By: Kelsey Lake, 2017 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellow
Last week, the newness of RYSA was a lot for everyone to take in! It definitely took some time for everyone to warm up to one another. Many students were shy, others stood out as natural leaders, and everybody was trying to learn so many new names!
As Week 2 comes to a close, I can confidently say that the students of RYSA have moved through that stage! They are boldly stepping into a new phase of more confident exploration and creative risk-taking in the classroom, and this thrilling new energy has led to some beautiful breakthroughs in Storytelling class.
One student’s rapid transformation sticks out clearly in my mind.
Last week, one boy (let’s call him M) came into class and did his very best to hide. He shrunk away from our silly warm ups; if he started raising his hand, he’d catch himself, his hand shooting back down again. Once, when he did speak up, his frustration with finding the English words to express his idea made him hide his head in his hands and back into the corner of the room. Marcus and I could see him following what was going on, and knew he had all sorts of thoughts and feelings about class, but we struggled to find an opportunity that could help him shine.
Then, this past Tuesday, something completely unexpected and delightful happened. Halfway through the class, it was time to “wake up” Sparkles and Spellzy, our puppet friends who have helped us learn so much about the power of imagination.
“How can we wake up and welcome Sparkles and Spellzy?” we asked.
M raised his hand! Marcus and I were thrilled to see he wanted to participate and quickly called on him.
And then, out of NOWHERE, M started to sing. He came up with a fun, short song to help wake Sparkles and Spellzy, belting it out confidently in front of the entire class. It was brilliant! We asked him to teach it to the rest of the class, and it became a fun new way to bring the puppets into the room.
Since then, M’s light has been shining so brightly. He offers creative ideas, gets up in front of his classmates to act out silly skits, and sticks it out when he struggles to find words for what’s going on in that creative mind of his!
Alongside M, we’ve seen many students take their scattered, incredibly high energies and focus them into leadership roles. Other students are taking their English language acquisition to the next level by volunteering to read our stories out loud with growing confidence! It’s incredible to see how quickly these students are learning to trust their own voices and imaginations; they all have such unique, riveting stories to tell, and I can’t wait to hear them.
ASTEP is thrilled to announce that Kelsey Lake and Marcus Guy have been selected as recipients of the 2017 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellowship!
The Fellows will be joining a team of 17 ASTEP Teaching Artists, who will lead the creative arts classes at the six-week International Rescue Committee’s Refugee Youth Summer Academy, using the arts to build English language skills, school readiness, and coping and self-regulation skills within this vulnerable and underserved population——tools they need to thrive in school and to help build a new life in their new home.
The Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenger Fellowship gives this unique opportunity to individuals who closely model Jennifer’s personal values and skill set and ensures newly arrived refugee youth will experience the transforming power of the arts, much as the arts impacted Jen’s life.
Human stories are ongoing, being picked up by one person where another leaves off. It is a great honor to carry on Jennifer’s enthusiasm & skill as a storyteller and use it to inspire a new generation of young voices. The baton passes on, and I commit to working with compassion, vitality and spirit in Jennifer’s name, as Kelsey and I interact with many young students this summer. Thank-you! – Marcus Crawford Guy, 2017 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellow
I am truly honored and moved to help further Jennifer’s legacy through this generous fellowship and my work at RYSA this summer. I promise to appreciate each moment, dream big, and grasp every opportunity to bring the joy of creativity to my students. Thank you so, so much for your generosity and belief in ASTEP’s mission! – Kelsey Lake, 2017 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellow
Along with providing year-round music lessons, ASTEP started and ended the summer season with a two-week arts camp at Shanti Bhavan, a school and home for disadvantaged children in India.
Held in May and then again in September Shanti Bhavan’s student body of over 200 kids, the aim of the arts camps is to encourage students to collaborate with their peers, strengthen their ommunication skills, problem solve creatively, try new things and gain confidence through visual arts, dance, theatre, and music classes and activities.
Throughout camp, students took part in a variety of activities. For example, in one collaboration class, students experimented with movement exercises that resulted in some amazing visual art!
“ASTEP Camp is the best part of the year. We get to do all sorts of crazy stuff, to do things we don’t get to do throughout the school year. I’m a music student, and I like playing the piano. Through ASTEP I have been able to improve my skills and my way of playing the piano. From camp, I learned to have an open mind, to imagine what I want. I learned from visual arts that nothing is ever right or wrong, don’t let other’s judge what you do. Be confident and do what you feel is right.” – Berkmans, 12th Grade
You can check out all of the photos on Facebook that captured our moments together but here are a few!
Thanks to our incomparable team of Volunteer Artists who made this all possible!
2016 MAY Arts Camp
Theme: Connect, Create, Celebrate
ASTEP Volunteer Artist Team: Quinn Coughlin, Aimee Cucchiaro, Destiny Garcia, Ryan Hotes, Anna Hulse, Alexis Jenofsky, Michelle Mussett, Jason Shiuan, Jennifer Stafford, Patricia Woolsey and Ashley Monroe (Program Facilitator)
2016 SEPTEMBER Arts Camp
Theme: “Let’s Grow”
ASTEP Volunteer Artist Team: Olivia Alsip, Jansen Bennett, Jordan Campbell, Allyse Corbin, Kaila Galinat, Marcus Guy, Patrick Heffernan, Joshua Hinck, Kelsey Lake, Marina Micalizzi, Aaron Rossini, Roschelle Spears, and Lizzy Rainer (Program Facilitator)
You are each incredible human beings!