In April 2014, P.S. 197M, the John B. Russwurm Elementary School in Harlem, held its opening session of “Opera for Beginners” in its school auditorium. This activity is an interactive music program offered by the Harlem Opera Theater, designed to promote literacy through the magic of opera. The opening session featured the voices of gifted classical singers, who presented excerpts from operas by the masters and Negro spirituals written by African-American composers.

The New York Branch of the NAACP adopted the John B. Russwurm Elementary School and has been working with the school principal, Natasha Spann, to bring quality programs such as “Opera for Beginners,” to the school. Gregory Hopkins, artistic director of the Harlem Opera Theater, stated, “If more organizations were to adopt our schools, what a difference that would make in our communities.”