New World School of the Arts Accused of Giving Preferential Treatment to Students Who Pay for Summer Camp

Since it opened in 1987, downtown Miami's elite New World School of the Arts has churned out generations of top local artists, from visual geniuses like Hernan Bas to Emmy-winning choreographers like Mia Michaels to playwrights like Tarell Alvin McCraney.

For up-and-coming musical theater stars, the school's über-competitive troupe, the Connection, is the first step toward Broadway.

Yet the public magnet school's inspector general is now investigating a complaint that the director, Ron Headrick, cares less about talent than whether parents are willing to pay thousands to send students to a New York summer camp where he teaches.

"The name 'Connection' is apropos, since most participants are chosen for their parents' connections," the anonymous complaint alleges.

That claim is baseless, says Michael Knauf, director of French Woods, the summer camp in question. He says Headrick, who teaches at the camp, has no financial interest in recruiting students. "I hate to say it, but it sounds like sour grapes to me," Knauf says.

The letter, sent to Miami-Dade County Public Schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho, levels a number of charges at Headrick, who didn't return a call from Riptide.

The instructor chooses students for the Connection based in part on whether they enlist in French Woods, which costs about $4,000 for a three-week camp, or a private company he runs at the Miami Children's Theater, the letter alleges. Students, in turn, receive prime acting roles and raving letters of recommendation.

" 'Less fortunates' spend what should be the best four years of their lives feeling excluded, bitter, and betrayed by... staff members lining their pockets," the letter continues.

But Knauf says the claim doesn't make much sense. French Woods actually offers several scholarships to New World students every year, and Headrick doesn't own the camp; he merely works there as a choreography instructor.

"Headrick is a great instructor," Knauf says. "He benefits in no way from getting kids to come to our camp."

Neither MDCPS spokesman John Schuster nor New World principal Evonne Alvarez would comment on the investigation.

My Voice Nation Help

These accusations are outrageous and dishonorable. I graduated from New World School of the Arts this past June and was a member of The New World Connection my Senior year. I never attended French Woods and was in fact, a student in the vocal program, not musical theater or theatre. I auditioned for the Connection my junior year, and I believe Ron Headrick accepted me into the group because he saw I had a passion and talent for musical theatre, not because of my financial situation.


I go to New World and Ron Headrick is the complete opposite of what this person is making him out to be. It's a shame that he has to be put through this simply because someone is upset that they didn't get into Connections. He is a sweet man who is passionate about New World and only wants what is best for his students. The accusations made about Frenchwoods are completely false. He shows no bias towards those who go and those who don't. In fact, he gives out scholarships to his students to give them the opportunity to experience what has become a sort of tradition in attending Frenchwoods during the summer.

I am strongly against this investigation and I hope all this is sorted out. The bitter, anonymous person needs to understand that this is all part of the business and if they cannot handle rejection then they should reconsider their profession. 



Maybe the parent who complained should evaluate their child as well as themselves. Ron Headrick should be nominated for teacher of the year. He is an example for all and probably fair to a fault.

If someone has something to say they need to come forward.

Talented kids go to performing summer camps to work at their craft. Their are many camps of this genre some are free some are costly.  But talent is talent and good kids are good kids.


I suggest this troubled stage mom evalutes themselves first. 


Miami Concert Tickets