THE MIDPOINT: Where are we now?

By: Marcus Guy Crawford, 2017 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellow

Ok. I’ll be honest — when I saw that there were 5 full training days at the start of July for this program, I thought “What do they need to teach us that requires 40 hours of my time?” That’s more time than we’d spend actually instructing our students in the individual classrooms. It seemed so extensive and I couldn’t fathom how we’d be able to integrate all of this new information into our classrooms in the way our well-versed New York City, Dept. of Education colleagues would. The jargon, and the rigor with which it was being taught, seemed to separate me from the work I was desperate to do and had felt prepared to do.
 
But, here I am, halfway through the journey of RYSA R.I.S.E with this incredible body of students, and it’s all proving useful — some of it in small ways, others in more profound, and substantive ways, but I’m using it, it feels accessible and while it’s likely an imperfect product I’m delivering at times, it feels good to be wearing the teacher hat in a formal setting. And to be doing so with only 5 days of training vs. 4+ years (and college debt).
 
Training in hand, this week Kelsey and I dove in to tackle this large heading — Summative Assessment. Basically, we wanted to set a task that would gauge just how much our students have taken in in these past 3 weeks of class. What concepts have they held on to from our class and what skills are they able to exhibit that the program, at large, is trying to equip them with? This will help guide our second half of the course. So true to form, we put on our super academic hats, our serious faces, and played mad-libs with the kids! 
 
They loved it! Our youngest group, the Smiling Sunbeams, needed lots of scaffolds (another fancy education word, meaning support!) to help them through but they really latched on to certain ideas. Most importantly for us in the storytelling classroom imagination is a concept that the kids definitely know and love. This feels like a huge victory over iPad and game console culture. Our oldest group, the Rising Stars, knew all of the vocabulary that we had taught them, but struggled more with transferrable skills — cooperation, compromise and delegation of roles. This was a great opportunity to defer to our assistant teacher in the class, who spends the entire day with the students and could relate our learning, to those of other teachers in other classrooms. On a second attempt, they soared through the exercise.
 
 Finally — we led the Flying Arrows who had the most interesting response to the exercise. Many of the students in this class, have a very difficult time grasping the English language, while a core group of others are vocal, participatory and typically help Kelsey and I move the class along. Surprisingly, there were no spectators and everyone got involved. Our more able students took on leadership roles and made sure the large task was accomplished, while our true English Language beginners spent time searching through the words, sounding them out, using this exercise as an opportunity to be curious, to discover and to do so without feeling pressure to achieve. It was extraordinary to watch.
 
RYSA is teaching me so many things, but most importantly for this week, it was great to be equipped with the skills to actually gauge where our students are in their own process of skill-acquisition. It didn’t feel academic. It felt like I was prepared to serve the students, to witness their progress, and to talk about it with a degree of sophistication. We were told in training that we should be seeing the student, and not their trauma. I would take that one step further and acknowledge that this week we saw their growth – bright, budding and wonderful!

Art-in-Action 2015 – Magic: Creer para ver

This year’s Art-in-Action summer camp took place June 15 – July 10 for over 90 immigrant and migrant children living south of Miami. AIA enables these youth to build on their potential and become leaders in their community — as well as have an all-out fun time together!

A team of 9 ASTEP Volunteer Artists collaborated with 8 Local Artists to provide a diverse variety of classes in music, theatre, dance, visual arts, and our newest culinary arts, which not only allowed the students to be creative with food preparation but taught healthy eating habits. In addition, AIA organized a Family Day, inviting parents to participate in programming alongside their children, which equaled lots of laughter and big smiles. The 4-week arts camp culminated in a performance for the entire community with over 150 people attending! This event not only highlighted the student’s work but also helped strengthen the community through creative and celebratory events in a safe space.

Thank you to the incomparable team of Volunteer Artists who made this all possible: Devon Fitol, Raymundo Gutierrez, Cris Akeroyd, Halle Townes, Janilka Serrano, Tiffany Ramos, Aaron Anthon, Allyse Corbin, led by ASTEP’s Director of Programs and Evaluation, Lizzy Rainer

 

 

South Africa revisited

artsINSIDEOUT – Johannesburg, South Africa

A team of 18 Volunteer Artists recently wrapped up artsINSIDEOUT2015, which took place from June 28 – July 11 for over 150 kids at Nkosi’s Haven, a residential facility for mothers and their children who are affected by HIV/AIDS. In addition to the traditional visual art, storytelling, music, and dance workshops offered, this two-week arts camp offered an engaging stagecraft class! The program culminated in a final performance at the historic Market Theatre in Johannesburg for the entire community — it was an inspiring evening for everyone who participated. For a chance to see the show, check out the video above!

