Engage, Elevate, Empower: Teacher Well-Being & Artistic Social Emotional Learning (SEL) for the Performing Arts Educator


This three-day professional development workshop will provide performing arts educators with: research-based well-being practices to consistently restore teacher & student health and well-being inside and outside of the classroom; teaching methods & strategies to improve student focus, engagement, and artistry; and the rudiments of Artistic Social Emotional Learning and their application to empower teacher and student Identity, Belonging and Agency. 


This Professional Development workshop is recommended for current or former K-12 performing arts teachers or currently enrolled undergraduate/graduate/certificate students in a performing arts education program (pre-service). This workshop is also open to studio performing arts teachers who work with students in K-12 on a regular basis. 

All participants will receive a Certificate of Completion with course hours to be applied towards professional development hours (with administrator approval).

What is Artistic Social Emotional Learning (SEL)? 

Artistic Social Emotional Learning (SEL) intentionally embeds life skill development into artistic processes and practices in service of student empowerment to enrich both artistic fluency and human development. There is not one prescriptive way or technique to embed SEL into arts education. This professional learning experience will help guide educators to better understand their practice and how their classroom can be a space for rich social and emotional growth through the Arts.

Teachers will engage in learning experiences that facilitate a better understanding of their learning culture, develop routines and mindsets to organically build SEL competencies for their students, and build strategies that support student empowerment through the SEL Pillars of Identity, Belonging, and Agency.  

Course Objectives
  • Engage in research-based well-being practices to consistently restore your health and well-being inside and outside of the classroom.  
  • Elevate your teaching methods by learning how to embed specific well-being-based strategies to improve student focus, engagement, and artistry.  
  • Empower your Identity, Belonging, & Agency in your profession. 
  • Embed the rudiments of Artistic Social Emotional Learning into your classroom, studio, or rehearsal. 
Required Materials

Social Emotional Learning – Bundle

Use code SEL10 for an additional 10% discount.


Day 1

9:00 AM – 12:00 PM Restoration of the mind and body through well-being practices; Exploring the science behind our thoughts, words, and intentions; Understanding the brain and states of consciousness.
12:00 – 1:00 PM Lunch 
1:00 – 2:00 PM Creating a Collective Vibration 
2:00 – 3:00 PM Clearing the Clutter: Embedding Well-Being Practices into Your Teaching for Enhanced Student Focus, Engagement, and Artistry 
3:00 – 4:00 PM Roundtable: Identity, Belonging and Agency

Day 2

9:00 AM – 12:00 PMIntroduction to Building Connection and Community through SEL 
12:00 – 1:00 PM Lunch 
1:00 – 2:00 PM Small Group Focus Groups Addressing Specific Concerns 
2:00 – 3:00 PM Developing Strategies for Implementation of Identity, Belonging, and Agency 
3:00 – 4:00 PM Experience SEL in Action (Participant-Led) 

Day 3

Building a plan moving forward: Embedding SEL for Teacher and Student Wellbeing

Ages: 18+

Dates: July 1 – 3, 2024
9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Tuition: See Options Below

Location: Mason Fairfax Campus, deLaski Performing Arts building

Non-Credit: $350

1 Credit, In-State: $572

1 Credit, Out-of-State: $679

Program Faculty

Rita Gigliotti

Performing Arts Teacher Well-Being Presenter
Music for Well-Being Program Course Instructor
Director of Healing Arts Ensemble, George Mason University

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Rita is currently earning her PhD in Music Education and most recently earned a Graduate Certificate in Music for Well-Being in May, 2022. Alongside her studies, Rita is the primary instructor for the Music for Well-Being Program and director of the Healing Arts Ensemble at George Mason University. Rita is also owner and instructor for her private music studio, Melodia, in Oak Hill, VA. Previously, Rita earned a Master of Music in Music Education from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh (2005). Her Master’s thesis entitled Virtual Choral Laboratory focused on creation and application of web-based music technology curriculum and resources for Choral Music Education. She earned her Bachelor of Music in Music Education with a concentration in Voice/ minor in Piano and dual endorsements in Instrumental and Choral Music Education from Seton Hill University Greensburg, Pennsylvania (2001). 

