Announcing the 2021 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellowship Recipients

Morgan McGhee
Morgan McGhee
Zahra Budhwani
Zahra Budhwani

For a fourth year, ASTEP is honored to select two stellar Teaching Artists as recipients of the Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellowship for their work with ASTEP Arts at the Newcomer Youth Summer Academy 2021. We are thrilled to announce this year’s fellows – Morgan McGhee & Zahra Budhwani. 

ASTEP provides the arts component of The International Rescue Committee’s Newcomer Youth Summer Academy (NYSA), a five-week summer camp supporting the personal growth, cultural adjustment, and education for young people who have recently resettled in New York City (ages 4-22) and helps them successfully transition into the US school system. 

Due to the current global pandemic, NYSA will be held virtually for the second consecutive year. Our incredible team of Teaching Artists, including Morgan and Zahra, have created a digital space that empowers young people with a sense of community, courage, and creative capacity. Through the arts, our Teaching Artists focus their lessons on nurturing English language and coping skills, as well as school readiness. 

The Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellowship is a unique opportunity for individuals who closely model Jennifer’s passion for utilizing the arts to celebrate a young person’s strengths and build up their unique areas for growth. With this fellowship, we honor Jennifer’s legacy by celebrating Morgan and Zahra’s outstanding contributions to the ASTEP classroom. 

 

 

 

Program Manager Tiffany Ramos Answers our Creative Activity Kit Questions

Tiffany Ramos holds up Creative Activity Kits

After hearing from our partners that the young people we serve were experiencing zoom fatigue from virtual learning, or had limited internet access, our Program Manger Tiffany Ramos crafted the Creative Activity Kits as a zero-technology solution. 

We asked Tiffany some questions about the Creative Activity Kits, and loved hearing their perspective on the initiative!

Why was it important to start the Creative Activity Kits initiative? 

It was important to start this initiative because at the very beginning of 2021 we were hearing from our partners how most children were experiencing zoom fatigue in virtual programming. Since school had shifted to virtual learning, some children had difficulties with access and navigation, and others were no longer feeling engaged through virtual workshops due to long hours spent in front of a device. As a result, we thought to take a zero technology approach to our programming and shift to something that engaged children more tangibly. Our Creative Activity Kits offered the magic and joy of an ASTEP classroom in lieu of in person classes, for now ASTEP classes and Teaching Artists take form in the art supplies and activity workbooks created and shared with children. Through this initiative we’ve been able to continue to bring play and social emotional learning through the arts to children throughout New York City who are more likely to have limited creative outlets. 

How do you think the kits have impacted the communities we serve? 

We have received a great amount of positive feedback from partners and children expressing how joyful children have been while completing activities and playing with their supplies. I think this initiative has had a great positive impact on the communities we serve. I know much of the supplies we have shared with children have been popular, then there’s the added bonus that students get to keep these kits making it that much more impactful. We are giving the gift of art and access to materials to fully participate in creative exploration. We hope that children get to use their supplies for the activities we provide as well as everyday entertainment and allow them the opportunity to continuously engage in creative play. 

What are your three favorite items in the Creative Activity Kits? 

My three favorite items have been a dance ribbon, because the movement is mesmerizing, and it just so happens to be one of the children’s favorite items as well. I’m also a huge fan of the play doh, because it’s a great molding tool and play doh is just so much fun to squish. My third favorite item is the spin drum because I enjoy percussion, I think it makes such an interesting sound to play with and I hope our students feel the same curiosity towards this fun noisemaker.

Any other thoughts?

While we have not been able to be onsite and share space together with children, our Creative Activity Kits have brought such excitement to our partners, students, and our ASTEP team. I think each month has been a fun mystery for our students as they receive new activities each month, and our Creative Activity Kits offer new ways for ASTEP to engage with our community. We have heard how appreciative our partner’s onsite staff members have been to have resources in the classroom for students to focus on while maintaining safety protocols. 

Click here to help us continue our Creative Activity Kits initiative.