It is the second year that the Arts-in-Education Department at The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College was thrilled to host Neighborhood Bridges, made possible by The Frog Rock Foundation.
The Children’s Theatre of Minneapolis, http://www.childrenstheatre.org/ created this program as a vision of an “arts integration residency that combines professional development, creative drama and storytelling to enhance 4th and 5th grade literacy and writing skills”. We had two teaching artists fly in from CTC to prepare classroom teachers, as well as teaching artists for a 10 week long endeavor to “team-teach classroom sessions, incorporating creative drama and storytelling to encourage, cultivate and refine student writing skills”.
Traphagan School and Pennington School of Mount Vernon, as well as Paideia School 15 of Yonkers were able to participate, with a total of 6 fourth grade classrooms, counting about 140 students. Throughout the process, the Arts-in-Education team was onsite and in constant contact with the teaching artists and teachers to document the progress of each classroom. We were hoping to find that the program encouraged students to explore their artistic side and look at reading and writing from a completely different, fun and engaging perspective.
After the 10 week in class program, we organized a Neighborhood Bridges Festival at The Performing Arts Center. Each class would read a creative piece and perform their own interpretation of a fairy tale on stage of The Pepsico Theatre, which holds up to 713 audience members! It was inspiring to see that the students came equipped with newly found theatrical voices, inventive costumes, and a ton of enthusiasm for the event!
It was an eye-opening experience and we decided to invite school administrators and the teaching participants to come together for a Neighborhood Bridges Reflection Session. We came to a mutual understanding that this program did meet and exceed our expectations. It was extremely helpful for every participating student and especially for some who were able to explore another realm of expression. Students, who had had difficulty paying attention or participating in class previously, started partaking, contributing and even delegating.
It was with great pride that we at The Performing Arts Center were able to host such engaged, talented and creative students and artists to realize such a wonderful program and event!
If you would like to learn more about the program, feel free to contact us at (914) 251-6232 or visit The Children’s Theatre’s website: http://www.childrenstheatre.org/