Trenton Education Dance Institute (TEDI)

Member of ANDI – The Association of National Dance Institutes

In 1989, the Trenton Board of Education and The Times of Trenton joined to support a National Dance Institute (NDI) Residency Program in Trenton public schools. The first NDI Trenton Residencies consisted of several weeks of intense “in” and “after” school programs culminating in professional quality performances. Today TEDI offers yearlong, school-based curriculum integrated programs. As of 2011, TEDI and The Children’s Home Society are partnering to keep this resilient youth development program alive and solidify a secure future for TEDI Programs.

Jacques d’Amboise, legendary New York City Ballet dancer, founded National Dance Institute in 1976 in the belief that arts have a unique power to engage children and motivate them towards excellence. NDI has become one of the nation’s most prestigious arts-in-education organizations. The goal of the program is not to train professional dancers but to teach young people that through hard work, rigor, discipline and joy, children can overcome personal challenges and discover their greatest potential.

NDI programs use professional artists and a distinctive combination of dance, performance and curriculum-related educational materials to teach young people the life skills of self-discipline, teamwork, concentration, cooperation, confidence and pride in personal achievement. Reaching across social, ethnic and economic boundaries, it includes children facing physical and emotional challenges.

TEDI offers a tailored curriculum which challenges students’ cognitive and physical capabilities while igniting self-esteem and executive function skills. The programs include:

  • Weekly, in-school classes for 5th graders in two Trenton public elementary schools;
  • “First Team” classes for TEDI kindergarten students;
  • After-school SWAT Team (Scholarship for the Willing, Achieving & Talented) program for selected TEDI 5th graders;
  • Celebration Team Scholarship Program for 6th – 10th grade TEDI alumni;
  • TEDI Alumni Association for program graduates.

Each May, the TEDI program presents its Event of the Year with live performances for school, family and community audiences. If you have a condition or disability that requires special accessibility arrangements in order to attend a performance, please contact us in advance at 609-695-6274.

TEDI inspires students to achieve both as individuals and group members.
TEDI changes lives… one child at a time.

The Trenton Education Dance Institute (TEDI) is dedicated to providing all TEDI patrons and students, including those who need accessible services, with a welcoming and accessible environment in which to enjoy the arts. Contact Sarah Stecker ( or Kayla James ( at least two weeks in advance of an event to request assistance for accessibility needs related to disabilities. Please fill out the form below to ensure we can meet all of your needs.

TEDI Accessibility Assistance Form

We are here to help! Our goal is to ensure everyone can have access without barriers. Please complete the following form at least two weeks in advance of an event. Sarah Stecker, TEDI ADA Coordinator, or Kayla James, TEDI Artistic Director, will contact you for follow up.
MM slash DD slash YYYY

TEDI Thanks the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation

The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation recently made more than $5 million in grants which served to acknowledge long-standing partners and collaborators, support new partners who are driving racial equity and justice, and respond to the real-time issues and crises facing people across the State of New Jersey. TEDI is the grateful recipient of over $32,000 in funding from the Dodge Foundation!

“We have really worked hard to improve our offerings within our programming, but also expanded to include creating a stronger community within the school, as well as disability awareness, improved accessibility access, and purposeful outreach (formation of TEDI’s new ADA Board and beyond) for us to have deep understanding of the people with disabilities.” -Sarah Stecker, Grants & External Relations Coordinator, TEDI’s ADA Coordinator

TEDI will begin its 34th year in the Trenton Public School District this October.

TEDI Staff
Kayla James, Artistic Director
John Wiliams, Music Director

CHS Staff
Sarah Stecker, Grants & External Relations Coordinator, TEDI’s ADA Coordinator

TEDI is an Associate of the National Dance Institute.

Logo for Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation


Trenton Education Dance Institute (TEDI) reaches approximately 200 Trenton Public School District students from Kindergarten through Grade 10 with in-school and after-school dance classes, journal writing, mid-year demonstrations, and performances including five Event of the Year culminating performances. Dedicated to access and full participation, every Grade 5 student at Mott and Robeson Elementary Schools dances in weekly TEDI classes and scheduled performances. The TEDI Event of the Year is a great source of community engagement and pride.

