Budding Artists, Budding Leaders
Posted 9 June 2014 12:00 AM by Kayla Lee, Target Arts Teaching Artist at the Tobin K-8 in Mission Hill
Believe in My Dreams I know I can
Do it, do it, move
No matter what they say
I know you’re scared
But don’t give up. No!
Don’t throw your hopes away
We’re standing proud
Through the storm, we are reborn
On every day
And I believe, I believe
I believe in my dreams
I believe, I believe
I believe in my dreams
This was the song created by Miss Jaco’s third grade class at the Tobin K-8 School located in the heart of Roxbury. For ten weeks as a part of Citi PAC’s of the Target Arts Program, they have participated in creating a performance based upon believing in oneself. Debbie Allen’s book, Dancing in the Wings, help to set the tone for the lyric adventure they captured in their culminating piece.
From the first time I saw the students, I knew that they were a spirited bunch. They had a lot of talent and energy, but relating to each other in a positive ways challenged some. I knew that we the teaching artists team (Princess, Rachel and I) would have our work cut out for us as we strived to help cultivate a learning environment that would promote creativity, respect and collaboration.
What I witnessed over the course of a few weeks were transforms taking place individually and collectively. Through participating in the arts, the students began to exhibit prosocial behavior. They demonstrated not only the ability to collaborate with each other, but also they invent new methods of cooperation.
During a playwriting session the students were divided into four groups in order to create a plot for the final production. Each group was supposed to nominate two people to share what they had devised. One group in particular, could not decide who would share, so they decided they all would. As they stood before the class presenting, I was impressed by the students’ agency and problem-solving skills. They created their own democratic method to come up with a way to allow each of their voices to be heard for the exercise. As an educator, this is a dream come true--that students would be empowered to takeover and lead.
That day they taught me a lesson. Their voices translated into the culminating performance piece. In the last scene each student came forward to proclaim his or her dream for the future. Here are a few from the show:
My dream is that the world will be peaceful and kind.
My dream is to own my own cupcake shop one day.
Where everyone is nice to each other and no one is mean.
To go to college and become a doctor or a detective.
My dream is that everyone will be the true you.
Throughout the ten week series, they participated in dance, drama, music and poetry. Of all the art forms we tried, as a group, they got the most excited about dance! Their show ended with jamming out to Pharrell William’s Happy. They were beaming with pride at their accomplishments as they took their final bow.
Although the final performance was a success, it was not about that final moment, but it was about the process. I could not be prouder of the journey we took together. I do the work I do in as an artist and multicultural educator, because of the journey. As a teaching artist for the Target Arts Program, I witnessed not only the development of budding artists, but also future leaders. The lessons the students learned as a result of the Target Arts Program will remain far beyond a ten-week residency. The new skills they have will endure as the students forge and navigate paths towards their future goals and aspirations.
Tobin students present their ideas in their own collaborative style.
Tobin students listen to one another while brainstorming conflicts for their final showcase script.