The single most determinative factor in the lives of the people we work with will be their ability to tell their stories and to believe that their stories matter.

SETTING THE STAGE

BY VICTOR COLON, ASTEP VOLUNTEER ARTIST

My job is to educate through the arts: to model human, share perspectives, and broaden the imagination of our young students.

Through the stagecraft class we implement the set design for the final show that we are creating with the children. In our class each student is granted the freedom to be creative and responsible. We guide them so they can give their best without fear of making mistakes, laugh and learn from them creating beautiful arts expressions.

I get up early in the morning to start to work with the section of kids with the incredible team of kids, aged 5 to 12 years, who have tremendous energy and a huge desire to help in any way they can. The discipline and brotherhood is important in our work, they listen to each other and respect the decisions of their peers, which is a fundamental part of our education. After lunch we work with the next group of young girls and boys between the ages of 13-18 years old. It is WONDERFUL to have this gender diversity because it makes us a unique and special group providing opportunities to all alike, breaking the stereotypes that the only ones working on building scenery and lighting are involved with men.

The creativity and discipline of these students are amazing and I have no doubt at all that our final stage will be a beautiful and artistic collaboration from all of them and for the rest of the majors: music, dance, improv, storytelling and also Mums. Our main interest is that by recycling all materials that we see in our surroundings, we can make big scenes without relying on big budgets and because they simply do art inside and outside of major infrastructure, having less is more. I love art, I love my work as an artist and educator, and this experience lead me to love education. I learn that to be a teacher in the arts you have to be open and involved in the needs of each individual and merge with the group, so we all learn at the same time, so all we educate taking initiatives that refresh our values ??and our knowledge in everyday life. I love being here at Nkosi’s Haven in South Africa helping, sharing and learning with all this unique people, and it seems like I was living here for months. Being a good teacher requires enthusiasm, interest, love, consciousness but especially to be a guide to freedom of knowledge for each of our students.

Thank you to each of the Volunteer Artists who made this entire experience a success! We couldn’t have done it without you:

Alejandro Rodriguez, Alison Green, Ali Stroker, Anastacia Valles, Dumisani Khanyi, Dylan Moore, Evan Todd, JR., Ezra Lowrey, Jawan Jackson, Jennifer Newman, Kobi Libii, Mosoeu Ketlele, Rachel Lynn Haas, Riegerdt Deetlefs, Roelf Daling*, Stompie Selibe, Thembile Tshuma, Víctor Colón, and Yazmany Arboleda.

Volunteer in India

Engage in the transforming power of the arts!

 

ASTEP is currently recruiting musicians, dancers, and visual artists for our three-week arts camp at Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project, a school and home for economically and socially disadvantaged children outside Bangalore, India. With a team of 5-10 volunteer artists, ASTEP’s arts camp transform the school into a place of creativity, performance and ol’ fashioned silliness for the 300+ students at who live there.

Application deadline: July 17, 2015
Dates: September 6 – 23, 2015

Email Lizzy Rainer at lizzy@asteponline.org to learn more!

+ Want to find out more about our partnership with Shanti Bhavan?

+ Check out photos from our most recent camp in May!

 

There should be no dividing line between artistic excellence and social consciousness.

For 59 young artists interested in combing their artistic practice with their pursuit of a better world, ASTEP presented our 2nd annual Artist as Citizen Conference from June 7 – 12, 2015 at The Juilliard School.

At ASTEP, we work with children. We put artists in classrooms around the world to share their passion with kids.

In a larger sense, we’re part of an evolving, nationwide conversation on the role of the artist in society. There are articles published on the subject everyday – the landscape of the arts is changing and so are the opportunities available to artists. Meanwhile, the social emotional skills the arts help to develop are increasingly viewed as essential for success in today’s knowledge-based economy.

The Artist as Citizen Conference is an opportunity for ASTEP to help spread this powerful ideal nationwide — and with it, the remarkable culture of service it represents.