A survey of 2018-2019 TEDI program participants showed the following outcomes:

  • 83% of TEDI students agreed that their teachers cared about them

  • 81% of TEDI students agreed that they complete their homework

  • 81% of TEDI students agreed that their attendance at school was good

  • 75% of TEDI students agreed they had good study skills

  • 73% of TEDI students described themselves as happy

It started around a table in 1989, after 13 years of success for the National Dance Institute (NDI), The Times publisher Richard Bilotti invited NDI founder and principal dancer with the New York City Ballet Jacques d’Amboise to meet a group of city and school district leaders in Trenton to discuss the possibility of a Residency program for Trenton youth. Joining Richard and Jacques were Michael Newhouse, General Manager of The Times; Ed Meara, Executive Director of the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce; a representative of the Mayor’s office; and Carol Belt, Art Resource Specialist for Trenton Schools on behalf of Superintendent Crosby Copeland. Jacques understood that the arts have a unique ability to engage children and motivate them toward excellence. He captivated the room with stories of NDI, and the group was inspired to begin a journey that has changed the lives of thousands of children in Trenton over these 25 years.

Two fifth grade classes were selected to pioneer the NDI residency program in Trenton; one from Franklin School and one from Grant School. Superintendent Copeland, Assistant Superintendent Pat Maffei, Executive Directors Nicholas Burke and Julie Dixon Thomas, school principals, educators, parents, and community volunteers all worked together to bring the idea of Trenton’s first NDI Residency to life. For two weeks, students rehearsed in the auditorium of the Board of Education building, learning first hand from Jacques d’Amboise, Ellen Weinsten, Kay Gayner and Jerry Korman. The culmination of this effort was the performance of “Fat City”. The dancers performed 13 shows on stage at the Trenton Central High auditorium. This first production was such a success that it was barely over when plans began to unfold for the following year’s Residency. The following years took the Residency and its vibrant curriculum to other schools in Trenton, helping hundreds of children develop self-esteem, discipline, and an appreciation for hard work.

In 1992, the NDI Residency program became Trenton Education Dance Institute (TEDI) and its first officers Richard Bilotti (President), Dot Albert (Vice President), Carol Belt (Secretary) and Nicholas Burke (Treasurer) assembled a Board of Trustees dedicated to the mission of teaching the art and life skills of dance to students in Trenton Public Schools. TEDI has had a series of talented Artistic Directors, each dedicated to the program’s mission and its NDI pedagogy, advancing the direction of the program, and nurturing it from its initial 3-week residencies to what is now a full year in-school program. TEDI encourages the participation of all students, including those with special needs who begin and progress at their own pace. TEDI’s former Artistic Director of thirteen years, Dufftin Garcia strengthened the program’s lasting impact on students as he further developed TEDI’s curriculum of advanced classes. Following participation in the core in-school program, selected TEDI students are offered an opportunity to attend advanced after-school classes as members of SWAT (Scholarship for the Willing, Achieving and Talented) Team, and 6th–10th graders can audition for the TEDI Celebration Team which continues to build skill and discipline.

Each year, the TEDI Artistic Team selects a theme with careful consideration of curricular connections and ties to the NJ State Standards and District Ends Policies. Students keep written journals translating movement, feelings and emotions to words. The success of TEDI as an in-school program is supported by the open dialogue between the TEDI Artistic Director and teachers, ensuring to incorporate other areas of study such as math, geography or science into TEDI classes to reinforce educational concepts.

For many years, TEDI received major funding from The Times and the Trenton Public School District. From 1998 to 2006, former Superintendent James Lytle understood and recognized the importance of the arts for students and their healthy development, and was able to provide significant TEDI funding.

Due to the economic downturn, TEDI’s funding was cut over recent years, and TEDI’s board sought new partnerships to keep the momentum going. In 2011, TEDI joined with The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey (CHSofNJ). By the determination of two committed boards and CHSofNJ staff members Dolores Ijames-Bryant (Director of School-Based Programs) and Louise Shabazz (Administrator of School-Based Programs), the two organizational cultures have blended into one cohesive unit preparing TEDI for continued success for the students of Trenton.

