[heading] by MICHELLE TREMBLAY | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography [/heading]

At a time when many public schools are pulling funding for extracurricular programs, Painted Rock Elementary School’s Chorus is thriving. Behind its success is Maria Kaplan, the Chorus Director, who has been volunteering for the program for the last two years.

Maria resides in Poway with her husband, Eric, and her three children: Ava (7), Bella (5) and David (3). Besides keeping busy as a devoted mom and volunteer, Maria is passionate about interior design and owns a real estate company that refurbishes distressed properties. She also loves music, of course, and has been singing in concerts and choirs from a young age. Today, as Chorus Director for Painted Rock Elementary, Maria is putting her talents to good use. She handles everything from enrollment and scheduling to the music direction, costumes and set design.

The financial support for the Chorus comes entirely from parents, and as a result, has a minute budget. “We pay for music and t-shirts with a small enrollment fee and we get creative with our costumes and set design, using inexpensive, borrowed and recycled materials,” said Maria. Although she makes every penny count, Maria admits that her one wish for the program would be to get funding for the arts at the state level.

A unique feature about the Chorus is that kids of all ages are welcome. “Many elementary school chorus programs accept only second through fifth graders or have separate groups for their younger students, but our chorus includes kindergarten through fifth graders…we even accept our four and five year old Pepprs (transitional kindergarten students),” explained Maria.

Every year the Chorus performs one holiday concert in December and one spring concert in May. This past semester, Maria and the Chorus members pulled off a big success. “We had the honor of performing for the Poway Unified School District Superintendent, Principals and PTA members,” recalled Maria.

But, her biggest accomplishment as Chorus Director has been bringing awareness to the program. Materials about the Chorus are given to the school’s students and each semester the Chorus performs at an assembly for the entire student body, its teachers and parents. “We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of students enrolled each semester,” beamed Maria, “and I’m told that the children just love having the opportunity to sing and perform. It’s so wonderful to see children discovering their talents! I am so inspired by them and truly honored to have this opportunity to teach them.”

[heading] [tab title=”At A Glance”]

Name: Maria Kaplan
Community: Poway
Affiliation: Painted Rock Elementary School Chorus
Professional: Owner, Blue Pencil Properties, LLC
Family: Husband, Eric Kaplan; Children: Ava, Bella and David

[/tab] [/tabs]