It’s been talked about for years. Innumerable blogs have discussed it. The New York Times recently chimed in. There is a movement afoot. A return to meaning in the arts. A return to impact. As one curator put it, “Marcel Duchamp’s toilet is being returned to the bathroom.”

The Conference is about putting the riches of the first network at the disposal of the second. Its mission is to celebrate, connect, and develop young leaders in the arts by providing them with a transformative artistic and educational experience in the heart of New York City.

Why? Because developing motivated young leaders in communities across America is a way for ASTEP to expand the reach of its mission exponentially.

Which means more kids. Exposed to more art.

Celebrate. Explore. Create!

SB Camp_May 2015_1w
Thank you to our incomparable team of Volunteer Artists who led our May 2015 Art Camp at Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project: Kalee Burrows, Gabby Deede, Carolyn Fry, Harrison Fry, Brian Gnojek, JJ Krehbiel, Lauren Morris, Lizzy Rainer, Midori Samson, Aaron Umsted! Working together for three weeks in May, these volunteers helped wind down the academic year by transforming the school into a place of play, creativity, and ol’ fashioned silliness for the 300+ students at Shanti Bhavan, a school and home for children of the lowest caste, located south of Bangalore.

The camp theme: Celebrate, Explore, Create!

The volunteers taught classes in the visual arts, music, dance and theatre with concentrations in areas such as musical theatre and even comic-book creation class! In addition to the classes, there was a focus on “camp-fun activities” such as scavenger hunts, water balloon fights, and even roasting s’mores, a first for the kids!

Beyond simply teaching artistic skills, the focus of ASTEP’s Art Camps provide the children with a safe space to develop important life skills such as creative problem solving, self-confidence, leadership, and collaboration — skills that will help them on and off the stage. Plus, a chance for a child to truly be carefree and play will do so much for their overall health and wellbeing.

The art camp culminated with Shanti Bhavan’s graduation ceremony where the students showcased their artwork and special performances for the community of staff, family, friends and supporters!

Welcoming a new member to the ASTEP Family

Sheri SarkisanASTEP is thrilled to announce Sheri Sarkisian has joined our Board of Directors!

Sheri is a vice president at Goldman, Sachs & Co. and joined the firm in 1996. She is a member of the firm’s Compliance department. Sheri earned a B.S. in business administration from Northeastern University with a concentration in finance and marketing. Sheri lives in New York City with her husband and three children.

Sheri brings a wealth of fundraising experience and will be helping cultivate new funding streams.

We are excited to work closely with Sheri and welcome her to the ASTEP community — together, we will introduce the transforming power of the arts to lives of the children we serve!

* * * * * 

Last minute recruiting: 1 dancer for the Refugee Youth Summer Academy!

RYSA 2014_Week 2_11w

Do you want to have a life changing experience this summer?

ASTEP is currently recruiting one dancer to join our Volunteer Team to teach at the 6-week Refugee Youth Summer Academy in NYC, presented in collaboration by ASTEP and the International Rescue Committee. Volunteer Teaching Artists will work collaboratively to create and implement a unique curriculum that uses the arts to build English language proficiency and social emotional skills.

  • Volunteers need to be comfortable working with English Language Learners.
  • Volunteers are on-site two days a week, 3 hours a week, from 12PM-3:30PM for 6 weeks.
  • Training takes place June 30 – July 2
  • The program runs from July 6 – August 20

Email Abby Gerdts at abby@asteponline.org to learn more!

+ Want to find out more about our partnership with The IRC?

+ Check out our blog from RYSA 2014!








Apply to the 2015 Artist as Citizen Conference TODAY!

June 7 – June 12, 2015

at

The Juilliard School, NYC

The Artist as Citizen Conference aims to identify and support young, motivated artists with a demonstrated capacity to take on leadership positions within their communities. Applicants must be between 18 and 25 years old to apply.

The artist’s specific skill-set can be in any discipline–we welcome applications from actors, dancers, writers, visual artists, filmmakers, musicians, designers, administrators, educators, and more.

The application is in three parts — “Basic Info”, “Video Statement” and “Original Work” — each described below and all due by April 22, 2015. You should fill out the Basic Info form first, and then send all supplemental materials to apply@artistascitizen.com

You’ll receive an official response from apply@artistascitizen.com regarding your application no later than May 1, 2015.

Check out the Artist as Citizen Conference website for more testimonials and how to apply!