Phil Knoll, Painting & Drawing Studio
In this class, students are taught the basic skills to become proficient in drawing. This includes breaking down a complex object into basic shapes, and successfully rendering an image in proportion. Through the use of graphite, charcoal, and oil pastel, students engage in exercises to gain control over the medium. Still lifes, sketches from nature, and drawings from imagination are created. At the end of the course, there is a group discussion about the work accomplished and structured critiques to help students learn how to discuss and appreciate art.

Clown and Physical Comedy

Sara Katzoff, Theater Classroom
What makes us laugh? Drawing from traditions of commedia Dell’Arte, improvisation, vaudeville, and contemporary archetypes, students explore the universal language of humor, silliness, and absurdity to discover what is most outrageously human in all of us.



  • Students are introduced to Music and Art starting in Preschool. In Music class, the focus is on listening, dancing, simple instrumental work and singing. In Art, students are introduced to a variety of tools and media to explore their own creativity and develop fine motor skills.
  • In Lower School, starting in Kindergarten, students receive two periods a week of both Music and Art. In Music, students are introduced to simple rhythmic concepts and notation, and participate in the Lower School Chorus. Art classes concentrate on personal exploration of expression and mediums. Students learn to paint, draw, sculpt and build using materials from watercolor to clay, with an array of age appropriate mediums. Art class is supplemented by classroom activities that provide a wide variety of art experiences designed to stimulate creativity and encourage personal expression.
  • In Middle School, students not only create but learn the principles of art and how to reflect on artwork; art history is taught peripherally through the study of individual artists, movements in art, slides and videos, and reproductions. The Middle School Music program provides an opportunity for all students to become actively involved in four basic areas of musical experience: creating, performing, listening, and history.
  • In Upper School, students are introduced to a range of advanced artistic mediums such as photography, graphic design, vocal ensemble, Caribbean music, electronic music, acting, and digital filmmaking as part of the Arts Block. Through the Arts Block, students are offered a unique opportunity to broaden their artistic horizons by experimenting in new mediums and to advance areas of personal interest.

Arts Faculty

Ben Evans

Ben Evans has worked at IS183 Art School in Stockbridge, MA for the past seven […]

Amy Hilliard

Amy Hilliard is a talented musician and singer and teaches general music to students in […]

Joe Katz

Joe Katz is an accomplished woodworker, sculptor, and teacher. Joe has over twenty years of […]

Sara Katzoff

Sara Katzoff is the Theater Director and leader of the Theater Program in Grades 1 […]

Robert Oakes

Robert Oakes received a B.A. in English from Montclair State University, where he was awarded the […]

Sasha Sicurella

Sasha Sicurella joins BCD this year as the Coordinator of BCD’s Visual Arts Program and […]

Max Spitzer

Max Spitzer is experienced in a variety of media and processes, from mold making to […]

Jon Suters

Jon Suters is an accomplished musician and teacher, and is well-known throughout the Berkshires and […]

Phil Knoll and Tom O’Neil

Phil Knoll teaches a Drawing class each trimester, and Tom O’Neil teaches a Painting class during the winter […]

Students are introduced to Music and Art starting in Preschool.

BCD’s Visual Arts Program

In Phil Knoll’s Upper School drawing class, Ruby and Michelle, two 9th grade students, are turning an in-class drawing assignment into a full body activity. The girls sprawl across enormous sheets of paper on opposite sides of a long, low table. They make marks with soft pencils, occasionally using their fingers or the heel of their hand to soften the texture of a line. Class has just begun, and an oil painting class (taught by Tom O’Neil) is still cleaning up, but despite the hubbub, the students’ focus never wanes. Meanwhile, across the hall, Ben Evans is teaching an Upper School ceramics class; his students are examining glaze tests for the tableware they’re building. Next door in the mixed media studio, Max Spitzer is displaying the design projects just completed by his sculpture students.

Evans, Spitzer, O’Neil, and Knoll are four of BCD’s newest art teachers. Evans is a local ceramicist and educator, who is drawn to geometry and structure; Spitzer, a recent RISD graduate and Hudson-based sculptor, luthier and teacher, is experienced in a variety of media and processes, from mold making to oil painting to ceramics to woodworking; O’Neil is an internationally-exhibited abstract painter, whose colorful work often arises from the tension between intention and chance; and Knoll creates humorous figurative drawings and paintings—some included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. While two of the four happen to be current parents, it’s their lives as full-time professional artists, and their ability and willingness to examine their own artistic processes alongside students, which make them perfect prototypes for teachers in BCD’s new studio-based arts program.

Head of School Paul Lindenmaier, at the Board of Trustees’ direction, created the program last spring, hoping to expand opportunities for student creativity and enhance what program coordinator Sasha Sicurella describes as their “artistic toolkit.”

Research backs up the school’s decision to examine and refocus its art education. A multitude of independent studies* indicates that studying both fine and performing arts positively affects everything from cognitive reasoning to confidence and character. Participation in art education in the elementary years has even been shown to correlate to higher performance on the SAT test later.

