Summer Arts Programming Improves Academic Performance

One Crew Baltimore: Building Relationships and Community in Our Classrooms

20160707_09320A post from Young Audiences Executive Director, Stacie Sanders Evans

Today, we visited one of our Summer Arts and Learning Academy sites at William Pinderhughes Elementary Middle School. The first classroom we entered had this statement on the board:

IMG_0831

Every morning at 9 a.m., a teacher, an artist and their students gather in a small “Crew” as part of Young Audiences’ commitment to helping children build relationships and community with one another and their teachers.  It is called Crew because it is based on the belief that we are not just passengers on this “ship,” but we are “crew” members playing a role in where we go and how we get there. Crew gives our kids and teachers an opportunity to talk, to listen, and to connect as people.

The violence happening in our city and other cities is not going unnoticed by our children.

At our Academy, we strive to give our children the tools they need to express themselves, push for what they believe in, and build the communities they envision. We believe arts integration helps continue that process.

IMG_1647web

IMG_1651webIMG_6255image10web

Young Audiences is not a political organization, so it feels inappropriate for me to make statements on behalf of Young Audiences about our City’s and nation’s current struggles. However, I will say this:

We are committed to creating safe places for children to reflect, to express themselves, to learn and to grow as people (artistically, academically, socially, and emotionally) through the arts.

Our Academy artists and their teacher partners are providing safe and nurturing places for some of our most vulnerable children to imagine, to create and to realize their full potential.

The posts we have been sharing on Facebook about our work have been inspiring others to reach out with words of encouragement. From one commenter:

In a time when our society seems to be crumbling before our eyes, the hope and joy created by YA cannot be overstated.  Everyone at Young Audiences should be incredibly proud of being beacons of light to so many children in our community.”

IMG_6191webIMG_6268web

There are so many ways that you can be more than a passenger in this city — you can be a part of a “crew” to provide transformative learning opportunities for our young people.

If you would like to learn more about our Summer Arts and Learning Academies, the artists involved, or where the academies are located, please contact Lisa Fritsch at lisa@yamd.org or register to attend a one-hour tour of our offices and mission (what we call our On the Bright Side Tour) this Thursday, July 21 at 5:30 p.m.

______

Young Audiences’ Summer Arts and Learning Academy is funded by Baltimore City Public Schools, The Abell Foundation, The Family League of Baltimore with the support of the Mayor and the City Council of Baltimore, The Alvin and Fanny B. Thalheimer Foundation and individual contributions to Young Audiences. All participants are students at a Title I Baltimore City Public School.

YA’s Expanded Summer Arts and Learning Academy Kicks Off Today!

This morning, we kicked off our expanded Summer Arts and Learning Academy – a free, five week program immersing 900 City students in a variety of art forms taught by 36 locally-based professional artists. The full-day program welcomes students grades K-5, encouraging imagination, creation and expression through the arts, such as painting, songwriting, spoken word poetry, dance, piano, singing, visual art, sound production, playwriting, fiber art, and filmmaking.

Our kickoff this morning was a blast – welcoming students and their parents to the Academy’s four sites with high-energy performances, live music, and vibrant interactive art demonstrations – giving them a preview of the truly unique and empowering experiences to come throughout the next five weeks.

Sankofa and Steve Cyphers kick off the Summer Arts and Learning Academy at Fort Worthington Elementary School.
Sankofa with YA roster artist and percussionist Steve Cyphers (far right) kicking off the Summer Arts and Learning Academy at Fort Worthington Elementary School.

Due to last year’s success; with academic gains by students drawing from 93 different city schools—the district asked us to expand the Academy to four sites: Thomas Jefferson Elementary, William Pinderhughes Elementary, Gardenville Elementary and Fort Worthington Elementary.

Working with kids as they discover passions, refine creative processes and integrate arts in their everyday learning is an inspirational experience we and our Teaching Artists look forward to every year. We spoke with a few participating Teaching Artists about their plans and why the Summer Arts Academy is such a great opportunity for students and artists:

Scott Paynter, reggae singer:

I wanted to teach at this year’s Summer Arts and Learning Academy to gain more experience working with Baltimore’s greatest resource…it’s children. My art form helps students express themselves through lyrics, it introduces them to cultures and people they’ve never encountered before, and it brings life to a classroom environment. Music is like a force of nature. It’s everywhere you are if you pay attention.”

Bridget Cavaiola, Baltimore Improv Group:

This is such a unique experience to provide our students with collaborative and engaging arts experiences that they may not get to during the school year. The mood and energy are contagious as you get to watch the students engage themselves in something in which they have passion.”

Alden Phelps, musician:

My focus has always been on playing with words and the joy of language. Language is the foundation of how we communicate and function as human beings. Students who practice manipulating language, expanding their vocabulary, using rhymes, and counting syllables will better succeed in their regular academic work. Creative thinking opens up new pathways in our brains. There’s also a wonderful freedom when a student can express an idea creatively. They synthesize their academic knowledge with skill in the arts, such as using color or figurative language, and the result is far more engaging to them.”

YA roster artist and professional dancer Valerie Branch (left) leading the kickoff at William Pinderhughes Elementary.

pinderhughes5 pinderhughes6pinderhughes1

Students will imagine, create and express themselves through the arts, with a chance to concentrate on two art forms. The students even show-off their talents at Artscape, at pop-up performances in mobile art galleries around the city and at the August 5 final culminating event. We can’t wait to see the students perform!

After this morning’s successful kick-off event, led by teaching artists Valerie Branch and Sean Roberts, at William Pinderhughes Elementary, one parent said:

“I am just so excited to get to see my child perform soon. Seeing what the [teachers and artists] did just now, I know they are in trusted hands. It made me look at my daughter and think yes! This is going to be different, we are so excited! She LOVES art! I can’t wait for the workshops too!”

Young Audiences’ Summer Arts and Learning Academy is funded by Baltimore City Public Schools, The Abell Foundation, The Family League of Baltimore with the support of the Mayor and the City Council of Baltimore, The Alvin and Fanny B. Thalheimer Foundation and individual contributions to Young Audiences. All participants are students at a Title I Baltimore City Public School.

Learn more about the Summer Arts and Learning Academy.