Today’s the day we interview the first round of artists. I am excited to meet these individuals, as their experience and interests are so diverse. Half of the challenge, I believe, will not only be to fill the positions with qualified individuals; but, rather, to fill each specific position gracefully… Factoring in the strengths and weaknesses of our Projects teachers as well as the subject matter each class is scheduled to address.
For example… It seems logical to me to hire an architect or an urban designer for our second grade classes, since they will be exploring the concepts of maps, communities, homes and shelters around the world. Likewise, as many educators have come to know, kindergarteners are developmentally in a “listening” phase. They relate well to music, specifically if it is put to action. In this way knowledge retention can be built into creative instruction in the forms of music or dance.
Another challenge is to fill the positions with individuals who can bridge the language gap. At the moment, our Projects classes are being taught immersively in the Spanish language. This works well for our Spanish-speaking students, but does not work in our favor for the non-Spanish speakers. Eventually I am confident that all students will come to comprehend the content being taught in Spanish, but we as a school cannot risk the disengagement of the 20% on non-Spanish speakers in the classroom so early on in programming. Therefore, I seek artists who use gesture, eye contact, and physical activity as instructive tools. The body has its own language, and it has the power to unify otherwise dissimilar spoken languages
We have posted the job on two very popular websites, idealist.org and the Colorado Nonprofit Association. I am confident that doing so has expanded our reach exponentially. Over the years the Harmony Project has cultivated a pool of quality artists, but we have quickly learned that our needs at DCISF (bilingual being one key component) are hard to fill given the demographic of artists previously employed by the organization. The tides are turning, however, and it is clear to me that soon we will have a rich and diverse group of qualified artists whom I can rotate in the classrooms.
On another note – and I will keep it brief – I cannot express how beautiful it has been to hear students call themselves “trilingual”. If in fact our words shape our realities, as I have come to believe, then these little munchkins are off to a pretty spectacular start. I have come to enjoy my laborious lunch duty, when I see a beautiful little African American kid come up to me and say “Buenos Dias, Senora Cone”! Likewise, I nearly fell over with joy when an Hispanic kid greeting me with a “Neehoow”. (That’s hello in Chinese spelled phonetically.) So this is why we do what we do. Plain and simple. And I can’t wait for the students to add another language to their repertoire – ART.
Good things are amongst us. Bring it on.
Until next time – Adios!