The new PAS Referral Program and four things you didn’t know about Student Services with Kristen Wuest, Director of Student Services
Wharton Arts has a new Director of Student Services: Kristen Wuest took on the expansive role this season after serving in various administrative capacities at Wharton Arts for over 7 years. Wuest joined the faculty of the Performing Arts School as a flute instructor in 2007 when it was then the Suburban Community Music Center (SCMC) in New Providence.
Says Wuest, “I had just graduated with my undergraduate degree and was very pleased to learn that SCMC was looking for a flute instructor. I started with a small studio of six flute students and in the spring of 2012 stepped into Student Services part-time. The role evolved organically. Today, I’m in the Student Services office over 30 hours a week with Skye Pasek as my assistant.”
Q: What are the main functions of Student Services?
A: Student Services facilitates relationships with new and current families, supervises faculty, and manages programming at the Performing Arts School. Finding the right teacher and program for new students is crucial, and we pride ourselves in guiding families towards what is best for their needs, and pairing them with the instructor that is the perfect fit. We also assist with online registration for the New Jersey Youth Symphony and Paterson Music Project when needed, as well as answer inquiries about all of our programs at the main office in Berkeley Heights.
Q: What is something about Student Services that may not be obvious to an outsider?
A: Student Services not only strives to grow enrollment and retain existing students at the Performing Arts School, but we are truly the first responders for the organization. Whether it’s moving a piano, handling a billing issue, assisting a sick student, or contacting emergency services—all of these things and more are filtered through Student Services. We always have a first aid officer on premises with CPR training and staff look to us in emergency situations.
Q: Whew. That’s a lot. What else does Student Services handle beyond customer support?
A: We play a big part in programming for the Performing Arts School. Almost all new educational initiatives originate or are co-created with Student Services. We also produce all of the events at the Performing Arts School.
Q: What are some of the benefits that Performing Arts School students receive from having access to Student Services?
A: It can be overwhelming for a family new to the study of music to navigate through choosing the right private teacher. To take one example, we are fortunate to have ten piano instructors at the Performing Arts School with all different teaching styles and personalities. We offer this wide range of options when it comes to instructors because it allows students to be matched with a teacher that will be a good fit—and if it is not, there are alternatives available. Every student is different and looking for something specific to study, and we strive to provide the best experience possible. We love getting to know each and every family that walks through our doors and as a lifelong musician myself, I have a deep understanding of the performing arts which I tap into on a daily basis to help families get started.
Q: The Performing Arts School recently launched a Referral Program (read about it here). What can you tell us about that?
A: The highest percentage of new students at the Performing Arts School come from word-of-mouth referrals. Without our community’s support, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. The need to reward our student families with an incentive became apparent, and we want to encourage them to continue to spread the word about our mission and exemplary programming in performing arts education.
Concludes Wuest, “As an alumna of the New Jersey Youth Symphony (1999-2003), Wharton Arts is my second home. I am extremely proud to work for such an incredible organization and every day I come to work happy that I get to help provide students with the same amazing experience I received as a young musician.”
Drop by Student Services and say hello—you may even find a jar of candy waiting for you along with a welcoming smile.
Kristen Wuest, a New Jersey Youth Symphony alumna who served as principal flute for two years, has been playing the flute since the age of nine. She performed with the New Jersey Youth Symphony in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in May 2003. Read more here.