Turnaround Arts: Milwaukee kicked the 2018-19 year off right with one of our teachers winning the Positively Milwaukee Inspirational Teacher Award from our local news station, TMJ4. Teacher Ja’Rahn Leveston brought a group of students as well as school and district officials to a red carpet event to celebrate his success through the arts. Mr. Jay, as the students call him, is a shining example of how Turnaround Arts has inspired our teachers to use the arts to build strong relationships with students and help them engage in learning in meaningful ways that lead to success! Watch the moving testimonial video that shows just how much love and joy the arts can bring to your school!
This fall also led us on the amazing journey that was the first annual Art Start Portrait Project. Working collaboratively with New York based Art Start, our district’s Office of Black and Latino Male Achievement (BLMA), as well as professional photographers, designers, and oral historians, our Turnaround Arts and BLMA students spent 10 months going deep into the theme of identity and challenging negative narratives about young men of color.The result was a stunning exhibition of conceptual portraits of these young men, text excerpts from their oral histories, and one minute biographical videos that weave a new, personalized, complex, and real narrative about these young men that challenges statistics and stereotypes. Over 200 community members came to the opening event which will travel next to be exhibited at the Walter Reade Theater Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York City. Also, watch for the #SeeMeBecause social media campaign that utilizes Milwaukee and New York students portraits and quotes.
At the school level, our teams are gearing up for musicals, plays, and talent shows with the goal of providing students with opportunities to perform and parents/families opportunities to see their student and the school in a new light. Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts (RMSA) will celebrate their 35th Annual Dinner Theater production. RMSA students will also be performing, AND producing an instructional “kit” for, an original musical created by Mr. Jay from the story above! They are hoping other schools around the country will want to utilize the materials they create to put on their own production of “Kai!” Sherman will take the lead from Roosevelt and embark on their first ever dinner theater production in addition to producing the musical “Annie.” Lancaster is excited to partner with the nationally recognized First Stage Children’s Theater to put on the “Willy Wonka” musical! Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. African American Immersion School is planning a performance of “Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters” open to the whole community at one of our local professional theaters, the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, hosted by Black Arts MKE.
At the classroom level, we are focusing efforts on teachers going deep in what arts integration means, how and when to use it, and how to document, share, and replicate success. Arts Integration Mentor (AIM) Teacher cohorts at each school are serving as demonstration or model classrooms for arts integration. Their journey of integrating the arts into all subjects will be documented, shared, reflected upon, and eventually replicated in more classrooms! Each AIM Teacher has a different focus area from using Arts Breaks to improve classroom culture, to integrating drama practices in reading to improve test scores, to designing and implementing large scale, classroom-wide, project based arts integrated projects. AIM Teachers will also create Hallway Galleries, or bulletin boards, that show the process and results of their arts integrated projects for the whole school community to see.
We are already on the path to making amazing things happen and look forward to seeing what more our school communities will accomplish this year!