It all started when...
Sharon Daley-Johnson is a native New Yorker, born and raised in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. As a child, Mrs. Daley-Johnson knew she wanted to play the violin after listening to her mother play a recording of Handel’s Messiah every Christmas and Easter as well as her father playing Bert Kaempfert records. After graduating from Manhattan School of Music with a Bachelor’s degree in Violin performance and a Masters in music education, budget cuts prevented her from teaching music. Mrs. Daley-Johnson went into the classroom and found her niche teaching elementary, middle and high school academics as well as music. She has been doing this work for over 20 years. Some of her achievements include a six-year scholarship with the theater program Broadway Junior, which led to one of her students auditioning and getting the lead role in the Broadway production of The Lion King, middle school performances at Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall, 12th grade programs with Cooper Union, Price Waterhouse Cooper and Theater Development Fund-Open Doors Theater Program.
Mrs. Daley-Johnson watched for years as students who were gifted in the arts had no way of getting lessons much less joining a choir, orchestra, band or visual arts program without having to pay a fee, or feel inadequate amongst their more advanced peers.
This is why "Reaching for the Arts” was formed; to ensure that students have a fighting chance, and the option to audition successfully for performing arts high school. Mrs. Daley-Johnson is a product of an exceptional music program, and is compelled to bring about community service and outreach which enables children and their families the opportunity to explore the intricacies and beauty of the arts.
Conductor and soprano, Jessica Punchatz enjoys an active career as a performer, vocal coach, pianist, and educator in New York City and surrounding areas. Ms. Punchatz currently serves as the music teacher and chorus instructor at Riverside School in Greenwich, CT and previously directed the Honor Choir for Greenwich Public Schools in Greenwich, CT and assistant conducted the New York City Master Chorale. She is the Executive Director for Reaching for the Arts, and has also served as the Artistic Director and the Choral Conductor for the Reaching for the Arts Choir.
Punchatz has sung under such visionary conductors such as John Williams, Helmuth Rilling, and Michael Tilson Thomas. She has studied conducting with Joe-Michael Scheibe, Thea Cano, and Joshua Haberman. Ms. Punchatz has sung across the country and in Europe. In 2009 she was invited to sing as part of the Mozart Festival in Salzburg, Austria and studied with esteemed baritone, David Mallis. Ms. Punchatz holds a Master of Music degree in Music Education from Boston University. Her Master's thesis was centered around making music education applicable to all students and closing the gap between "real-world" music and "school" music. Making a quality arts education accessible to all students has been a career focus and a continuing passion for Ms. Punchatz.
In addition to her Master's degree in Music Education, Punchatz earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Music Theater from the University of Miami, graduating summa cum laude. A native of Pennsylvania, she currently resides in Monroe, Connecticut.