At BCD, says Head of School Paul Lindenmaier, “The goal was to expand the culture of creativity by connecting our program to art and artists in the larger community, and to allow our students to create in well-appointed and materials-rich spaces. Art is a critical tool in achieving BCD’s philosophy of encouraging excellence, creativity, and strong character, while supporting the School’s values of quality, originality, and citizenship.”

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To these ends, Lindenmaier spent much of last spring meeting with local artists and leaders of arts organizations. After selecting local artist and arts educator Sicurella to coordinate the program, Lindenmaier began working with her and facilities director Dan Lee to turn the two art classrooms on the second floor of Furey Hall into three medium-specific studio spaces. On the west side of the building, the old Lower School art room has been converted into a fully-functioning Ceramics Studio, and the larger space on the east side of the building now houses a Drawing & Painting studio and an adjoining Sculpture & Mixed Media studio.

Sicurella is eager to explain the purposeful design of the new program. “It was really important that our faculty were working artists. The students form a different relationship with an artist who’s working alongside them,” as opposed to a more traditional art teacher. It’s also critical that students have agency in shaping their creative projects. One of the ways Sicurella judges the success of the program is to encourage students to create their own assignments. “If they jump to do that, I know it’s working,” she asserts.

Phil Knoll embraces this way of teaching. In his Upper School drawing classes, he offers students a range of techniques such as tracing, sketching basic shapes, and drawing with charcoal and water, and then encourages them to apply this “creative toolkit” to any subjects that engage them. As a result, on one recent winter afternoon students were drawing everything from abstract patterns, to optical illusions, to large-scale portraits of familiar cartoon characters. One seventh grader, tackling a particularly complex drawing, sought Mr. Knoll’s counsel. “I’ll help you sketch out the basic shapes,” he offered, and then leaned over next to the student to discuss what those shapes should be.

What about the younger students? Their curriculum has also been redesigned to allow deep engagement with different ways of making, viewing, and understanding art through working with teaching artists. Ben Evans’ kindergarten students are constructing ceramic houses, which they design, assemble, and glaze with his counsel and support. Sculptor Max Spitzer’s fifth grade students are preparing for an upcoming field to trip MassMOCA by collaborating on their own version of a Sol Lewitt wall drawing. When the fourth graders asked to learn digital animation, Spitzer designed a project that allows the children to work both collaboratively and individually to create characters and backgrounds for the project.

The collaborative, hands-on approach to teaching art reflects Sicurella’s commitment to giving students the tools they need to have a confident relationship with “both the experimental and technical aspects” of making art. “When kids leave after 9th grade at BCD,” she says, “they’ll leave knowing they can problem solve, visualize, and articulate things creatively. They can be engineers or artists!” she exclaims. Eventually, she says, she hopes the curriculum will expand to allow students deeper exploration and integration of multiple media—to make films out of their drawings or design sets for performances, for example.

Ingenuity on display in the upper school drawing class seems to support Sicurella’s prediction, and her hopes. While Michelle continues to refine her complex abstract drawing, Ruby is constructing a masking tape truss to hold her smart phone; she wants to shoot a time lapse video of the large scale portrait she’s creating. “Whatever they draw,” says Knoll, “I tell them to make it theirs. I’m giving them tools I use every day in my own studio.” What will they make with them? That’s their decision. “Draw whatever you want!” he exults. “But whatever you draw—make it your own!”


Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 5.22.52 AMBen Evans has worked at IS183 Art School in Stockbridge, MA for the past seven years as the Ceramics Studio Manager. He has taught Wheel Working, Hand Building, Tile Making, and Slip Casting, and he has been the Summer Camp Ceramic Instructor. Ben received his BFA, majoring in Ceramics, from the State University of New York at New Paltz. His other teaching experience includes work at Morningside Elementary School in Pittsfield, the after-school program at Taconic High School, and as an art club teacher at Richmond Consolidated School. He has also worked as a studio assistant for Michael Brod in Rhinebeck, NY, and Mary Roehm in High Falls, NY, and as a teaching assistant for Jeff Zamek at the Penland School of Crafts in NC.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 5.23.06 AMAmy Hilliard is a talented musician and singer and teaches general music to students in Preschool through Grade 9. Amy has a wealth of experience, including as a music teacher at the elementary and high school level, as founder of the Learning Through Music program, as a song leader with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and as a private voice and piano teacher. She received a Bachelor of Music Degree in Applied Voice and Music Education and a Masters Degree in Music Education from the Eastman School of Music. Music education at BCD begins in Preschool and students in Kindergarten through Grade 6 have classes based on the Orff-Schulwerk approach. Concepts are learned through song, dance, movement, drama, and percussion instruments. Improvisation, composition, and a natural sense of play are encouraged. Starting in Grade 1, students participate in chorus where they learn to cooperate and work as a group towards a common goal. Students in Grades 4 through 6 are members of the Middle School chorus and develop good vocal technique, proper breath support, clear diction, and confident stage presence. Amy also oversees our private instrumental music program.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 5.23.00 AMJoe Katz is an accomplished woodworker, sculptor, and teacher. Joe has over twenty years of experience teaching students in Grades 4 through 12. At BCD, students in Grades 4 through 6 take shop class for one trimester each year. Using real tools is essential in developing minds, muscles, strength, and stamina. A strong emphasis is placed on craftsmanship and proper planning, while always working with safety in mind. In addition to teaching woodworking, Joe has experience working with students in such areas as metalworking, ceramics, jewelry making, and architectural design. Joe has operated his own woodworking and cabinetry business for ten years, was a member of the Peace Corps in both Ethiopia and the Marshall Islands, and then taught at Waldorf schools in Vancouver and New Zealand. He received a B.S. in Industrial Arts Education from Millersville University and a B.A. in Art from Westfield State University.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 6.09.21 AMSara Katzoff is the Theater Director and leader of the Theater Program in Grades 1 through 9. Her new role at BCD forges a new creative partnership for our school as Sara is currently the co-artistic director of Bazaar Productions and The Berkshire Fringe. A theater maker, writer and performer, Sara has spent the last decade devising, developing and curating new work for the stage. Her original plays include The Scissor Tango Variations, The Stalk, R. Stiltskin, and PASSAGE. Sara has worked with students or all ages, elementary through college. She is a founding company member of Kickwheel Ensemble Theater. A graduate of the Dell’Arte International, she also holds a B.A. in performance studies from Bard College at Simon’s Rock. The theater program at BCD exposes students in Grades 1 through 9 to the ancient tradition of live theater through workshops and production. Students in Grades 1 through 3 each take one trimester of theater a year which consists of theater games and exercises increasing self-awareness and introducing them to theatrical concepts. In Grades 4 and 5, students have theater workshops in which they explore acting skills and develop their strengths as individual creative artists. Grade 6 students may participate in a fall production which focuses on developing fundamental performance skills, working as an ensemble, and experiencing the thrill of performance.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 6.05.40 AMRobert Oakes received a B.A. in English from Montclair State University, where he was awarded the McGee Scholarship, the English department’s highest award for excellence in literature studies. He has worked as a writer and editor for North Jersey Newspapers, AAA, Canyon Ranch and Dr. Mark Hyman and has served as an on-call substitute teacher for both BCD and Lenox Public Schools. He has extensive knowledge of numerous graphic art design software and has created websites, newsletters, ads, and invitations. Robert is also a singer/songwriter, performing and recording as part of the Berkshire-based folk duo Oakes and Smith.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 6.05.51 AMSasha Sicurella joins BCD this year as the Coordinator of BCD’s Visual Arts Program and as a K-6 arts instructor. Sasha is an arts education specialist, artist, and consultant. As the Director of Education at Omi International Arts Center in Ghent, NY, Sasha has spent ten years developing and implementing public, arts-based programming for people of all ages. Through her work as the founding director of the I AM: International Foundation, Sasha provides opportunities for children to explore identity through art and self-portrait photography. To date, the I AM: Projects have served more than 1,000 children in 15 countries across 5 continents. Her work has been exhibited in the United States and internationally at museums and art centers in Tel Aviv, Milan, Mumbai, Addis Ababa, Bratislava, Ulan Bator, Sao Paulo, and New York.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 6.06.02 AMMax Spitzer is experienced in a variety of media and processes, from mold making to oil painting to ceramics to woodworking. Max has taught art to students ages 5-13 as the Head Studio Instructor at Omi International Arts Center and at a summer camp in Vermont for four years. He has also worked as an Artist Intern at Salem Art Works in Salem, NY, as a Resident Artist at Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont, as an Artist Assistant to Tom Sachs and Gregory Barsamian, both in NYC, and a Junior Luthier at S.E. Spitzer Guitar Company in Kinderhook, NY. Max attended Brown University, and he received a BFA with Honors from Rhode Island School of Design, where he studied sculpture. Max lives and maintains a studio in Hudson, NY where he also works as a luthier.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 6.06.08 AMJon Suters is an accomplished musician and teacher, and is well-known throughout the Berkshires and beyond as a professional musician and bandleader. Jon plays the piano, guitar, string bass, cello, violin, trombone, saxophone, drumset and percussion, and steel drums. He has performed music with Charles Neville (the Neville Brothers), Ed Mann (Frank Zappa), Eugene Friesen and Paul Halley (the Paul Winter Consort), and has shared the stage with Taj Mahal, Rickie Lee Jones, Tuck and Patti, Martin Sexton, Madeline Peyroux and many others. Jon works with students, beginning in Grade 4, who choose to study a band instrument and participate in the group lessons that are offered once a week. After a year of lessons, students are invited to join the Beginning Band which performs at various concerts throughout the school year.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 6.06.13 AMPhil Knoll teaches a Drawing class each trimester, and Tom O’Neil teaches a Painting class during the winter and spring trimesters. Both have shown their work extensively in solo and group exhibitions, have been included in numerous arts publications, and are current BCD parents. Phil, who has extensive teaching experience, received his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas and an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. Tom, who has previously taught an inspiring Arts Block course at BCD, received a B.S. in Fine Art and Art History from Skidmore College, and he has studied at Rhode Island School of Design.