Today, TEDI enjoys strong support from Trenton Public Schools Interim Superintendent Lucy Feria and her leadership team, as well as the current school board. TEDI’s Interim Artistic Director Yolanda Drislane has plans to further enrich the NDI pedagogy with the incorporation of increased connections to core standards in the classrooms. This year’s talented team of staff, production team, and volunteers, led by Drislane, is already preparing to launch TEDI into another year of energy, creativity, learning opportunities, achievement and a lifetime impact on Trenton’s youth.

The future goal of TEDI’s partnership with CHS of NJ will be to expand the TEDI experience allowing even more students to continue with the program for more than one full year. The lengthened exposure to TEDI with its educational components and positive experiences will ensure more lasting developmental outcomes for TEDI participants.

TEDI could not be the ground-breaking program that it is today if not for its supporters throughout the years. As we celebrate the 25 year journey of TEDI, we thank Jacques d’Amboise for planting a seed that has grown to touch the lives of so many in the Greater Trenton area. We also thank the professionals and volunteers who have helped shape TEDI into the program it is today, the talented children who dedicate so much of their time to TEDI, and the thousands of community members who show their support of the arts and Trenton youth by attending TEDI performances.

As we celebrate the continuing journey of TEDI, we thank Jacques d’Amboise for planting a seed that has grown to touch the lives…

  • Artistic Director: Kayla James, of Hamilton, NJ has been dancing since she was ten years old. She studied at Rider University, earning her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Sports Management and was a part of the Rider University Dance Ensemble. She trained under the direction of Ilana Clyde, Dr. Kim Vaccaro, and Kelly Rech-Astbury in several styles including ballet, pointe, jazz, musical theatre, tap, hip hop, and contemporary. Kayla’s training led her to several opportunities including Nottingham High Schools dance team, Rider Dance Ensemble, and Groove National Dance Competition. Since then, she has had the opportunity to grow into a diversified instructor and choreographer. She takes great pride in being able to continue to be a dance educator by using a philosophy built up with strong technique, age appropriateness, fitness elements, dance history, and most importantly, self-confidence. Kayla’s choreography has been seen on national and international platforms by dance studios, independent soloists, and gymnasts. Kayla has a demonstrated passion for her students, and hopes to inspire them to learn skills to help them succeed on and off the dance floor.
  • TEDI PROGRAM SUPERVISOR: LaToya Kenn’i James, of Ewing, NJis the Owner and Artistic Director of Dream Makers Dance Studio located in central New Jersey. Since 2012, LaToya has been training male and female students between the ages of 2-18, some of which have gone on to tour nationally with Debbie Allen and Mariah Carey. As Dream Maker’s finest, these students went on to be featured in national and international commercials as well as dance print advertisements. As a dancer, instructor, performer, choreographer and so much more, LaToya also enjoys providing dance instruction to the Trenton Education Dance Institute (TEDI), she has worked for us and already knows the TEDI program very well.

LaToya  is a graduate of Howard University in Washington, DC, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications. LaToya studied Dance, Television Production, Radio/TV/Film, and has performed in dance and theatre for over 23 years. LaToya has been honored and awarded the Joint Legislative Resolution as the Champion of DYAO and was also commended as a woman of strong character and exceptional determination resolved and agreed upon by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey for Service in the community through dance education.  LaToya knows our Trenton schools well as she has grown up in the community. We are very pleased she will coordinate with and back our artistic director and work closely as a team with Kayla and Meko and Mr. Williams.

  • ASSISTANT DANCE INSTRUCTOR: Meko Wardy, of Hamilton, NJ is National Dance Institute (NDI) Certified Dance Assistant with extensive experience working with children and students through the Early Head Start, Positive Impact, and Trenton Education Dance Institute (TEDI) programs.  Background includes five years’ experience teaching and assistant teaching ballet, hip-hop, and tap to students in grades five through eight providing choreography, teacher and student support, and creativity that motivates children.

Persons who require accommodation should contact Sarah Stecker at

Michael Roseborough
Director of School-Based Programs

Major Grants and Corporate Funding