Rita’s current research is centered on Music Teacher Well-Being. Her study, Exploring Music Teacher Well-Being has recently been selected for a full paper presentation at the International Symposium for Music Education in Helsinki, Finland in the Summer of 2024. Rita was honored to share her knowledge on recruitment and retention in secondary choral music education in chapter five of The Music Teacher’s Guide to Recruitment and Retention by Dr. Angela Ammerman. 

Rita has spent over two decades as a teacher in the public school system gaining a wide variety of experiences in K-12 Music Education. Rita most recently served as a high school choral director in Fairfax County Public Schools. During her seventeen-year tenure in FCPS she directed five choirs, mentored and sponsored three student run a cappella groups, developed a non-profit parent booster organization, directed, produced, chaired, and hosted countless county, state, and international music events, concerts, and musical theatre productions and co-sponsored the Tri-M Music Honor Society. Choirs under her tutelage consistently earned superior ratings at state and national adjudications and were regularly invited to participate in a wide variety of  honorable performance including the Virginia Music Educators Association In-Service Conference, Carnegie Hall, and for the Candlelight Processional, narrated by Neil Patrick Harris at Epcot in Walt Disney World. Under Rita’s leadership the South Lakes High School Choral Department was awarded the 2011 American Association for People with Disabilities (AAPD) Inclusion & Diversity in the Arts Award. AAPD is the largest non-profit cross-disability organization in the United States. Rita has been nominated for Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Teacher of the Year and was a finalist for FCPS Special Education Parent Teacher Association Secondary Co-Curricular Teacher of the Year. 

Rita is a professional member of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), Virginia Music Educators Association (VMEA), American Psychology Association (APA),  A Cappella Education Association (AEA), International Symposium for Music Education (ISME), College Music Society (CMS), Chorus America, Sound Health Network (SHN), and Healing Touch Professional Association (HTPA). She is past president of the Fairfax County Choral Directors Association and has served VMEA as the Chorus Representative for District XII and as a member of the Government Relations Committee. Currently she is serving on board for Friends of Mason Music at George Mason University, the College of Visual and Performing Arts Dean’s Strategic Planning Steering Committee, and VA ACDA Region Committee. 

When she’s not making music, studying or teaching Rita loves spending time in nature, doing yoga, cooking, going to the beach, snuggling with her shih- tzu, Holly and hanging out with her supportive and amazing husband, Francesco. Visit www.ritagigliotti.com to learn more.

Dr. Scott Edgar

Artistic SEL Presenter
Associate Professor of Music
Chair of Music, Lake Forest College

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Dr. Scott N. Edgar (he/him) has dedicated his career to highlighting the potential music education and educators have to build life skills students will long after they leave the classroom. As a notable authority on music education and Social Emotional Learning, Dr. Edgar has emerged as the leading researcher, best-selling author, and internationally sought-after clinician on the subject. He is the author of Music Education and Social Emotional Learning: The Heart of Teaching MusicThe ABC’s of My Feelings and Music (co-authored with his wife Stephanie), and editor of Portraits of Music Education and Social Emotional Learning (published through GIA Publications).

Dr. Edgar priorities facilitating spaces where people can explore their identity, build a sense of belonging, and experience agency. He is grateful for the may experiences he has had a Bowling Green State University (B.M.E.), University of Dayton, (M.S.), and the University of Michigan (Ph.D.) to learn from his mentors. He is Associate Professor of Music, Chair of the Department of Music, and Director of Bands at Lake Forest College, Social Emotional Learning Editor for GIA Publications, and serves as Director of Practice and Research for The Center for Arts Education and Social Emotional Learning. Dr. Edgar is also a Music for All Educational Consultant, a Conn-Selmer Educational Clinician, and VH1 Save the Music Foundation Educational Consultant.

Striving for work/life balance, he enjoys grilling, exercising, and spending time with his wife Steph and their son Nathan.


This event and Dr. Edgar’s work are supported by GIA Publications.


  • Please note that group classes are subject to cancellation if minimum enrollment is not reached.
  • Be sure to check our policies and procedures regarding registration, withdrawals, refunds, and more for summer group classes.
  • For-credit option: A tuition refund minus a $125 cancelation fee will be given provided that notice is received by the Mason Community Arts Academy no later than 1 week before the program start date. No refunds will be granted after this date.
  • All students will receive a Welcome Letter via email at least 1 week before the class starts with all necessary details.
  • For additional information, please contact the Academy at academy@gmu.edu.