Teacher – Fifth Grade Chapman Elementary, Strongsville City Schools
Melissa Friedman and her 5th grade Chapman Elementary students (a Strongsville City School) worked with Jimmie Woody (theater), Desmond Davis (dance), and Wendy Mahon (visual arts). Students all read the same novel, The Great Gilly Hopkins. The students then created four alternate endings to the novel and performed them with Jimmie, created two survival dance pieces with Desmond, and worked with Wendy to design a mural at at a local senior living home. They even worked with the school’s music teacher to write a song (and the score!) to describe the character development of Gilly.
Thoughts from Ms. Friedman:
I was able to see a different side of my students that you do not get to see as a teacher inside the classroom. I think the kids realized that they can learn wherever they are — not just in the four walls of a classroom sitting at a desk listening to someone speak to them. I believe the kids saw themselves and what they are capable of being able to do as important to others, that their actions matter to a lot of people. I believe the kids saw that a lot of people care about them and their learning. These are huge confidence boosters. Knowing you are important and matter to others can take you a long way in the world! I hope that is a lesson that each of my students takes with them for a long time!
Mike McIntyre (host of WCPN/90.3’s Sound of Ideas)
Poetry Apprentice Parent
(My wife) and I are blown away by (the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning) and by the incredibly positive impact the Artworks Poetry Co-op has had on our son.
He has gained confidence, developed a more focused sense of self and self-assuredness, found his own voice and has met some really terrific young friends. It’s an added and important benefit that the group of young people in his co-op and throughout Artworks is so diverse. It has exposed him to so many different points of view and life experiences. And Ray just rocked it. In a nutshell, as the end of one of their group poems attests, he is becoming “fully human.” That is the wonder of artistic expression.
I’ve spent a lot of time coaching youth sports and I see it as a sign of success when the young boy or girl says he or she will definitely sign up to play again the next year. It means I’m doing something right. Well, so is Artworks. He’d sign up for next summer right now if he could.
During my two years as an Artworks apprentice for the poetry co-op, I grew not only as a writer, but a person as well. Having two different MTAs (Master Teaching Artists), I was able to learn a variety of different writing styles, techniques, and tips of the trade. Working with Carla Thompson (MTA), we focused on correct structure, voice inflection, and memorization techniques, and how to copyright our work. Working with Ray McNiece (MTA) was a blast. Each apprentice was able to create a presentation of their favorite poet, as well as teach a lesson in a style of writing of their choice. Having spent a year on developing my portfolio, I stepped up as Ray’s right hand man (or woman in this case) and collaborated with my co-workers to organize both the Open House and the Final Performance. Having leadership skills has truly opened up opportunities for me including several open mics and performance events. Looking back as an alumni of the Artworks program has sparked an interested in creating my own non-profit for teens my age to have a space to express themselves in all art forms. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from the staff and am truly thankful for the opportunity.
ARTIST & TEACHER REFLECTIONS
Youth participated in uncensored poetry exercises with Professional Teaching Artist Carla Thompson once a week for 10 weeks. Once this project finished up, 30 teens participating in Community Service worked at Quincy Garden to colorize the gates and install aluminum panels with their ideas. Thanks to Professional Teaching Artist Melinda Placko, in collaboration with Partnership for Safer Cleveland and Renaissance Fairfax Development Corp, for helping to make this experience possible.
Juvenile Justice Artist Reflection / Performance Poetry:
“The six gentlemen that participated in the final performance were quite impressive. All of them were originally unwilling to share poetry even in front of each other, and they were specifically nervous about performing in public. For the final event, all six gentlemen: 1) dressed themselves appropriately , 2) chose poems that they had written and from other authors to read, and 3) were able to articulate to an audience of more than 20 people why they had written or chosen the poems they were presenting. They also greeted and spoke with their audience professionally before and after the performance.”
When asked what the mural project meant to a Juvenile Justice Community Service Youth:
“It can inspire people to do more things like this around the community. Showing the neighborhood that we kids work together as one.”
Teacher comments on curricular connections:
“Pointing out cultural elements & emphasizing values fit in nicely with the school goals.”
‘The greatest strength of the workshop was the alignment with our curriculum and the manner in which the artist was able to communicate that to the students.”
“Melinda (CAL teaching artist) talked a lot about inspiration- making work that is inspired by images of space, but not replications of those images. Students were receptive to this idea and I heard several asking/telling each other about the inspiration for their own work. Loved that!”